There's always a measure of angst surrounding any new hire, but that goes double for one that went on as long as Oregon's. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Oregon's search knows that Creighton's Dana Altman wasn't the Ducks' first -- or second or third or fourth -- choice. There's a natural concern that maybe Oregon settled, that the coaching search was so badly handled that the team had to take anything they could get. That's a difficult notion for a program with a brand new arena and oodles of money to pay its coach, one that sees itself as a national program with national aspirations. Did we really get the right guy?
With Altman, though, most Oregon fans and media types seem to agree with the overriding consensus: This was a good hire. From Oregon fan blog Addicted to Quack (which, in this writer's humble opinion, is an excellent name for an Oregon Ducks blog):
The big news over the weekend, of course, is the Ducks finally getting a replacement for Ernie Kent. Dana Altman reportedly arrived in Eugene yesterday and will be formally announced as the head coach today. While some fans may be disappointed by the fact that both Altman and Creighton may fail the name-recognition test it sounds like a solid hire. I freely admit that when I heard the news I had to go and research Altman and his Creighton teams -- but, by many accounts he is regarded as a great tactician whose teams play fundamental basketball (and defense!).
Oregon Live's Bob Rickert gave fans a primer on Altman's attractive style which should prove encouraging:
His teams press a lot. A lot. Can't stress how much. Half court, full court, traps, and on and on. You name it, they do it. shoot a lot of 3's. But unlike Kent's teams they shoot them in the half court most of the time.
As a result, he substitutes a lot and plays a very deep bench. Not sure how that'll translate to the conference but he'd better have a deep deep roster. Something the Ducks had in terms of bodies until this past two weeks. Altman will need that if he wants to substitute the way he has in the past.
Some Creighton fans liken it to a hockey game with line shifts rather than substitutions and 3 or 4 players at a time coming into the game. Again, to do that you have to have some depth. Oregon had it two weeks ago, not as much now.
What's important to remember here, too, is that Altman has won with this style. A lot. He's not just a hot mid-major name that turned around a program in three years and got on the national radar, though he is that, too. Altman happens to be a hot mid-major coach whose hot mid-major-ness lasted for 16 years in the same place. If Oregon's goal with this hire was to find someone who will build on Oregon's considerable resources and build the Ducks into the kind of consistent program that competes for the Pac-10 title on a yearly basis, Altman is a really good find. He's already done it on a smaller scale. Now he gets the big program and the big resources. If I'm a Ducks loyalist, I'm excited.