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October 31, 2010 at 7:58 AM

Oregon coach Dana Altman: “Nobody is feeling sorry for us”

Pac_10_Media_Day_Basketball dana.JPG
Photo credit: AP Photo – Reed Saxson
It’s not as if Dana Altman (above) took over an Oregon men’s basketball team that was in ruins. The Ducks have fallen on hard times, but last season they posted a respectable 16-16 record, tied for eighth in the Pac-10 and at one point had a six-game winning streak.
But everything imploded after the season. Ernie Kent was released. Altman was hired. Players transferred. And the NCAA launched an investigation pertaining to player’s eligibility.
Oregon returns just two starters, junior guard Malcolm Armstead and sophomore wing E.J. Singler. Armstead considered transferring, but decided against it. He’s the leading returning scorer, who averaged 10.3 points last season.
Oregon’s next returning leading scorer Jeremy Jacob underwent knee surgery last week and will likely miss the first few weeks of the season.
Given the upheaval, the Ducks were predicted to finish last in the preseason media poll.
Altman declined to talk about the on-going investigation last week at Pac-10 Media Day, however, he was candid about what has been an eventful summer in Eugene and the long road ahead for the Ducks.
(You had a busy summer. Are things starting to return to normal?) “Things are moving forward. We’re a little undermanned this year. We only got 10 players on scholarship, but our recruiting is going really well. We got four commitments that we’re really excited about. Hopefully that will continue. You just want your players to continue to improve. Keep talking to them about hey we can’t change anything in the past, we just got to keep looking ahead and keep working. So I have to take that attitude. But people have been great. The administration and everybody at the university has been great. We just have a lot of work ahead of us.”
(If you just have 10 scholarship players, are you able to practice?) “We’re going to add some more walk-ons. We’re going through certification on a few of them trying to make sure we get everything straight with the NCAA and get them on the roster. So we have to add some walk-ons so we can practice because we got a couple of guys hurt right now so we’re basically down to eight scholarship athletes right now.”
(Have you felt any sympathy from any of the Pac-10 coaches?) “No. [Laughter] Nobody cares. Everybody has got the first year that they got to go through. Nobody is feeling sorry for us that’s for sure.”
(What have you seen from Malcolm Armstead?)

“Well he’s really talented. His instincts are really good. He’s a very talented point guard. If you want one position to be strong at, that’s the place to start. He’s got to be more consistent. If he does that I think he’s got tremendous upside. But right now he’s been going through some ups and downs like the rest of our guys learning the system and trying to get a handle on it. But he is a very talented young man.”
(How would you describe the style of the teams you had at Creighton?) “Well we’ve always defensively pressed and ran a lot of man to man and changed things up defensively. Offensively we spread the floor and drive the ball to the basket. Take a lot of threes. We’ve been a usually fairly high-scoring team for the Missouri Valley (Conference). I think the Pac-10 kind of fits our style, up and down. So it should be a style that works well within the league. It’s pretty similar to a way a lot of teams play except we probably press a little more than most teams.”
(Does your brand of basketball fit the players you have on the roster?) “You know not bad. There are going to be some adjustments that we have to make to give ourselves an opportunity to win. Still I think it’s close enough that we want to get our style started. And the people that will be back next year, we want them to have a feel for the way we play. So we’re going to maybe not go quite the way we want to, but we’re going to get it as close to our style as possible.”
Gary Parrish at previews the Pac-10 and he believes three teams will advance to the NCAA tournament. Parrish also picked UW to win the conference and Isaiah Thomas to win the Player of the Year award.
— ESPN has a nice compilation of Pac-10 stories from Diamond Leung who covered Media Day on Thursday.
— Washington State coach Ken Bone tells ESPN junior forward DeAngelo Casto has been hampered by a left knee injury for over a year.
— On ESPN’s subscriber site, NBA draft analyst Chad Ford ranks the Pac-10 top five prospects. No one from Washington is included. He’s got three UCLA Bruins on the list.
— It’s a little old, but Stanford received some good news this week when Illinois point guard Chasson Randle chose the Cardinal over Illinois and Purdue. He’s ranked 38th overall by ESPN and 68th by Rivals.
— A couple of recruiting sites are reporting Colorado received a commitment from Los Angeles point guard Askia Booker.
—- USC held a private scrimmage Saturday morning against Air Force.

Comments | Topics: Askia Booker, UCLA


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