Ducks Take On St. Martin's Friday

The Oregon Ducks open the 2007-08 Men's Basketball season with an exhibition game with St. Martin's, on Friday night. The Ducks are coming off a 29-win season including a trip the Elite-8. While three seniors, Maarty Leunen, Bryce Taylor and Malik Hairston plus sophomore Tajuan Porter bring back and exciting, high scoring offense, defense is the first thing Ernie Kent talks about.

"We can shoot the ball," Ernie Kent said of his team. "There's no doubt about that. The question now is how we play on the defensive side."

Kent points out that losing all-everything Aaron Brooks to the Houston Rockets of the NBA will mean more than the 17.7-points per game scoring average. Defensively, Brooks made many plays in the offside help that aided the sometime undermanned Ducks in equalizing bigger, more physical teams.

"People sometimes forget that Aaron Brooks really brought a lot defensively," Kent recalls. "One of these guys (Hairston, Leunen, Taylor or Porter) will really have to step up, and I'm sure at least one of them will."

As the season nears, Kent indicated that a number of NBA scouts and assistant coaches had stopped by McArthur Court to watch practice.

"Portland told me these guys can really shoot the ball," reflected Kent of what the Portland Trailblazer coach had said. "I agreed with him."

Joevan Catron likely will be the fifth man in the starting line up tomorrow night. Catron spent all summer working on his shooting touch and has had a very good fall camp.

While expectations might be running really high among fans, Kent looks at the season very realistically, as basketball is very much about match-ups. "I think many folks think that because we made it to the Elite-8 last year that we are a shoe in for the Final-4," observed Kent. "That's not necessarily the case though. We had very good match ups along the way, even with Florida. We were fortunate those were teams that we could run on, this year could be different."

That's not to say Kent is backing down or conceding anything. It is more of an acknowledgment that the Pac-10 is going to be a very competitive conference and that every team in the conference is dangerous.

There is a lot of success that going on around the Oregon Athletic Department. Duck football is being talked about in the BCS race. Dennis Dixon is a serious Heisman Trophy candidate and the Men's and Women's Cross-Country was very successful in last week's Pac-10 competition. It is easy to see how exited Kent, the Oregon alum is for not only his team but the entire athletic program. He's especially excited for the seniors.

"It's just like this guy," Kent says of Dixon. "It all came clear his senior year."

Fans can get the first glimpse of Oregon basketball tomorrow night when St. Martin's of Lacey, Washington takes the court in an exhibition game. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

eDuck Top Stories