"That senior leadership they had last year really helped them. I'm not quite sure where they are right now," Oregon senior E.J. Singler said, referencing last year's game versus Vanderbilt, in which they lost 78-64.
That question remains for head coach Kevin Stallins, and it won't be who returns for the Commodores (as the answer is very little), but more, which new faces will step up.
In a season opening win over Nicholls State, sophomore guard Kedren Johnson carried the load, scoring 25 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out six assists. Johnson made his collegiate debut against the Ducks last season, but made little contribution, scoring just four points, on par for his final season numbers.
Pegged as a starter in the off-season, guard Dai-Jon Parker won't be one, as he was suspended indefinitely for a "non-academic policy" violation earlier this month.
Because the roster is so different, Oregon head coach Dana Altman says preparing for the Commodores is quite difficult. The Ducks will be unable to use last year's game or any film from last year as a teaching tool, focusing only on the Nicholls State game.
"They've got a lot of new faces, we've got a lot of new faces. They play a much different style than they did a year ago," Altman said.
That style change, according to Altman, will be reflected in a more "perimeter-oriented" offensive style, one in which each player can shoot the three. Vanderbilt shot 12-26 from deep in its first game, with each starter attempting at least three shots from range and hitting at least one.
Defensively, Altman will expect his post players to stretch out the three-point line in order to defend.
Communication on that side of the ball as well as offensive ball movement are two points of improvement Altman hopes to see Friday, although he believes there isn't an area that doesn't require some.
"You name the area of the game, we've got a ways to go. We're a work in progress," he said.
Vanderbilt is the first of three BCS conference schools that the team will face, with either Cincinnati or Iowa State (depending on the winner of the Global Sports Classis match-up) and Nebraska still left on the schedule.
"Whether we're prepared for a game against another BCS school…whether we're ready for a game like that, I'm not sure," he said. He is hopeful, however, that games against "competitive" teams will prepare the Ducks for the rigors of Pac-12 play.
"I think we know how big this game is," Singler said. "I like playing good teams…we know we need to win games like this to make it to the postseason. "
Oregon and Vanderbilt face off Friday at 8 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.