Dana Altman: Hired to Bring Consistency to Oregon Ducks Basketball

So it appears that the PK's have finally come to a consensus about going after a coach that was not a big name, splashy, marquee guy, and they've settled on Dana Altman from Creighton University; a Jesuit university in Omaha, Nebraska.

Dana Altman has been a coach going on 30 years now.  His reputation is impeccable.  He's known as a coach who will get his players to work hard, he'll capitalize on weaknesses of opponents, and play to the strengths of his own players.  He's a serious X's and O's coach and his teams always play defense.  He made the NCAA Tourney 7 out of 9 years and appeared in (legit) post season play 12 years in a row.  He's coached at small schools (Southeast CC, Moberly CC, Western State), a big school (Kansas State ‘90-‘94) and mid-majors (Marshall '89-'90 and Creighton '94-'10).

There's a lot to like about this hire.  What Oregon lacked in consistency of play and results will quickly be remedied by Altman.  He is a measure of consistency.  At KSU he had records of 16-14, 19-11, and 20-14.  At Creighton during his Tourney runs he had records of 22-9, 23-10, 24-8, 23-9, 29-5, 20-9, 23-11, 20-10, 22-11, 22-11, 27-8.  That's an impressive 11 straight years of 20 wins or more.  Looking at some of the metrics (see below) you can see that his teams have done a good job of playing defense.  I will not say that Altman's teams play up tempo (his highest efficiency years [points per possession] were in the 114 range, while Oregon had a couple of years in the 120 range).  But his teams  have done a very good job of playing defense (his highest Defensive Efficiency FG % was 49.6% in '05, while Oregon's lowest was 49.1% in '05).

There are really only three categories that are of concern when it comes to Atlman:

1.       Turnovers - Even in some of his higher win years, Altman's teams have not had a very good turnover percentage.  We definitely aren't getting a coach that is going to a ball control, don't take chances, vanilla offense.  I'm really interested to see how that plays out at a major conference where 18 games a year, the teams know you, are prepared for you and your personnel and the average player is at a higher level than some of the mid majors he's faced, especially when you're not playing an up tempo style of offense.

2.       Averages - He's an average coach.  His stats are really pretty average across the board.  There really isn't one area that you look at and you're blown away by his team's performance.  Sure he's succeeded at a mid major, but would we want a coach that hasn't?  His age is rather average for a coach (51), and for all intents and purposes, there aren't a lot of reasons to get overly excited that he decided to coach at Oregon.  If you feel rather ho-hum about the hire, you have plenty of reasons for doing so.  Statistically his offense is rather average (not fast, not slow), his defense is about average (or maybe a little above average, but not stellar), his records for a good mid major program are rather average, and his tourney record is pretty average (only two NCAA Tourney wins).  What isn't average about him now?  His salary.  Which leads me to number 3.

3.       Why Now? - He's been courted by some really good universities over the years (and I'm sure you'll hear plenty about the Arkansas snafu over the next couple of days) like Arkansas, ASU, Miami, Tennessee and even Illinois.  So what made a Nebraska guy, coaching a Nebraska school (most likely for as long as he chooses) leave home for Eugene, Oregon?  Was it the money (reportedly $2MM per for 7 years)?  Was it the desire to finally prove himself on a larger scale?  Or was it the fact that after a couple of down years at Creighton and the schools finally stopped calling he realized that maybe he'd passed up his chance at a bigger pay day?  Until Oregon called.  I'm sure this question will most likely be responded to with pat answers over the next couple of weeks.  For me the answers will come in the next couple of years.  If he's serious about building a quality program and making something of this opportunity, he'll hit the recruiting trail hard (and Oregon/NW have some really good recruits coming up in the next couple of years).  He'll work his butt off to make sure a bunch of guys who are still here finish their career at Oregon in solid fashion.  He'll make hard, tough and fair choices about who to recruit, who to keep and who should leave to break up the classes and put Oregon in a sustainable situation for success.  Lastly, and just as important, if not more so, he'll recruit and train good kids that respect the opportunity they are being given (like himself) to play for Oregon and will study and work hard to make the University proud.  These are the answers I want to see, not hear, and I am more than willing to give him the opportunity to do so.

In conclusion, I understand why Altman was hired.  At first I was very conflicted.  I didn't like it, then I liked it, then I didn't and so on and so forth.  But now I understand it.  Oregon tried to hire a marquee name and get someone to come in here and shoot this program through the roof at a record pace.  They failed.  So instead they decided to address the area that was most glaring with Kent and that was consistency.  If you can't take the elevator to elite program, you might as well take the stairs at a consistent pace.  They got a guy who will instill a consistent work ethic, offense, defense, recruiting (more to come on that later) and approach to college basketball.  I think why I didn't like it at first was because it didn't fit the Oregon mold (get a progressive, innovative coach who will excel in a couple of areas and use supports around him to create an elite program).  This hire was a safe hire.  Altman will not embarass the University.  He'll put Oregon back on the road to excellence, and away from consistent inconsistency.  He may not take Oregon all the way to the top of elite status, but he could end up being an integral step along the way.

Creighton

Record

Efficiency

Def Efficiency

Effective FG Pct

Def Eff FG %

Turnover %

Off Reb %

3-Pt %

2-Pt %

Steals %

2010

18-16

106.8

100.6

50.1

47.8

18.3

30.7

33.6

49.9

8.8

2009

27-8

110.0

98.1

51.6

48.0

17.8

29.3

38.0

48.3

8.7

2008

22-11

108.1

95.3

51.6

48.2

20.8

32.8

36.1

49.9

9.4

2007

22-11

113.5

91.5

50.7

48.1

19.9

33.9

33.8

50.7

9.3

2006

20-10

105.9

92.7

48.7

46.5

20.5

32.9

35.7

45.7

9.5

2005

23-11

114.8

96.7

53.3

49.6

18.4

31.0

41.4

47.6

9.4

2004

20-9

106.8

94.7

51.0

47.6

20.3

32.7

38.5

48.2

10.6

2003

29-5

113.8

93.2

56.6

47.8

19.5

33.9

39.0

 

 

Oregon

2010

16-16

104.0

99.1

47.9

51.5

18.8

35.4

33.9

46.7

8.6

2009

8-23

102.7

101.9

46.9

54.9

21.2

32.0

35.8

42.7

9.8

2008

18-14

120.2

99.6

55.8

50.3

18.3

31.4

39.2

53.8

8.5

2007

29-8

120.3

93.4

53.4

49.2

18.5

35.4

39.0

49.7

8.5

2006

15-18

113.7

96.8

51.9

49.5

19.2

34.8

33.5

52.9

9.0

2005

14-13

106.1

97.5

52.2

49.1

22.1

34.2

33.8

53.0

9.5

2004

18-13

110.4

98.3

54.1

49.6

21.4

32.3

40.0

50.0

9.1

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