In nearly all of Oregon's wins this season, victory has been achieved in decidedly unpleasant ways. In scoring their eighth win Wednesday night over Prairie View A&M, the Ducks continued the theme of winning ugly, topping the Panthers 74-66 in a game that wasn't totally decided until late.
After admitting his team took a step in the right direction on Tuesday, Oregon head coach Dana Altman wasn't nearly as congratulatory Wednesday, saying his team was "sluggish" in their performance.
"We just never got a flow offensively," said Altman. "[Prairie View A&M] doubled Tony (Woods) quite a bit and we just never got a flow. We found a way to win but we were sluggish and didn't make the steps to improve as I would have liked."
Despite 20, 19 and 13 point scoring efforts from Garrett Sim, Devoe Joseph and E.J. Singler, respectively, the Ducks, as a whole, appeared disinterested and unmotivated to play. The noticeable lack of energy wasn't do to fatigue, according to Joseph, but more so with the lack of excitement in the arena leading up to the game versus Prairie View A&M.
"I wouldn't say we were fatigued," said Joseph. "With the [students] away on break, sometimes it's hard to play a bunch of games in a row and get your excitement up. We just have to do a better job of just getting more excited and hyped up for the game."
Though their enthusiasm to compete was barely perceptible, the Ducks shot lights out from three-point land, converting on 10-of-21 attempts, shooting a season-high 47.6 percent for the game. Oregon's 10 threes was the first time this season the Ducks made 10 or more three-pointers in a game.
"We got a few more open looks," remarked Sim, who had two of Oregon's 10 threes. "I think we were penetrating and kicking a little bit better today and those open looks I think were why we shot a little bit better today."
While Sim, Joseph and Singler continue to provide the Ducks with solid performances game-in and game-out -- albeit against appreciably weaker competition as of late -- Altman's greatest concern appears to be with the large majority of his newcomers. Besides Joseph, Oregon has battled severe bouts of inconsistency from highly touted incoming players such as Tony Woods, Olu Ashaolu and Carlos Emory.
For Altman, getting those players comfortable and satisfied with their respective roles is the key to developing better on-court chemistry and cohesion moving forward.
"Our new guys are struggling a little bit," Altman conceded. "Brett (Kingma) and Carlos are having a hard time finding a rhythm, Olu and Tony are having a hard time finding a rhythm if you look at the stats...Our new guys have struggled where as the guys who have been in the program have kind of helped us survive.
"[The new guys] can bounce out of it and when they do, we can take a big leap."
One more game remains for the Ducks before they break briefly for the holidays only to promptly reconvene in preparation for their Pac-12 Conference opener on the road at Washington State. With so many areas of improvement needing to be addressed, it's natural to wonder just how well Altman's group will fare as conference play looms. For Sim, past is prelude, and while he acknowledges his team isn't satisfied with their progress to this point in the young season, he insists the Ducks are focused on their next objective.
"We are not totally pleased," says Sim. "We need to put this [game] behind us and move on for tomorrow's game."
Tip-off against Stephen F. Austin is set for 7:00 p.m. Pacific from Matthew Knight Arena.
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney
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