by Rob Moseley
Their facial expressions told the story of their respective personalities, which couldn't be much different. Young is the cheerful extrovert, Calliste all quiet and serious.
On the court though, similarities abound, as Calliste and Young showed in the Ducks' 99-59 exhibition victory over Northwest Christian in Matthew Knight Arena. Spoiling the coaching debut of UO legend Luke Jackson — even if it was only an exhibition — Young and Calliste each scored 20 points to lead new-look Oregon to the win.
"They both shoot the ball well, they're both quick — I like them," UO coach Dana Altman said. "They've been really good in practice, really worked hard."
Young hit 7-of-12 field goals and had several transition buckets off steals, just two days after having his waiver request to play this season granted by the NCAA. The junior transfer from Houston averaged 18 points per game last season, and the Ducks can use that level of production after graduating four of their top five scorers from last season.
"We need him, and I think he's going to be a good player for us," Altman said.
Altman played everyone Sunday but freshman A.J. Lapray, who has been limited by injury in recent practices, the coach said. Ten players got at least 11 minutes and four scored in double figures, with sophomore wing Damyean Dotson hitting for 12 and sophomore transfer Elgin Cook adding 10.
Young and Calliste showed that the Ducks should indeed be a better three-point shooting team, with Calliste hitting all three of his attempts. Oregon has the athletes to be a tough defensive matchup, too, with Young getting five steals and Cook appearing to block several shots, though he was officially credited with just one.
"I think that Oregon team will hold a lot of Pac-12 teams to less than we scored tonight," said Jackson, the program's second all-time leading scorer. "They've got a really talented group. The future is bright for Oregon basketball."
Said Young of the defensive effort: "There's a lot of potential. We're all athletic, and we try to bend our knees like coach says, stay low. Defense wins games. If we do that, we'll be a good ball club."
Altman said he wanted to get a look at his newcomers, explaining why sophomore Dominic Artis was one of the last guards off the bench, playing just 11 minutes. Artis, Calliste, Young and Johnathan Loyd each handled the ball over the course of the game, a logjam of talent that's one of those good problems for a coach to have.
"(Altman) will figure it out," Loyd said. "He knows what he's going. He'll figure out the best game-plan for us, and we'll play ball. We'll play hard when we're out there — short periods, long periods, whatever it is."
As good as the Ducks looked on the perimeter, they showed too that they'll miss the likes of Tony Woods and Arsalan Kazemi down low, at least initially. Altman said rebounding "most obviously" topped the list of things to work on based on Sunday's exhibition, and Loyd noted that the Ducks miss a "rim protecter" in the mold of Woods.
Senior Waverly Austin, who goes 6-foot-11, started Sunday and played 17 minutes in which he grabbed five boards and blocked one shot. The Ducks don't go taller than 6-8 when Austin's out of the game, and often played with the 6-6 Cook alongside a 6-8 player such as Mike Moser, Ben Carter or Amardi in the frontcourt.
The Ducks have another exhibition Saturday afternoon, against Point Loma Nazarene, then open the regular season Nov. 8 against Georgetown in South Korea. Because of the travel schedule for that game, Altman called the next few days "a critical week" of practice.
"We've got to make big strides," Altman said.
That may be the case based on issues that arose Sunday. But the Ducks also showed they've got big potential, perhaps even more than last season's Sweet Sixteen team.
"Once we come together," Loyd said. "I think we'll be better than last year."