Originally posted on FishDuck.com:
The Full Court Press: Oregon Basketball – The Preseason, Part I
Almost open for business.
For Dana Altman and the Oregon Ducks men’s basketball program, the future is imminent and imperative. For the second season in a row, Oregon finished competing in a national tournament…just not THE national tournament.
In 2011, Altman defeated his former program, Creighton, in a three-game series to win the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) tournament.
Last season the program made its 10th overall appearance in the postseason National Invitation Tournament (NIT), falling to top-seed Washington in the quarterfinal round to end the 2011-2012 campaign. It was the first time since 2004 the Ducks played in the NIT.
Oregon is now 13-11 overall in NIT games, advancing to the NIT semifinals on three separate occasions (1975, 1999, 2004). For the second consecutive season, they finished the regular season tied for second place (with California) in the Pac-12 standings. It was UO’s best conference record since the 2001-02 season, when the Ducks won the regular-season crown with a 14-4 league mark.
Almost half of Oregon’s league wins last season came on the road (6-3), proving the Ducks to be one of the top road teams in the Pac-12–the other 11 schools a combined 33-of-79 (.295) in road games. Oregon’s 6-3 road mark was its best since the 1999-00 season, when the Ducks also went 6-3 in conference play. In addition, The Altman-led program has racked up back-to-back 20-win seasons. Not bad for a program that was torn down to its foundation following the Ernie Kent firing, players leaving, the strains of implementing a new system causing more to leave, and the construction of an all-new arena to house the revamped Ducks.
These are all good things, and all point to good things. The problem?
Dana Altman and the team have made it utterly clear that they are in the here and now, not the then and there. Altman made that abundantly vibrant just by laying out his off-season recruiting plan. For starters, he had four-star, 6’8″ power forward Chris Obekpa (NY) within his grasp, but Obekpa chose to stay close to home and play at St. Johns.
That was fine, Altman still held a couple aces at the recruiting poker table. The work the program has put into rebuilding itself is evident to those close to the university and team. Critical basketball minds outside of Oregon are aware of the vast changes going on as well.
Oregon was able to attract the attention of five-star top-10 recruit, Anthony Bennett. The 6’7″ power forward from Henderson, Nev. was ranked as high as seventh on the ESPN 100 list. Bennett’s list consisted of Kentucky, UNLV and Oregon. In the end, like Chris Obekpa, Bennett chose to stay close to home, joining the UNLV Rebels.
Dealer says it’s time to call. Dealer discovers Dana Altman has quite the poker face. So much so, that while he didn’t leave the table with his two dream recruits, he still walked away with quite the prize. The recruiting class that he did come away with is more impressive than it looks.
After all, Altman is the guy who left a tough table in Toronto with two guys named Devoe Joseph and Olu Ashaolu–two players whose previous schools thought were cause to fold.
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