Oregon (almost) starts from scratch

Their program rocked by turmoil, the Oregon Ducks made a change by moving all of their players into a single apartment complex.

Graduate assistants live there, too, helping the players make ''day-to-day decisions.''

And coach Dana Altman tries to look at the positives of perhaps the most challenging offseason of his career.

''Well, I've had a 25-year coaching career as a Division I head coach. Six months has not been good, but the other 25 years have been pretty solid,'' he said at Pac-12 basketball media day. ''We've relied on that.''

Three Oregon players - Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Brandon Austin - were dismissed from the team in May when allegations surfaced of a sexual assault involving a female student following last season's regular-season finale. The three were never charged with any crime.

The program was further tainted when two other players, Elgin Cook and Jalil Abdul-Bassit, were charged with theft in the third degree after being accused of shoplifting at a grocery store near Matthew Knight Arena. Under a deferred sentencing program, the charges will be dropped after six months.

Oregon is handling discipline of the pair internally. The two were among just three returning scholarship players for the Ducks, joining senior guard Joseph Young, who was the team's top scorer last season with an average of 18.9 points per game.

The Ducks lost standouts Mike Moser, Jason Calliste and Johnathan Loyd to graduation, while Ben Carter and A.J. Lapray transferred.

In all, Oregon lost 10 players from a team that went 24-10 last season with an 85-77 third-round loss to Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament. It was the second straight year that Oregon had reached the NCAAs after a four-year drought.

New players include four freshmen and two transfers.

''It will be an interesting year. We're going to go through some ups and downs. Our guys are going to have to continue to fight, continue to get better. If they do that, I think we can have a good ballclub,'' Altman said. ''I like our talent. We just don't have much experience.''

The Ducks were picked to finish eighth in the Pac-12 conference in the league's annual media poll.

Here are other things to know as Oregon heads into the season:

TOURNAMENT RECAP: Oregon opened the NCAAs with an 87-68 victory over BYU before falling to second-seeded Wisconsin. Young finished with 29 points for the Ducks but he missed a rushed 3-pointer from the wing, and the Badgers sealed the victory at the free throw line.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU: Still unfamiliar with each other, the Ducks took a collective trip to the grocery store and everyone had to help prepare a meal. ''It was a good team bonding to be in there, talking to the newcomers, trying to figure out what their mindset is, pick their brains a little bit,'' Young said. Oh, and by the way, Young proclaimed himself Oregon's Top Chef with his seasoned pork chops.

THE PROGRAM: The new Ducks also joined in to complete ''The Program,'' an intense two-day, team-building course in September. The course, which several Oregon teams have taken part in, pushes athletes through shared adversity with military-style drills.

LOYD'S SEASON: Loyd, who averaged seven points and 4.7 assists for the Ducks last season, took advantage of an NCAA rule that allowed him a fifth year of eligibility - in a different sport. So Loyd chose to play football. A wide receiver, Loyd has only played sparingly, but he caught a 5-yard scoring pass from Marcus Mariota in a 48-14 victory over Wyoming earlier this season. He was ecstatic: ''I can't even describe it. Once I realized where I was on the field emotions just took over and I started screaming. It felt good.''

TOUGH SCHEDULE: Oregon's nonconference schedule features formidable opponents in Michigan, Mississippi and Illinois. ''We have a very difficult nonconference schedule, so our guys will have to blend together very quickly,'' Altman said. ''It's going to be an interesting year; we're going to go through some ups and downs. Our guys are going to have to continue to fight, continue to come together, and if we do that I like our ballclub.''

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