Altman, Oregon want to finish
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
EUGENE, Ore. – On paper, it was just a road win at UCLA.
But in so many ways, it was more than that for the Oregon men’s basketball program. Beating the Bruins gave the Ducks their second win over a ranked opponent in nine days, plus a sweep of the Los Angeles schools. It also put them atop the league standings and cemented them as a Pac-12 title contender.
So when third-year coach Dana Altman entered the postgame locker room Saturday, his players huddled up and jumped all around – and on top of – Altman.
“He didn’t say much,” senior E.J. Singler says, “but he didn’t have to say much. You could just see it on his face, how happy he was.”
Says junior Johnathan Loyd: “He had that smile on his face. … He was getting kind of pin-balled.”
“I feel like in everybody’s mind, we were like, ‘We’re doing this. Now we control our own destiny.’ That game put us on top of the Pac, and we’re going to try to stay there.”
After beating Washington State Wednesday night, the 19th-ranked Ducks moved to 6-0 in conference play for the first time since the 1925-26 season, back when they were members of the Pacific Coast Conference and 14 years before the “Tall Firs” won the first NCAA men’s basketball championship ever held.
Prior to the start of this season, Oregon was predicted to finish seventh in the league, miles behind preseason favorites UCLA and Arizona. So much of the buzz surrounding the Pac-12 has centered on both of those teams – the up-and-down nature of the star freshmen at UCLA and Sean Miller’s elevation of the Arizona program as prominent storylines.
“There were a lot of people questioning where we were and basically handing everything over to Arizona and UCLA, and I think our guys had a chip on their shoulder about that,” Oregon assistant coach Kevin McKenna says.
Altman says that during first two seasons at Oregon, he says he was constantly scrambling, trying to cobble together a competitive team after the exodus six of players that took place during the coaching change. He, … [For more on Altman, Oregon want to finish what they've started, click here.]