You wanted fundamentals? You got fundamentals. Mike Dunlap is starting fast in his new role as Associate Head Coach for the Men's Basketball team at Oregon. Whether you buy into him having Drew Wiley say hello to his left hand or not, you can't argue with the philosophy. By most accounts, he is starting to light that fire under an Oregon team that needed something...anything to get them up after a horrible 2008-09 campaign. Going back to basics appears to be the approach that is adding wood to that flame. We are still very early in the offseason but if indications are to be believed, Ernie has addressed one of the main issues detractors cite about his leadership...fundamental basketball.
Make no mistake about this move. I'm sure it was very hard for Ernie to make the decision to not renew the contract of his longtime friend Mark Hudson. At the end of the day, he did what was best for the program. This wasn't Pat Kilkenny coming to Ernie saying "You need to hire Dunlap or you are out of here". This was Ernie understanding the flaws in the program and taking steps to fix it before Kilkenny was forced to fix him. It was Ernie that came up with the idea to go after Dunlap and presented it to Kilkenny. There was no backup plan in place. It was either get Dunlap or bust. The deal was made, Oregon has a new Associate Head Coach and reports out of camp are positive.
Dunlap isn't just revitalizing the teams fundamentals and practices, he's running the show. He's inserting his own expertise into the program, all with the quiet backing of Ernie and the rest of the coaches. Ernie has stepped back, something he hasn't always done in the past. Pressure may have had a lot to do with the changes Ernie had to make but he seems to have understood more than what we gave him credit for. He knows where the program was, where it is, and where it needs to be. Hiring Dunlap and stepping back a bit shows that. The question is, will these moves pan out into wins this next season? The issues in program management seem to be getting addressed but only time will tell.