Media Day Opens 2008-09 Season

Eugene – It is Ernie Kent's 12th year as head coach of his Alma Mater's Men's basketball team. This year the Ducks might be called the baby ducks as six new freshmen joined the squad. Kent was very cautious and careful in the words he chose when talking about his team, but it was clear he is excited about the potential this squad has.

"In time they are going to be a very good basketball team," said Kent of his team. "The thing I've told them already is that they need to focus on handling the things that are in our control."

The things the young Ducks have in control of are conditioning and working hard. Kent indicated to gathered media today that his team is in very good shape, albeit not in basketball shape, primarily thanks to new Basketball Strength and Conditioning Coach Tim Wilson. The Ducks will hold the first formal practice tomorrow but today was a show and tell day. One of the things Kent told was that he feels Tajuan Porter has emerged from the summer as the clear leader of the team followed by Joevan Catron and LeKendric Longmire.

While the individual talent is very good, Kent says the team is no different than the team lead by Fred Jones, Luke Ridnour and Luke Jackson. One major advantage this particular group of player has is that four on the current roster have played together, literally for years. Newcomers Mike Dunigan, Matt Humphry, Josh Crittle and Catron all were on the same AAU team in Chicago and had achieve great success in AAU competition. Offensively, Kent senses the squad will have little problem getting know each other in the flow of the game, but it will be on the defensive side where the heavy lessons are to be learned.

"In terms of talent they are a very talented group of individuals," allowed Kent. "The key thing is who emerges and how quickly they develop."

Kent believes that none of the six freshmen will use a redshirt this season and as many as five will see significant playing time this year.

The Ducks will look similar to those teams in the past with shooters getting the green light, while using a high paced up and down court style with a heavy emphasis on defense. That of course will be the task the coaching staff faces and Kent indicated he is well aware that this year's schedule is very challenging.

"We're going to have to make sure we are thorough in those areas," admitted Kent. "We are going to be challenged really quick on a night in, night out basis and that's not all bad."

Oregon also will have a chance to pound the ball low to a trio of talented big men. Frantz Dorsainville is back for his senior campaign and is in great shape with a very positive attitude. He will share time with the talented freshmen, Dunigan and Crittle. Dorsainville, who worked out with the Ducks football team during spring drills in April thinks the new faces will take the sting out of losing three veterans, Malik Hairston, Maarty Leunen and Bryce Taylor to graduation.

"We were really concerned with guys like Malik, Maarty and Bryce leaving," confessed Dorsainville. "These young guys are really good athletes; we're less concerned now."

The Ducks open the season on November 2nd against Northwest Christian in a non-counting exhibition game at McArthur Court. The season starts in earnest on Nov. 14th against Northern Colorado. Oregon will travel to Hawaii on Nov. 24th to participate in the EA Sports Maui Invitational. The Ducks will face Alabama in the opener and the winner will take on the either North Carolina or Chaminade on the 26th. Prior to the start of the Pac-10 season on Jan. 2nd, Oregon will face Utah, Kansas State, St. Mary's, Portland and Long Beach State. On Saturday, Dec. 13th Oregon meet San Diego in the Rose Garden as part of the Papé Jam.

Kent believes the Pac-10 race will be very competitive this year with UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, and Washington as some of the stronger teams, but he does not discount his squad's ability to be a factor.

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