Oregon men’s basketball will open the season very short-handed.
In addition to guard Jermaine Couisnard being out indefinitely following knee surgery, the No. 21 Ducks will be without junior college transfer guard Brennan Rigsby and reserve forwards Ethan Butler and Lök Wur for Monday’s season opener against Florida A&M (7 p.m., Pac-12 Oregon). Freshman center Kel’el Ware could also be the sidelined and guard Rivaldo Soares, who has been out of practice, could return.
“Not sure if we’re going to have anybody to play on Monday night so we’ll see,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said.
UO’s 12-man scholarship roster, plus three walk-ons, has been even thinner at times leading up to the season. Sophomore center Nate Bittle is back after missing three weeks with a foot injury and senior forward Quincy Guerrier missed 10 days.
Altman said the impact on practice preseason exhibitions against Boise State and Oklahoma has been evident.
“We’re not getting as much done as we need to,” he said. “We’ve had a crazy October here, had a lot of guys out. … Conditioning-wise you can’t take the time off. Quincy was out 10 days. We scrimmaged and it was obvious, he didn’t play well. Practice is important and take three weeks off like Nate did or 10 days like Quincy and it doesn’t bounce right back. We got guys just missing way too many practices.”
Walk-ons James Cooper, Brady Parris and Gabe Reichle have allowed the Ducks to still be able to practice 5-on-5 and Altman praised their efforts.
Oregon was going to lean on its core of Guerrier, Will Richardson and N’Faly Dante regardless, but now it’s become ever more imperative.
With a day off Friday, the Ducks need to maximize their two practices this weekend.
“If it’s six or seven guys, seven guys (or) eight guys hopefully that we have, we got to make the most of it,” Altman said. “… Here early, going to have to try to grind some out and get guys going and try to get some timing offensively with new guys. There’s no magic wand and it’s going to take time and it’s going to take a lot of time in practice and we just haven’t had that practice time.”