As Oregon studies its next opponent, the Ducks may also get an early look at what could be the highest-ranked opponent on their nonconference schedule.
The 14th-ranked Ducks (1-0) will return to Matthew Knight Arena at 6 p.m. Friday to face Eastern Washington (0-1), which opened the season with a 66-34 loss at No. 16 Syracuse on Tuesday. Oregon could face the Orange on the final day of the 2K Empire Classic in New York on Friday.
Eastern Washington is the final tune-up for the Ducks before heading to Madison Square Garden to play Iowa on Thursday.
The Eagles shot 22.0 percent from the field in the loss to Syracuse, making 13-of-59 shots. Their five starters scored 15 points while the five reserves pitched in 19.
Oregon opened the season Tuesday with an 84-57 win over Portland State, which was picked to finish fifth in the Big Sky Conference preseason coaches poll. Eastern Washington was pegged to place fourth.
As expected, Payton Pritchard, Paul White and Kenny Wooten were the veterans back in the starting lineup against the Vikings along with freshman Bol Bol and grad transfer Ehab Amin. That left the Ducks with three freshmen and two sophomores off the bench.
“People are starting to figure out roles,” said Pritchard, who led the Ducks with 22 points and three assists against PSU. “It feels like with a young team that is a struggle to figure out and accept roles so we need to continue to do that.”
Freshman Will Richardson played eight minutes in the opener after missing nearly three weeks of practice with a foot injury. The 6-foot-5 guard had seven points and one assist.
Altman said he hopes to be able to use Richardson for 10 to 12 minutes against EWU.
“You saw how savvy he is with the ball,” Altman said. “I felt bad for him because he was doing real good in practice and making such good strides and then he had to sit out two and a half weeks so that stunted his growth. He’s going to be a real good player for us.”
With five-star freshman Louis King likely out for at least a month as he recovers from knee surgery and freshman Miles Norris possibly slated to redshirt, Altman has nine scholarship players available to play.
Other than Richardson being on a minutes restriction, the other eight scholarship players were on the court for at least 16 minutes against Portland State. Walk-on Will Johnson entered the game in the final two minutes.
“We are so far away from establishing roles,” Altman said. “We don’t know what everyone can do. Our consistency in practice hasn’t been great. Some of the older guys are more consistent than the new guys, but we have got to be better in practice. We have to do a better job every day to get better.”
Francis Okoro, a 6-9 freshman who reclassified to enter college one year early, had 10 points and six rebounds in 16 minutes against Portland State.
“He has to be physical, be a dog in the paint,” Pritchard said.
The 235-pound Okoro had seven points, nine rebounds and four blocks in an exhibition win over Western Oregon last week.
“He is one guy who is physical,” Altman said. “He could be in high school. I’d hate to be a freshman or sophomore in high school and go against him. I am glad to see him making strides because we need his physicality.”