And like that, it appears the Johnathan Loyd era is over – or at least soon to return to its supporting role – in Eugene. This, of course, means that Dominic Artis will (should?) be returning to action this Thursday as the Ducks host the Beavers in the Civil War. I know for a fact that this has my Oregon friends excited:
Artis has a large brace on his leg, but seems to be moving and cutting without much problem. Shooting well, too.
— Will Rubin (@_WillRubin) February 26, 2013
@pachoopsab We’re just a wee bit excited. Can you tell?
— David Piper (@atqdave) February 26, 2013
Indeed the return of Artis is great news for Dana’s Ducks but it also begs the question: How well did Johnathan Loyd do in the super freshman’s absence? If quick on the trigger, we’d have to say poorly. They were just 5-4 in Artis’ absence (aka with Loyd at the helm) and averaged 18 turnovers per game for which Loyd was responsible for 2+ of.
But the Ducks maintained their first place standing and that has got to count for something everything.
Because I do not believe any team in this conference could have withstood the loss of their point guard and maintained their conference position, let alone first place. Hell, most of the teams can barely hold their own current place so why would we think that any other team could maintain following the loss of a player handling 24% of the team’s possessions and 24% of the team’s shots.
Without a doubt Arits was Oregon’s primary ball handler and shot taker. Shall I rattle off a few other names? If I do it, you have to promise to imagine that player not playing for his team for nine games and the ramifications of such. The following players lead their team in shot %:
- Mark Lyons, 15/2/3, Arizona
- Jahii Carson, 18/3/5, ASU
- JT Terrell, 11/2/1 USC
- Shabazz Muhammad, 18/5/1, UCLA
- Roberto Nelson, 17/3/3, OSU
- CJ Wilcox, 17/4/2, UW
- Brock Motum, 18/6/1, WSU
- Askia Booker, 13/4/2, CU
- Jordan Loveridge, 12/7/2, Utah
That’s a damn All-Conference team. Which isn’t necessarily surprising but I can’t see many, if any, team maintaining whatever level they’ve played without the above players. But Oregon managed and a lot of that has to do with Loyd’s play.
Additionally, the peripheral benefit of this is the confidence gained by Johnathan Loyd and what he’ll bring to the Ducks off the bench as they head into the depths of March with…well…increased depth. Loyd should be commended for his starting services and, if I’m Dana Altman, I’m making it poignantly clear that he is an invaluable member of this team in whatever capacity he’s contributing. As a starter it was 6/1/4. Off the bench, following his previous nine games? Time will tell.
The race for the Conference Title is about as tight as it can get and just one of the three favorites – and lurking Golden Bears – is coming to full strength.