Fantasy College Basketball Game of the Week: Oregon at UCLA
I try to write each of my college basketball columns with some internal rules. After all, without rules, we'd have chaos. I try not to write about the same teams or players either twice in the same season or too often as the case may be. Yesterday, I think I would have preferred to concentrate on Syracuse at Louisville or Gonzaga at Butler, but I had already written about the Cardinals and Bulldogs in earlier Fantasy College Basketball Games of the Week. So, I settled for Oregon at UCLA. It was a decent game, but the Pac 12 has a stink on it that almost makes "mid-major" games more exciting. The western-most conference has been down the past few years, but the recruits at these two schools plus Arizona should have things on the upswing. However, that wasn't really what I witnessed.
I was excited to see Shabazz Muhammad for the Bruins. I had watched bits and pieces of earlier games, and had come away impressed by the 6-6 freshman. He is very aggressive offensively and has a nice looking jumper. However, because of a violation of team rules, Muhammad didn't start. Without team rules, we'd have chaos (or possibly a more enjoyable game) and Muhammad never really got into the rhythm of the game. He took some poor shots (early in the shot clock, rebounders not in place) and did not have the kind of effect you'd expect from a player projected to be an early lottery pick. This was just one game and perhaps Muhammad's worst of the season, but I was hoping for more.
In fact, the most impressive player in the game was another Bruin freshman, 6-9 point forward Kyle Anderson. I've written about my enjoyment of point forwards and Anderson may be one of the better ones. He has excellent court vision and had one particularly beautiful bounce pass for an easy score. Anderson looks like he can score as well and has good ball handling skills for such a big player. Commentator Doug Gottlieb noted that Anderson is not a great athlete, but he is certainly good enough to be a star for the Bruins. His lack of hops could make his draft stock fall for the next level, but that may keep him in school, which would be more than ok with me. I like to watch talented passers.
The match up between Anderson and Oregon forward Arsalan Kazemi might be one of my favorites of the season. I had Kazemi on one of my fantasy teams three years ago when he was a freshman at Rice. He proved that he could chew up Conference USA competition. However, against Pac 12 players, he did not stand out. Kazemi did collect 11 rebounds and the Ducks pounded the offensive glass, but if you didn't know his back story (first Iranian-born player, double-double machine for the Owls), you probably could have overlooked the 6-7 senior. Duck big men Tony Woods and Waverly Austin are both transfers like Kazemi. They were effective against the Bruins, but neither looked particularly athletic or smooth around the basket. Despite their size, I don't think either player will be heard from once they leave Eugene. Senior E.J. Singler also looked awkward around the hoop.
The best news for the Ducks may be their backcourt. Both Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson are freshman. Doston had a tough shooting game, but hit a pair of 3-pointers to finish with 11 points. The 6-5 Houston native is leading Oregon with 11.9 points and looks like he has a nice upside. Artis is a 6-1 point guard who has started since the opening tip. He also hit two 3-pointers and finished with 14 points and six assists. He should be allowed to grow into his point guard role and combine Dotson to form one of the best backcourts in the country if both players stick around. Oregon is already 5-0 in conference and looks ready to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.