Oregon is traveling a long way to begin the season, and two of its key players didn't go along.
That fact as well as having to face fellow NCAA tournament team Georgetown may put the Ducks' preseason ranking in jeopardy.Neither team will be satisfied with simply getting back to the NCAAs this season, and one of them has a chance to make an opening-night statement Friday as No. 19 Oregon faces the Hoyas on a U.S. Army base in South Korea.These programs traveled overseas to show support for the troops in the Armed Forces Classic at Camp Humphreys."Our guys are fortunate. They get to go to this university and play collegiate basketball, but there are young men making sacrifices and young ladies making sacrifices," Ducks coach Dana Altman said. "So it's our way of saying a small thank you to the service that they give our country."Altman's squad made the trip without sophomores Dominic Artis and Ben Carter, both suspended indefinitely Tuesday for violating NCAA rules against selling team-issued apparel."Ben and Dominic are two good young men who made a poor decision that was against NCAA rules," Altman said. "I feel that both regret their decisions and the impact that it has on their teammates and our university."Artis was likely to start in the backcourt after averaging 8.5 points and 3.2 assists last season. Carter was expected to see extended minutes off the bench after doing so as a freshman, and his absence leaves the Ducks thin up front.However, a pair of key offseason additions could make up for those absences along with helping Oregon improve upon its run to the round of 16 in March. Junior guard Joseph Young transferred from Houston after averaging 18.0 points last season, and forward Mike Moser left UNLV after an injury-plagued junior year but scored 14.0 per game as a sophomore.Those transfers, along with sophomore standout Damyean Dotson and Pac-12 tournament MVP Johnathan Loyd, have Oregon feeling confident it could do even better than last season's 28-9 record."Once we come together, I think we'll be better than last year," Loyd said. "We have lots of solid athletes from top to bottom."Georgetown might not be quite as loaded, especially after losing what was clearly its best player -- No. 3 overall draft pick Otto Porter. His departure and the absence of Greg Whittington, out indefinitely after knee surgery, leaves the Hoyas with some questions in the frontcourt.However, the backcourt appears to be solid with preseason All-Big East first teamer Markel Starks, the team's top returning scorer (12.8 ppg), along with D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Jabril Trawick."We have one of the best backcourts in the country," Smith-Rivera said.Even with that trio last season along with Porter, the Hoyas fell in their opening game of the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years to finish 25-7. Last season, the loss came to No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast after the Hoyas had finished tied for the Big East regular-season title."There absolutely is carry-over," coach John Thompson III said. "You just have to take a step back and go through the process of introspection. ... We have to continue to analyze and figure out how we can not end like we did."While Georgetown was picked to finish second in the revamped Big East, Oregon was picked fourth in the Pac-12 despite winning the tournament title last season. The Hoyas received 11 votes in the preseason AP poll.Georgetown defeated Oregon in 2005, and the Ducks returned the favor the following year in the only two meetings between the programs.