by Rob Moseley
If all goes well, this weekend won't feature the only stretch of three games in three days for the Oregon men's basketball team.
If all goes well, the Ducks will do it again in March, and make a deep run in the Pac-12 Tournament. That effort will be made easier by experience the UO men get this weekend, when they host Pacific, North Dakota and Cal Poly in the Global Sports Hardwood Challenge at Matthew Knight Arena beginning Friday.
"Once you get used to playing games back to back to back, it's regular," UO junior guard Joseph Young said. "You get on the court and put the same performance on, three games in a row."
The No. 14 Ducks (4-0) kick off the tournament Friday at noon against Pacific, will host North Dakota on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and conclude the weekend against Cal Poly on Sunday at 7 p.m. Pacific and Cal Poly play Saturday at 12:30 p.m., and North Dakota faces Pacific on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
To prepare for the rigorous three days, Oregon did extra conditioning in Monday's practice, a day after moving to 4-0 with a win over San Francisco. Then the Ducks took Tuesday off, while head coach Dana Altman left town for recruiting.
Practice resumed Wednesday, and a team meal was scheduled for the Thanksgiving holiday. Altman joked that the Ducks had to be sure they didn't "eat themselves out of a game" during Thursday's feast.
In all seriousness, he knows the compact schedule this week will be a challenge.
"It's going to test us," Altman said. "The style of play we play is taxing, so guys are going to have to do a good job and take care of themselves."
Among the Ducks that applies to in particular is junior guard Jalil Abdul-Bassit. The junior college transfer made his official UO debut against San Francisco on Sunday, draining two three-pointers in 12 productive minutes. But he's still recovering from the ankle injury that sidelined him for the first three games.
With Dominic Artis and Ben Carter still out with suspensions, and Abdul-Bassit and freshman A.J. Lapray still working back from injuries, Altman will have to orchestrate his roster with precision over the weekend.
"Everybody has to be ready for that," Abdul-Bassit said. "We'll have to go deep into the bench. It's all hands on deck, so everybody has to be ready."
The Ducks open the tournament with perhaps the toughest opponent, Pacific. The Tigers boast five senior starters, after winning the Big West Tournament and advancing to the NCAA Tournament last season.
Pacific is now in the West Coast Conference, as were Sunday's opponent, the Dons of San Francisco. Because of all those veteran starters, Altman expects Pacific to hit the floor with better chemistry than the still-bonding Ducks have at this early juncture.
North Dakota, of the Big Sky, is 2-1. Cal Poly is 1-3, having lost to Arizona of the Pac-12 earlier this month.