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Crosswhite hopes workouts pay off

Happy holidays, Ian Crosswhite. Now get back to work.- The sophomore center has stayed in Eugene to work on losing weight and fine-tune his shot as the Ducks (5-2) go through an 11-day layoff before opening the Pacific-10 Conference season Jan. 2 at USC and Jan. 4 at UCLA.

Of course, it would have been tough for Crosswhite to go home for Christmas and New Year's, being that home is in Australia Ñ a 28-hour round-trip away. So the talented, 6-11 left-hander planned to work on his game nearly the whole break.

He bulked up some in the offseason and worked on his quickness and 'explosion.' But Crosswhite feels he still has work to do, although he's off to a pretty good start, averaging 14.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and shooting .550 from the field.

'I don't know if I feel I've really turned the corner,' he says. 'I'll get in better shape, maybe lose a few more pounds, so I can get up the court better.'

Crosswhite entered the year at 250 pounds. Although adept at shooting perimeter shots, including the 3-pointer, he heard over and over from coach Ernie Kent and his assistants about the importance of playing down low, where he played reluctantly last season.

'We need a dominant low-post player, right now,' Kent says. 'And I think we have two, with him and Mitch Platt.'

Not to say Crosswhite shouldn't fade out and shoot the 3. He shot only his eighth 3-pointer last week at Portland, sinking it for his second of the year. Crosswhite believes he could shoot 60 percent from 3-point land Ñ if, and when, he picks his spots to shoot.

He admires Luke Jackson, who seems to never force up bad 3-pointers. 'Just take your time, be patient,' Crosswhite says. 'He definitely has the right timing for that shot.'

He says the coaches have not mandated that he stay down low.

'They've told me to do what I think I can do,' he says. 'Ernie says, 'Knock 'em down.' '

'I want him to find that jumper again,' Kent says. 'I envision Jay (Anderson) and Ian playing the 2-3 positions, and moving Luke Jackson to the post' to pose matchup difficulties for opponents.

Crosswhite says he feels more comfortable in Eugene after being homesick last year.

'He's enjoying the college experience,' Kent says.

Put me in, coach

Walk-on Adrian Stelly, a 6-3 sophomore guard from Portland, has sat on the bench and made all the trips with the Oregon men.

Stelly tried out for the team, and Kent kept him. Last week, Stelly says with pride, he helped the Ducks limit Portland star Donald Wilson to five shots and only four points.

Stelly played at Benson, graduating in 2002. Like Olatunde Sobomehin, another former Benson player who walked on at Stanford, Stelly sees himself as an end-of-the-bench energizer. Practice fodder, you could call them. It's a good gig for a college kid, if you can get it.

Stelly has played in two games, for three minutes. No other stats achieved.

The waiting game

Darren Cooper, who played with Stelly at Benson, says he will join the Portland Pilots next year.

Effectively taking a redshirt year, Cooper has been taking classes at Portland Community College to finish his two-year degree to qualify academically, after he transferred some credits over from Eastern Washington. He played at Eastern in 2001-02 and started out the next season on the roster before leaving; Eastern officials, however, failed to release him.

He'll enter UP with only two years of eligibility remaining. But he should help the Pilots next year. Portland will need a guard to replace Adam Quick. Ben Sullivan, a 6-10, 240-pound transfer from Cal State-Northridge who prepped at Lake Oswego, must sit out this season under NCAA transfer rules. But he could help next year if he can be the legitimate center the Pilots need to make their lineup whole.

Contact Jason Vondersmith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .