With Payton Pritchard on the sideline, Oregon had 19 turnovers during its exhibition victory over Western Oregon, which was not doing much to push the pace.
Portland State will look to speed up the Ducks on Tuesday, but Pritchard will have the ball back in his hands when No. 14 Oregon hosts the Vikings to open the regular season at 8 p.m.
“They play a unique style and they are going to press us for 40 minutes,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said on Monday. “We are going to have to handle the ball a lot better than we did in the exhibition game. Having Payton on the floor is very important for us and Paul White is a good ball-handler at forward.”
Pritchard sat out Thursday’s 77-58 exhibition win over WOU with bruised ribs, but was back at practice on Saturday. White was also absent against the Wolves when he returned home to Chicago for a funeral.
“I was watching the game live and it looked like it was a good start, people needed to get their feet wet,” White said. “People we are going to be relying on got a reasonable amount of time and saw what kind of energy they need to bring to the game. We have to be more active out there on the floor, active hands and active rebounding.”
Oregon will still be without back-up point guard Will Richardson and five-star freshman Louis King. Graduate transfer Ehab Amin, who had five turnovers while initiating the offense in place of Pritchard against WOU, will likely start in the backcourt alongside Pritchard and back him up at point guard.
“(Amin) has to be more conscious of being solid with the ball, but all of our guys do,” Altman said. “This is not the time of year to try things. We have to be solid with the ball and handle it as best as we can.”
Pritchard had 18 points, seven assists and four turnovers last year against PSU, which trailed Oregon by two points with seven minutes remaining before the Ducks pulled away for a 95-84 win.
“Payton is such an experienced and talented kid,” second-year PSU coach Barret Peery said. “They have a lot of talented players, but nobody is more important to their team than him.”
Pritchard will match up once again with Holland Woods, the Big Sky Conference freshman of the year who averaged 10.5 points and 5.6 assists per game. Woods had 10 assists to go with six points and five turnovers against Oregon.
Oregon had 18 turnovers in that game against the Vikings, whose opponents averaged that amount as they ranked second in the nation by forcing 615 turnovers.
“We want to play fast and full-court at both ends, that’s our identity and we are not changing anything,” Peery said.
White scored 15 points in last year’s win over PSU.
“They play gritty and a team like that is unpredictable,” White said. “It is hard to replicate that even in practice. We have done as much as we can to get ready for them. We have to have a lot of confidence in our ball-handling and not allow them to speed up the game. Play at our own pace.”
Woods is Portland State’s lone returning starter from last season while guards Derek Brown and Deante Strickland join forwards Jaime Orme and Brendan Rumel with experience in Peery’s system. Portland State defeated California and Stanford last season en route to finishing 20-14, its most wins in nine seasons.
The Vikings signed five junior-college transfers including 6-8 Sal Nuhu and 6-7 Robert McCoy.
“We have more and more pieces to fit how we play,” Peery said. “I like our group’s confidence and they bought into what we do. We know this is a tough road game, but any coach would be disappointed if they didn’t have a group of guys who think they can win every game.”