If Dana Altman's Ducks aren't showing up, why should he expect the fans?
Oregon's season ended in the NIT for a second year in a row. Oregon's longtime coach wasn't happy about it.
EUGENE — Dana Altman’s been pissed before.
You’ve all seen it. The foot stomp. The pointing. The barking from the sidelines usually accompanied by some sort of “Bend your Knees” or “Get back,” the growling from the locker room that almost always roots back into midwestern pleasantries once the cameras start rolling.
Tuesday was something different. It was just a couple of minutes into Altman’s post-game press conference after Oregon’s 61-58 NIT quarterfinal loss against Wisconsin, and the 64-year-old Oregon coach was, well, laughing.
Had something broken?
This team certainly felt like it could do that to someone, especially a coach of Altman’s stature who at one point had this building empty every March with the Ducks off attending the Big Dance.
Of course, emphasis on the “at one point” there, because for the last two seasons the Ducks have been listless. It’s been two years of injuries, of Altman not having to “run players out of the gym,” of not having a team that could play with its head and heart at the same time. That showed up until the very end: On Wisconsin’s game-winning three, Chucky Hepburn was left unguarded after Altman specifically singled the Badgers’ guard out in the previous timeout.
“You can tell them exactly who to guard. Then they leave them,” Altman said. “We played hard. We didn’t play smart.”
But again, that criticism isn’t terribly unlike Altman. Just like after last year’s disappointing NIT exit, Altman said they’ll revaluate everything, beginning with him, before moving onto his assistant coaches and players. They’re going to find guys who want to be here, he said, just as he has in the past. Oregon has everything too good to be just 21-15 at the end.
“If they’re going to stay here, they’re going to work their asses off,” he said.
But where Tuesday night took a turn is when Altman said, “what the heck” and directed his ire toward the crowd.