Plenty of college basketball programs would be quite satisfied with a 20-win season.
At Oregon, where winning and making runs in the NCAA Tournament have been regular occurrences under coach Dana Altman, last season’s 20-15 mark could only be considered a disappointment.
The 21st-ranked Ducks hope to get back to March Madness this season after bowing out in the second round of the NIT last season. The 2022-23 campaign opens at home in Eugene, Ore., against Florida A&M on Monday night.
Guard Will Richardson leads Oregon into the new season as the program’s longest-tenured player. Richardson, who is using his fifth year of eligibility, was named to the preseason All-Pac-12 first team after averaging a career high 14.1 points per game last season.
Richardson had 22 double-digit outings in 2021-22, including seven 20-point performances. Though his 3-point shooting percentage was a little down from previous seasons, he hit four or more threes in seven games.
“He needs to take leadership,” Altman said. “He knows what we’re trying to do. He knows what got us conference championships and Sweet Sixteen teams and he’s also seen the other side of it, what hasn’t worked. So I’m depending on that leadership. And he’s been great to work with over the course of his career.
“I’m glad he’s back. I think he can have a tremendous year for us.”
Also back for the Ducks this season are forward Quincy Guerrier and center N’Faly Dante. Guerrier averaged 10.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a starter last season in his first year in Eugene after two seasons with Syracuse.
Oregon lost a handful of players in the transfer portal over the offseason, but its recruiting class includes touted freshman Kel’el Ware, a 7-foot five-star recruit from North Little Rock, Ark.
Former Colorado guard Keeshawn Barthelemy and former South Carolina guard Jermaine Couisnard were added via the transfer portal. Couisnard, who on Monday had knee surgery and will miss the start of the season, scored in double figures last season, as did Barthelemy.
Florida A&M finished 13-17 overall last season, 11-7 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Rattlers have a long road trip to the Pacific Northwest to open this season with three games in five days, starting at Oregon, north to play the University of Portland on Wednesday, and back down south to face Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., two days later.
Oregon has won both previous meetings with Florida A&M, an 88-67 home win over the Rattlers in December 2020 and a 71-64 win in December 2018, also in Eugene.
Florida A&M will have to replace its top seven scorers from last year. The leading scoring among the returnees is guard Dimingus Stevens, who put up just 4.2 points per game.
Coach Robert McCullum is entered his sixth season in charge at Florida A&M, where he has a 54-88 record.
“I’m excited for the 2022-23 season and the opportunity to play prestigious college basketball programs during the nonconference season,” McCullum said. “The season opener at Oregon will be a tremendous challenge for us. … The eight Power-5 games we play will greatly prepare us for the SWAC competition as we want to improve on our fourth-place finish last season.”
–Field Level Media