Men's Basketball Hosts Basketball Travelers in Exhibition Opener
Nov. 5, 2001
EUGENE - The Oregon men's basketball team gets the exhibition season underway Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at McArthur Court against the Basketball Travelers, a team from Brisbane, Australia.
'At this point in the fall, you're ready to play against somebody other than yourself,' said Oregon head coach Ernie Kent. 'It's a good opportunity to get a better feel of where you are at this point and then we'll go back to the drawing board to identify what we need to do to be where we want to be.'
The Ducks return nine of 13 lettermen from a year ago , including three starters. Oregon is led by senior guard Frederick Jones, an all-Pac-10 honorable mention selection a year ago who averaged 14.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. He was recently named to ESPN.com's preseason all-Pac-10 team, along with Jason Gardner of Arizona, Casey Jacobsen of Stanford, Jason Kapono of UCLA and Sam Clancy of USC.
Other returning starters include guards Anthony Lever and Luke Ridnour. Ridnour was named Pac-10 freshman of the year last season after averaging 7.4 points and 3.8 assists per game. Lever, who legally changed his last name from Norwood to that of his natural father, former NBA star Lafayette 'Fat' Lever, over the summer, led Oregon with 51 three-pointers in 2000-01. Lever was recently cleared to practice after recovering from a broken left (non-shooting) hand and is expected to see limited action against Basketball Travelers.
The Ducks also return all-Pac-10 freshman Luke Jackson, who averaged 7.8 points and 4.1 points per game a season ago and was had Oregon's first triple-double in nearly 30 years in a game at Washington. Senior Chris Christoffersen will be expected to start for the first time in his career. The 7-2, 300-lbs., Dane showed flashes of brilliance last season and his performance will be a big key for the Ducks. Christoffersen averaged 3.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in 2000-01.
Guards James Davis and Ben Lindquist will add some pop off the bench. Linquist, a senior, averaged 3.5 points per game last year and is one of Oregon's best at setting screens or taking a charge. Davis, a sophomore, is a streaky shooter who averaged 3.9 points per game, but struggled during the latter half of 2000-01. Up front, senior Mark Michaelis and sophomore Jay Anderson will battle for minutes on the front line. Anderson averaged 1.8 points per game, while Michaelis was at 1.2 points per game. Walk-on senior guard Kristian Christensen also returns.
Of the five newcomers, only two are expected to play Tuesday. Robert Johnson, a 6-8, 235-lbs., junior transfer from Santa Rosa Junior College in California, has looked solid in practice and is vying for a starting nod. Brian Helquist, a 6-9, 275-lbs., junior from Florida's Jacksonville Community College, is another big body competing for time on Oregon's front line.
The three freshmen, 6-11 forward Ian Crosswhite, 6-4 guard Marcus Kent and 7-0 center Matt Short, will not play Tuesday. Crosswhite (ankle) and Kent (knee) are recovering from earlier injuries and will redshirt the 2001-02 season, while Short is still developing at this early stage in his Oregon career. 'Even though Matt has had a very good fall practice, we are still evaluating him,' said Kent. 'We are holding off making a decision on Matt until we get closer to the end of the month, so he will not play in the two exhibitions.'
The exhibition is the fourth of a seven-game tour for the Australians. They added Terik Brown, a Duck letterman from 1996-99 who finished his career under Kent, to their roster when they arrived in the United States. Brown, 24, is listed as a 6-1 guard and scored 16 points in Brisbane's 79-74 loss at Portland on Sunday. Brown scored 1,152 points in his Oregon career (15th all-time) and ranks second in career three-pointers with 223. He still holds three of the top 10 single-season three-point marks at Oregon.
Brisbane opened its tour with an 87-43 loss at Washington on Friday. The team then lost at Portland Sunday and plays at Portland State Monday. Brisbane heads to Pullman, Wash., to face the Cougars after Tuesday's game.
Radio station KUGN 590 am will carry the game locally in Eugene as Jerry Allen begins his 15th season as the play-by-play man for the Ducks. Reserved tickets for the exhibition are $18. General admission tickets are priced at $11 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.