Matthew Humphrey/

Mike Dunnigan/

Oregon has Chicago flavor

By Dan McGrath | Chicago Tribune staff reporter

LAHAINA, HAWAII - Joevan Catron traveled nearly 3,000 miles to fulfill his goal of playing college basketball, enrolling at Oregon after a standout career at Thornton in Harvey.

A two-year starter at forward for the Ducks, the muscular junior is more comfortable with life in the Pacific Northwest after a rocky start.

"The first month or so was rough, but I've adjusted now and I'm enjoying it," Catron said.

He has some company this year. Freshmen Michael Dunnigan from Farragut and former Hales Franciscan teammates Matthew Humphrey and Josh Crittle have joined Catron on coach Ernie Kent's roster. Dunnigan is the Ducks' starting center, and shooting guard Humphrey and power forward Crittle are in the rotation.

"It's nice to be around familiar faces," Catron said.

Dunningan had a coming-out party of sorts in the EA Sports Maui Invitational, going for 18 points and 10 rebounds in an opening-round victory over Alabama and getting 18 and seven in just 21 minutes of a semifinal loss to top-ranked North Carolina. But the three-games-in-three-days pace seemed to catch up with him in Wednesday's third-place game and he managed just nine points and one rebound in a 70-57 loss to Texas.

"Michael tweaked his ankle a little bit and we didn't want him moving around on it too much," Kent said. "He'll be fine. He's coming along. He just has to learn to keep pushing himself and play hard every day, not just in games but in practice, and get his rest and take care of his body.

"It's not easy at this level. Sometimes it takes a freshman a while to realize that.".

Kent was an all-state high school star at Rockford West, for many years a Big Nine Conference rival of Freeport, where Crittle has a grandmother.

"I tell Josh I know all about Freeport," Kent said, "and he tells me they know all about coach Kent."

"Our defense stepped up today, and thanks to that we won the game," Sim said.