Dana Altman says Oregon's Nate Bittle has 'made a big jump' this offseason
When opposing teams pull up the scouting report on the Oregon Ducks next season, it probably won’t take long for freshman big man Kel’el Ware to pop up.
But don’t forget about Nate Bittle. The 7-footer has apparently been balling out in practice for coach Dana Altman and his team, and Altman offered up some major praise for his efforts on Wednesday.
“I was after Nate all last year. He and I had more conversations about playing harder, working harder,” Altman told reporters during a press conference to preview the team’s upcoming five-game trip through Canada. “But I’m really pleased with his efforts. He’s bringing it to practice, trying to play through some bumps and bruises, has been working on his body.
“He’s made a big jump.”
Coach Altman 🗣
— Oregon Men's Basketball (@OregonMBB) August 17, 2022
The Central Point, Oregon, native played in 20 games and averaged 1.7 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks a game last season. A 5-star recruit in the 2021 class, the minutes just weren’t there immediately for him.
N’Faly Dante and Franck Kepnang primarily manned the center spot for the Ducks, who regularly played with just one traditional post player on the floor and the 6-foot-8 Quincy Guerrier working as more of a perimeter-based 4. Kepnang left the team this offseason, opening up a potential role for Bittle to step in and produce.
The addition of Ware to the frontcourt gives Altman a chance to experiment with two-big lineups a bit more. Ware’s a fluid athlete with skill and touch. He can extend his game out beyond the arc, which would allow someone like Bittle — who took just five 3s in 159 minutes last year — a chance to stay in his comfort zone offensively.
Or, maybe Bittle’s game expands, too.
“Nate’s shooting it better,” Altman said.
The Ducks will play five exhibition games in Canada from Aug. 21-26.