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Armstead wants to take the reins for Oregon.

Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard

Malcolm Armstead wants it put on him.

The Oregon sophomore wants everything that goes with being the point guard for a basketball team. The need to lead. The pressure of having the basketball in his hands most of the time. The knowledge that his teammates are counting on him to run the show.

And, yes, the blame if things aren't going well should fall his way, too, he said.

"The point guard is judged on wins and losses," Armstead said. "It's kind of like, if I set the tone, then guys will follow.

"If I'm slackin' on offense or defense, it will carry over to them."

That said, the Ducks are 3-2 entering tonight's game against Montana State at McArthur Court, so where does that put Armstead's performance?

He was Oregon's leading scorer with 21 points in 29 minutes in an 88-81 loss to Portland a week ago, and then made his first start in a loss to Montana, finishing with nine points, four assists, four steals but also three turnovers in a team-high 37 minutes.

"I feel kind of crazy because I didn't do enough, maybe," Armstead said. "I feel like I kind of let the team down, but we're going to bounce back.

"Whatever it is that I have to do, whatever it is that the team has to do, we're going to get it straight."

If Armstead hasn't quite taken firm control of the point guard position for the Ducks, it certainly has the look of it heading in that direction.

A transfer from Chipola College, the 6-foot Armstead said he's getting "a lot more comfortable" with his role and "I feel like everybody is comfortable with me."

That seems to be the case.

"He's done a really good job early on," UO coach Ernie Kent said, adding that "there are some things he still has to learn that are very important to take care of at this level.

"A lot of that is the organization stuff on the floor, getting guys in and out of huddles, checking with the bench. ... In terms of his performance on the floor, his confidence and being able to run a team with the ball in his hands, he's done a very good job with that."

Kent said that when the Ducks recruited Armstead, a junior college teammate of fellow Oregon sophomore Jeremy Jacob, "we thought he was a great passing point guard."

Armstead does lead the Ducks in assists with 19 but he's also shooting .515 from the field overall, and has made half of his three-point attempts in averaging 9.0 points.

"He can really score the ball," Kent said. "He's a little better in that area than I thought he would be."

Armstead has driven down the left side of the key enough that teams have already started to overplay him for that attempt to bank in two points at the finish, and he recognizes that.

"People scout you and say I like to drive a lot, which I do," Armstead said. "At the same time, I drive to create for the team."

Still, he's going to face teams that work to prevent the drive completely, and there will be better zone defenses than the one Montana put in the way of the Ducks on Monday night. That's when Armstead will have to prove he's a threat from the outside.

In junior college, he said, "I was kind of a set shooter. Here, it's different. You have to explode into jump shots and I wasn't doing that.

"I'm starting to get a feel for that and my shot is coming back."

And the Ducks? Armstead said they will, too. He compared Oregon's start to this season to the play of his junior college last year, where several newcomers had to be melded into a returning nucleus, and all the players had to settle into their roles.

Chipola did it well enough that it went on to play in the semifinals of the junior college national tournament.

"It was three or four weeks before we started to gel and click, and it's kind of like that for (Oregon) right now," Armstead said, adding that the Ducks, like Chipola, need to work on their chemistry.

"Off the court (at Chipola), we did more things than maybe the usual team will do," Armstead said. "Every time we went somewhere, we went as a team. Every time we did something, we did it as a team.

"We're starting to do that here so things are going to get better real quick."

UO MEN VS. MONTANA STATE

Oregon (3-2)

Malcolm Armstead, 6-0, So. (9.0 ppg, 3.8 apg)

Tajuan Porter, 5-7, Sr. (14.6 ppg, 2.4 rpg)

Teondre Williams, 6-4, So. (14.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg)

Jamil Wilson, 6-7, Fr. (4.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg)

Jeremy Jacob, 6-7, So. (3.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg)

Montana State (2-2)

Marquis Navarre, 5-11, Sr. (7.0 ppg, 8.0 apg)

Will Bynum, 6-3, Sr. (9.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg)

Erik Rush, 6-5, Jr. (15.0 ppg, 4.3 apg)

Bobby Howard, 6-7, Jr. (16.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg)

Branden Johnson, 6-9, Jr. (9.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg)

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Radio/TV: KUGN-AM (590)/Oregon Sports Network.

Tickets: Reserved seats, $21.

UO MEN VS. MONTANA STATE

7:30 p.m. today at McArthur Court. TV: Comcast 37. Radio: KUGN-AM (590)
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Title Annotation:Basketball Oregon Men
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Nov 28, 2009
Words:909
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