Disrespected Oregon preps for Oklahoma St.
by David Leon Moore, USA TODAY Sports
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Oregon basketball coach Dana Altman chooses not to stir the pot, declining to claim his Ducks, who won 26 games and the Pac-12 tournament, were disrespected by the NCAA selection committee by being seeded 12th in the Midwest Regional.
Instead, he chose to focus on the man who “stirs the drink” for his Thursday opponent, No. 5 seed Oklahoma State.
That would be Marcus Smart, the Cowboys’ spectacular freshman point guard, an All-American and a candidate for Player of the Year honors who averages 15.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
“Marcus makes everybody a little bit better,” Altman says. “You have to pay so much attention to him that he makes everybody a little bit better. That’s what good point guards do. They stir the drink.”
Altman and his players would probably not have much of an audience to listen to their complaints, anyway. After all, the Ducks haven’t been to the NCAA tournament since a first-round exit in 2008.
And, honestly, how many people can name a couple of players on this Oregon team?
Probably not many, but it’s actually a fairly intriguing mix of players that started the season 18-2 and were ranked as high as No.10 but struggled down the stretch after freshman point guard Dominic Artis, who was having a terrific debut season, was knocked from the lineup with a foot injury.
Artis is back now, not quite 100% but one of the most talented freshman guards in the country. He averages 8.5 points and 3.4 assists and shoots 34.8% on three-pointers.
At one forward is E.J. Singler, the younger brother of Kyle Singler, who won a national championship with Duke and now plays for the Detroit Pistons. Singler is the team’s best three-point shooter and leads the team in scoring at 11.6 points a game.
At the other forward is Arsalan Kazemi, the first Iranian national to play Division I basketball. A 6-7 forward, he played three years at Rice … [For more on Disrespected Oregon preps for Oklahoma State catalyst Marcus Smart, click here.]