Oregon’s closed scrimmage against Kansas State wasn’t a secret.
The NCAA allows Division I schools to play each other in one preseason scrimmage, but it must be closed to the public and schools aren’t able to release any statistics from the game.
However, after Oregon and Kansas State played in Denver on Saturday, college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman tweeted out a box score with the NCAA logo that showed the Wildcats defeating the Ducks 75-70.
“They put out the score and everything, but we didn’t even know the score during the game,” Oregon junior point guard Payton Pritchard said. “We were just working on new things. It was definitely not a real game at all.”
That was apparent when the box score showed five quarters.
“We played two 10-minute quarters and three eight-minute segments,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “We wiped the score clean every quarter. … I have no idea what they counted on the stat sheet.”
Pritchard had no idea who was counting Oregon’s five assists on 28 baskets.
“They weren’t actually accurate,” said Pritchard, who was credited with a team-high two assists to go with 24 points. “We came back and there were a lot more assists than were on there. We have got to make more plays for each other, but we got better throughout that scrimmage.”
Kansas State is ranked No. 12 in the preseason after returning all five starters from a trip to the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight, including 6-foot-9, 228-pound Dean Wade and 6-9, 225-pound Makol Mawien.
“It was good for us to play an experienced, physical team,” Altman said. “Lot of positives, lot of negatives, and a lot to work on.”
Oregon has one more chance to warm up for the regular season when it hosts Western Oregon in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Wolves are a Division II program that went 31-2 last season, but returns just one starter while being picked to finish third in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
The 14th-ranked Ducks, who open the season against Portland State on Tuesday night at Matthew Knight Arena, are down to nine scholarship players with freshmen Louis King and Will Richardson slated to miss the start of the season due to injuries. Pritchard seems likely to be joined by Ehab Amin, Bol Bol, Kenny Wooten and Paul White in the starting lineup.
“I have no idea,” Altman said of possible rotations. “We will throw five guys out Thursday and then throw five out on Tuesday. It will be a work-in-progress through November for sure and probably through December.”
Pritchard and White begin their third year in the program as the most experienced players on the roster. Wooten, Victor Bailey and Abu Kigab return as sophomores while the Ducks mix in Amin, a senior grad transfer, and five freshmen.
“Our approach is a lot different this year,” Pritchard said. “I’d say leadership is better. Our team chemistry is better because we have more returners than last year so we are on the same page.”
Oregon trailed Kansas State 38-24 following the two 10-minute periods before outscoring the Wildcats 46-37 in the three eight-minute segments.
“Obviously they were experienced and it showed at the beginning,” Pritchard said. “We knew going into the season that we’d go through some bumps. That scrimmage was good for us to start off. We have to be more physical and as the scrimmage went on, we got better and started figuring out some things, so it was good for us.”
Altman was frustrated with his team walking the ball up the court in the early quarters while allowing Kansas State to set the tempo.
“We are really good when we run the floor and that starts with me pushing it,” Pritchard said. “We are so athletic that we can get easy buckets that way.”
One stat that would be hard for the scorer to get wrong was three-pointers where Oregon finished 4-for-24.
“Guys have to have to keep working and have confidence in that shot,” Pritchard said. “We’d like everybody to be able to shoot the three and make our team deeper.”
Depth will be an issue early without King and Richardson on the floor as freshman walk-on Will Johnson could get minutes backing up Pritchard at the point. Oregon used 10 players for at least seven minutes in the scrimmage against Kansas State.
“It was the first time playing somebody that is not us so we were getting a feel for the game and seeing each other against other offenses and defenses,” Bailey said. “Kansas State is a strong team and that was good because we need a big, strong team to get us into it and moving to get ready for the season.”