Next up: Civil War
Oregon at Oregon State
When: Sunday, 5 p.m
TV: ESPNU. Radio: 1110 AM, 100.1 FM, 940 AM
Elgin Cook celebrated his 21st birthday on Tuesday, so all of his University of Oregon teammates were rattling off their ages in the locker room.
That is when Damyean Dotson looked around the room and realized he is pretty young to be a veteran.
“I was like, ‘I’m only 19,’” said Dotson, a starting guard for the Duck men’s basketball team. “I feel like I’ve been here forever, but I really haven’t.”
Dotson played for the Ducks last season, which gives him seniority over a big chunk of the locker room. But he is still just a sophomore, an underclassman surrounded by juniors and seniors in Oregon’s starting lineup, so he does not always feel like the guy who should be telling everyone else what to do.
“I guess it can be a little hard when they feel like their little brother (is) looking up, talking loud to them,” Dotson said.
Someone needed to speak up, though, with Oregon entering Sunday’s Civil War game at Oregon State on a three-game losing streak. So Dotson took it upon himself to break the silence.
“I feel like in practice, when nobody’s talking, I’ve got to yell out something like, ‘Everybody talk’ or ‘Let’s get a stop,’ ” Dotson said. “(Tuesday) we practiced for almost three hours.
“I know people were getting bored with practice, but I found myself just yelling out stuff, just talking.”
It is easier to be a leader when your shots are falling, so in that sense, the past few weeks have been good for Dotson.
The Houston native started the season in a 7-for-26 shooting funk but now has scored in double figures in 10 straight games. He is averaging 11.4 points per game, identical to last year, and two weeks ago he delivered the most dramatic play of Oregon’s season on a breakaway dunk to beat Utah in overtime.
It is a different mentality from earlier in the season, when Ducks coach Dana Altman said Dotson was trying to score 20 points with every shot.
“I’ve just been taking good shots and not rushing things, just trying to take the open ones, try to be unselfish,” Dotson said.
Scoring has not been the problem for the Ducks, who rank 199th nationally in field-goal percentage defense.
With five newcomers playing significant minutes, Oregon’s defense has lagged behind its offense. This is when it is nice to have a veteran voice, though Dotson said the floor is not off-limits to newcomers.
“Everybody can talk,” he said. “Everybody respects each other. If somebody has something to say, we all listen.
“It don’t matter if it’s Theo (Friedman), a freshman, or if it’s me or Jason (Calliste). If anybody has something to say, we all listen. There’s no problems in the locker room or anything like that.”
A three-game losing streak has tested the Ducks’ chemistry, especially in its stark contrast to their 13-0 start. Altman admitted that some confidence might be shaken, but he reminded his veterans that the Ducks endured a similar skid last season before advancing to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16.
Dotson was part of that turnaround, unlike a number of his teammates. If that experience can help the Ducks break out of their current slump, he is happy to speak up.
“I remember losing those games last year,” he said. “We just came together at practice and said we were going to step it up and (do) what we have to do to get wins.”