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Former Indian Armstead Proving a Point with Ducks
by Chris Hagan – Statesman Journal

1/07/10

Like a lot of out-of-state students at the University of Oregon, Malcolm Armstead has had a little trouble getting used to the weather, having grown up in humid Florence, Ala.

There have been plenty of other things to get used to, as well.

The 6-0, 204-pound sophomore had to learn the Oregon offense and is running the point for a team 2-0 in Pac-10 play heading into Sunday's Civil War game at McArthur Court.

Armstead's average of 11.7 points per game and his team-high 423 minutes make it seem as if the transition has been easy.

"Did you know he was going to step in and handle college and everything we're teaching and the academics and everything else?" Oregon head coach Ernie Kent said.

"He may make it look easy, but it's a lot more difficult than what you know, and he's done a terrific job so far."

Armstead transferred this off-season after helping Chipola College finish third at the 2009 National Junior College Athletic Association national championship.

After being a scoring threat at Central Park Christian in Florence, Armstead averaged 6.8 points per game with 4.9 assists in a pass-first position at Chipola.

He said his decision to come to Oregon was based on Kent and the job he has done with other Oregon point guards such as teammate Tajuan Porter and current Houston Rockets player Aaron Brooks.

"Ernie Kent, he's had great point guards and he turned them loose and let them make plays," Armstead said. "I figured I could come here and have a chance to be one of those successful point guards."

Armstead didn't start in Oregon's first four games, but since then he has been a staple in the lineup, playing 74 percent of the minutes.

Kent said the sophomore has stabilized the point guard position, switching off with Porter at times. Teammates are seeing more open shots, with Porter (13.5 ppg) and post Michael Dunigan (12.4 ppg, back-to-back double-doubles) being the biggest beneficiaries.

Armstead "comes in knowing his role, which is the point guard position and handling the ball," Dunigan said. "He does a great job at it. He distributes the ball the way a point guard is supposed to do. He's pass first, shoot second, and it's helped us a lot."

Although the sophomore is averaging 4.5 assists per game, Kent also has made it a point to get Armstead involved in the scoring, as well.

"I would say I'm getting more comfortable in the situation that I'm in," Armstead said.

"I was used to just passing it and creating and breaking people down for other people to score. At times, it's like I'm breaking them down and getting there, so why not just finish it? That's what my coach been saying."

The biggest shot came in a 91-89, double-overtime win at Washington State, when Armstead drove the length of the floor with eight seconds left for the game-winning layup.

"I actually wasn't really paying attention to the time, and I just heard coach say go. I looked up at the clock and there were like five seconds, and that's when I went to the hole," he said.

Armstead still is learning how to combine his scorer's mentality from high school with the pass-first point guard he was in junior college.

Although the results seem to suggest that Armstead has the routine down, Kent said he's been bringing Armstead along slowly.

"He's still got a lot of growth potential because he only knows maybe close to half of what we do offensively right now," Kent said. "He just needs to learn a lot more, and each day he wants to learn, he can get better and better still."

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