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UO, OSU focus on backcourts

On college hoops

The short exhibition season starts this week for Oregon and Oregon State.

A look at both Pac-10 teams:

Oregon: He may be short, but 5-6 Tajuan Porter will contribute immediately for coach Ernie Kent's Ducks. 'He's definitely ready to help us,' Kent says. 'He's a very smart point guard.' He's also a pest on defense - 'size hasn't been a big deal in practice, except in post-up,' Kent says - and Porter has long-range shooting ability.

In addition, fellow true freshman Javon Catron will be in the rotation, even while working back from offseason surgery on his hip; he sat on the sidelines for 10 weeks. He shoots well, and 'he's rough and rugged' in the low post, Kent says. 'Guys say he's a load to guard.'

Walk-on point guard Adrian Stelly (ex-Benson High) will get prime-time minutes. … Mitch Platt, the 6-10 junior post, has lost weight as he gets ready to play again after last season's foot surgery. He's more explosive and confident, Kent says, and he's ahead of Ray Schafer for playing time. Adam Zahn also will get post minutes.

Kent talks often about 'going small' - by using 6-9 Maarty Leunen with versatile Malik Hairston, shooters Bryce Taylor and Chamberlain Oguchi and point guard Aaron Brooks. If the Ducks go small, it will be only 'as long as we can defend,' Kent says.

Oregon State: The backcourt has been getting much work, with redshirt freshman point guard Josh Tarver, true freshman Seth Tarver and veterans Wesley Washington and Angelo Tsagarakis all looking good.

Seth Tarver, the versatile 6-5 Jesuit product, probably will get minutes at point guard, coach Jay John says. 'He protects the ball, and he has great vision,' he says. … Jack McGillis also will factor into the backcourt. … Tsagarakis has great 3-point range, and 'he's shooting the ball very well -better than he ever has,' John says.

Sasa Cuic is in great shape, and the 6-10 junior forward has all-Pac-10 potential, John says. But he wants Cuic and Marcel Jones to take good shots. … Fellow forward Kyle Jeffers 'has more bounce than he ever has,' John says - the concern has always been Jeffers' knees.

A pleasant surprise has been Michael Johnson, the City Christian grad and son of former OSU star Steve Johnson. The 6-5 walk-on senior, who already has graduated, has been defending and rebounding. 'At this rate, without question' Johnson will be in the rotation, John says. 'He's doing every little intangible imaginable for us.'