So who should be starting at point guard for the Oregon Ducks?- Check out these numbers from sophomore Brandon Lincoln and freshman Aaron Brooks:
Lincoln Ñ 16.7 minutes per game, averaging 6.7 points, shooting .591 (13 of 22) on field goals, .563 (9 of 16) on 3-pointers, 11 turnovers.
Brooks Ñ 25.7 minutes, 6.6 points, .325 from field, .386 from 3-point land, 24 turnovers in only 63 more minutes played than Lincoln.
Coach Ernie Kent wants to get his star freshman adjusted quickly to Division I basketball. This doesn't seem to bother Lincoln.
'It's the coach's decision to bring him along, put him into the position that he will be holding on to during his time here,' says Lincoln, who starred at Jefferson High. 'Sooner the better, I think. Just put him in situations and let him acclimate.'
But Lincoln may well be on his way to an MVP season Ñ Most Versatile Person. Kent can call on the 6-4 Lincoln to guard any of three players on the floor Ñ the point guard, shooting guard or small forward. Lincoln has been defending well, taking smart shots and not turning the ball over.
'I mostly come in wherever necessary,' he says. 'That's my main role, because I can pretty much be solid on both shots.'
Says teammate James Davis: 'Whatever his role is, he'll accept it. He's solid, a smooth 6-4 point guard who's still trying to find his niche. He's also got the capability of beating guys off the dribble. Defensively, he should be a huge advantage Ñ he's 6-4 and really athletic. A real good on-the-ball defender.'
One would think that Brooks' ascension to starter would bother Lincoln. Not so, says Davis. 'Off the court, they're the best of friends,' he adds. 'He's real laid-back and cool. Got his head on straight. Real steady.'
Lincoln says Brooks needs to keep an 'open mind.' Translation: Be quiet and listen to the coaches.
'He's a freshman, and it's especially tougher at the point guard position because you have to run the team, and he's still trying to get acclimated,' Lincoln says. 'He's going through the freshman struggles.'
When Davis, Andre Joseph and Luke Jackson leave next year, maybe Lincoln inherits either the '2' guard or small forward spots.
Who knows, maybe he starts this year, although the Ducks -(5-2) have already benefited from his role off the bench.
The Ducks open Pacific-10 Conference play this weekend at USC and UCLA.
Portland got back on the winning track this week as Boise State joined New Mexico and Oregon State among its road victims. The Pilots beat the Broncos 77-72 by Ñ surprise, surprise Ñ shooting well from the perimeter, creating a fast pace and defending. They got revenge for their loss to Boise State in an earlier meeting. UP held BSU to 37 percent shooting. Point guard Pooh Jeter had 24 points, after a rough four-game stretch, and 'it was encouraging to get contributions from everyone,' coach Michael Holton says.
If they haven't already, NBA scouts could be looking at Portland State guard/forward Blake Walker. The 6-5, 210-pound junior transfer from San Bernardino Valley JC poured in 41 points Tuesday as the Vikings (6-6) won at Tennessee State. Walker scored 33 of PSU's 41 second-half points.
Concordia junior guard Jon Lee was the Cascade Conference player of the week after scoring 19 and 16 points, respectively, in road wins over Southern Oregon and fifth-ranked Oregon Tech. Senior guard/forward Andre Johnson added 29 points in the upset of Oregon Tech. É Lewis & Clark is 7-2 and on a five-game winning streak.
In women's play, Oregon State (7-4, 1-1 Pac-10) has received a boost from junior guard Shannon Howell. Talk about an impressive debut Ñthe 5-9 L.A. resident, a transfer from Nebraska, dropped 32 points on No. 9 Stanford, then added 12 in a surprise win at California.