Ducks Prevail In Exhibition Opener

Despite 20 turnovers and only 11 assists, the Oregon men displayed impressive energy and hustle in head coach Dana Altman's first appearance on the Duck sideline. Behind veteran forwards E.J. Singler and Joevan Catron, the Ducks downed Northwest Christian University, 80-53.

While it wasn't pretty, the Ducks notched a confidence building exhibition victory Friday night in their 80-53 win over Northwest Christian University. In Dana Altman's new fast-paced, full court pressure system, Oregon harassed the Beacons in to 24 turnovers, stepping up the defensive intensity in the second half by limiting NCU to only 26.7 percent shooting while outscoring their cross campus neighbors 42-19. As good as the second half was however, the Ducks clung to a 38-34 lead at halftime, as they allowed NCU to shoot a sizzling 51.7 percent from the floor.

"I really liked the fact that in the second half, defensively, we really played much better," said Altman. "The first half they shot 52 percent and in the second half they shot 26, so we took away some easy baskets and I think we did a much better job."

Senior Joevan Catron and sophomore E.J. Singler paced the Ducks scoring 16 points a piece while chipping in six and seven rebounds, respectively. Coming in to tonight's game, all eyes were on Catron, who saw his first game action in almost year after missing virtually all of last season with a nagging back injury. Though there was some rust, the Chicago native's first game back was certainly encouraging.

"I felt good," admitted Catron. "I was excited to play again. I didn't want to be too over the top, but it felt good to play basketball again in front of a crowd. There's nothing like it."

Altman was also pleased with Catron's performance tonight, saying that the 6-6 forward showed his experience this evening in light of all the new faces around him.

"Joevan's the leader of our team," said Altman. "There's no doubt about that. He comes to practice everyday with a smile, he's all about the team, and he's got lots of experience. When we get in shape and when he can get healthy, he's going to be the cornerstone of this year's team."

As a team, it's obvious this squad still has a ways to come in order for it elevate itself to a competitive Pac-10 level. The 20 turnovers surrendered by the Ducks were an indication of their inexperience and unfamiliarity in Altman's system, with Altman admitting as much in his post-game media conference.

"Offensively, 20 turnovers is a really bad stat," stated Altman. "We've gotta clean that up. A lot of our turnovers were a result of us not being fundamentally sound. It gave us a starting point and it gave us a lot of things to work on."

Notes: Junior forward Teondre Williams suffered a twisted ankle in the second half, finishing the game with 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Altman said that Williams would be re-evaluated tomorrow morning. Altman also mentioned that he would like to redshirt freshman newcomer Martin Seiferth, however due to concerns regarding the team's depth, Altman believes that won't be an option.

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney

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