Last Season: The Ducks raced out to thirteen straight wins and then hit a road block and lost their next five games. The downfall finally stopped as Oregon reeled off seven consecutive victories to end conference play, with notable wins coming along the way over UCLA and Arizona. They made the NCAA Tournament and destroyed BYU in the round of 64, but fell to Wisconsin in the next round. It was an up and down season to say the least, but Dana Altman still managed to make the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.
Key Losses: The toughest part about the offseason should have been the departures of Mike Moser, Waverly Austin, Johnathan Lloyd and Jason Calliste to graduation. But that wasn't all that happened in Eugene. They dismissed Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis and Brandon Austin due to rape allegations. And to make things worse, Artis and Dotson both played in the NCAA Tournament while they were under investigation. Then, A.J. Lapray and Ben Carter, who could've been solid contributors this season, transferred.
More gut punches came this September. JaQuan Lyle, the team's best incoming recruit and five-star guard, was removed from the roster and Jalil Abdul-Bassit and Elgin Cook were cited for shoplifting. So to put it lightly, Dana Altman and Oregon basketball have had better times. Because of all the turmoil, the Ducks will only return four players that saw game action and have a total of 10 players, which will create major depth issues.
Notable Returning Players: Luckily, Joseph Young is still on the Oregon roster. The 6-foot-2 guard returns after leading the team in scoring last season averaging 18.9 points per game and also posted a top 25 offensive rating in the nation. Young used 24.1 percent of the possessions while he was on the floor and managed to only turn it over 39 times the entire season. He won't have much surrounding talent, but is used to handling the scoring load and should be a candidate for Pac-12 Player of the Year.
Key Newcomers: Dana Altman continues to collect transfers and this year he's imported Dwayne Benjamin and Michael Chandler, a pair of four-star JUCO recruits. Benjamin is a 6-foot-7 four-star wing who should add some versatility and Chandler is a 6-foot-10 center that immediately becomes Oregon's only player with serious size and presence down low. Casey Benson and Ahmaad Rorie are a duo of incoming three-star guards that should fight for the point-guard position while forward Jordan Bell will see his first action after sitting out last season. The only good news this offseason for Oregon was the reclassification of four-star recruit Dillon Brooks to the 2014 class. The 6-foot-6 forward out of Findlay Prep averaged 25.2 points at the U18 FIBA Americas Tournament this summer and should make an instant impact for Dana Altman.
Notable Non-Conference Games: Oregon will square off against Michigan in the Legends Classic in what originally seemed to be a great matchup. But with the dismissals of Dotson and Artis, this could end up being a rough game for the Ducks. Depending on the outcome, they'll face off against VCU or Villanova in their next game. Later in the non-conference season comes a matchup against Illinois at the United Center. Home games against Detroit, Ole Miss and UC Santa Barbara should provide decent tests for a team that will be trying to succeed with so many new faces.
Toughest Conference Stretch: Oregon's last six conference games are: at UCLA, home against Utah and Colorado and on the road against Cal, Stanford and Oregon St. If Oregon wants to contend in the Pac-12, this will be the stretch where they can gain ground on what will likely be the top half of the conference aside from Oregon St.
Best-Case Scenario: Dana Altman puts together his fifth-consecutive 20-win season and proves again to be one of the best coaches in the Pac-12. His team finishes in the top half of the Pac-12 and makes the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year.
Worst-Case Scenario: JaQuan Lyle is never cleared to play and Altman just doesn't have enough talent to keep his team focused on the court. Distraction after distraction runs this team near the bottom of the Pac-12 and they reluctantly accept a berth in the CBI.
Projected Finish: 8th