October 16, 2009

Hoops preview: The Guards

Oregon's four true guards all bring something different to the court and the Ducks will undoubtedly try to use all their talents to push the tempo and create easy baskets. How do the Ducks use their guards and what does each bring to the game? Assistant Coach Kenny Payne gives us a little insight.

Senior Tajuan Porter is only 4 made threes short of the All-Time Oregon record. It's something he's capable of achieving in the first few minutes of the opening game. Particularly if either Garrett Sim or JC transfer Malcolm Armstead step up and assume the role of starting point guard. That's clearly Oregon's biggest question going into the season. 'Who starts at the point?"

Assistant Coach Kenny Payne talked about the point guard spot for this year's Ducks. "Malcolm's a natural point, an excellent passer, tough, good at penetrating, sees the floor really well, can score, frees up TP and Garrett and our wing players to play more minutes without the ball in their hands. He's something we really needed."

In Garrett Sim they have a sophomore who took his lumps as a true freshman. In Maui he showed a glimmer of what could be with a strong showing against Texas and some solid play. But as conference play began, Sim lost confidence and with the talent in the Pac-10, there was not time to find it as teams attacked his inexperience every night.

A year older, stronger, and wiser, he'll be challenged by Amstead for sure. In Amstead the Ducks found one of the nation's premier JC point guards. The one who led his team to a number one national ranking going into the national tournament, and a player who fearlessly defends on the ball with his body.

A Florence, Alabama native, Armstead is one of four Ducks from the South. (Jacob, Amstead, Longmire and Williams). He's got a good jumper an plays with confidence while taking care of the basketball. "Unlike a lot of JC guys, Malcom comes to us with three years to play," said Payne, "He's going to be a good basketball player for us for a long time. He'll make mistakes because he's got to go through a bit of a transition at this level but he's a great fit for our program, he'll compete and we expect good things right away." The good news for Duck and Garrett Sim fans is that he's such a hard worker, he's already improved his game. His body is stronger, his stamina is up, and he looks ready for the challenge.

Porter's game is well documented. Ideally, he'll spend most of his year terrorizing teams from the perimeter. His ability to stretch the defense and make plays for his teammates will be crucial to the Ducks success in the half court this year, and Duck fans will undoubtedly see his quick release jumper on the break.

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