Dana Altman has never had more than two players who were 6-foot-9 or taller in his rotation at Oregon.
The coach’s ninth season with the Ducks will likely feature three starters who are at least 6-9 with up to six regulars in the lineup at that height or taller.
“We are bigger than we have been,” Altman said in a recent interview. “That will change our style some playing with two or three bigs at a time, which we haven’t done. We’ve had a tendency to play small but with personnel differences this year we will be big, which is going against the trend. I think the guys will adjust and we will have to adjust as a coaching staff to play a little different, but I think we will be okay.”
Last season, Kenny Wooten and Paul White — both 6-9 — were the tallest players in the rotation. They'll be joined this season by 7-2 Bol Bol, 6-10 Miles Norris, 6-9 Louis King and 6-9 Francis Okoro.
“We will see how that competition goes, but I do like our depth there and our talent,” Altman said. “Now we have to get them to where they can contain the dribble because they will be playing against smaller people. And we should have a good rebounding team.”
Bol is the tallest player to sign at Oregon under Altman and the most highly-ranked recruit of his coaching career.
“He’s versatile and unique,” Altman said. “He has been real easy to work with and I think he’s going to be exciting for our coaching staff to work with and our fans to watch.”
Bol figures to start at center for the Ducks with King also likely in the opening lineup if he is ready to start the season, but the freshman has yet to practice this summer due to a torn meniscus suffered in January. Either White or Wooten figure to join those two in the front court to open games.
Wooten is listed at 235 pounds this season, 15 more than his freshman season when he averaged 6.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game.
“He has put on some weight and worked awfully hard,” Altman said. “I hope it will give him a little more confidence to be aggressive on offense. Last year at times, he didn’t try to catch the ball. We need him to be more aggressive and try to catch it and be a scorer.”
White is the lone returning senior on the Ducks, who will have four freshmen in the front court.
“Paul is critical to our success because of his leadership and experience,” Altman said. “He’s going to be hard to take off the floor because whatever freshmen are playing with him we'll need him to help them out. Those bigs will all benefit from having him guide them and help them out with our sets and where to go defensively. Paul will be important to us because he understands what we want to do.”
Okoro, who graduated from high school in Illinois one year early to join the Ducks, is listed at 235 pounds, matching Wooten and Bol as the heaviest players on the roster.
“Francis gives us some physicality, he and Kenny and Paul have to be physical,” Altman said. “Bol is thinner and Miles is thin, so Francis is physical around the basket and developing more of a perimeter game. He can stroke it from 15 feet and we want to continue with that. I like his ability to go after rebounds with two hands and he is not afraid to bump people while doing it.”
Oregon has played a three-guard lineup at times in recent seasons, but a lack of depth in the backcourt figures to leave the Ducks with three bigs on the court during most moments next season.
“We need to get the ball inside more and that should open up some perimeter shots for the guys,” Altman said. “We definitely have to build it from the inside.”