April 24, 2010
Almost six weeks after Oregon officially fired longtime basketball coach Ernie Kent, the Ducks finally seem to have found his replacement.
Creighton's Dana Altman is on the verge of accepting an offer to become Oregon's next coach, multiple sources told FoxSports.com's Jeff Goodman on Saturday. The Ducks had previously struck out with a series of splashier names, from Michigan State's Tom Izzo, to Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon, to Butler's Brad Stevens, to Missouri's Mike Anderson.
If Oregon lands the well-respected Altman, it should ease some of the frustration from a bungled coaching search that targeted bigger names than the Ducks were capable of landing. The uncertainty caused three current Ducks to transfer and greatly decreased Oregon's odds of landing unsigned Portland-area seniors Terrence Jones and Terrence Ross.
Altman built a reputation as a elite Xs and Os coach at Creighton in leading the Bluejays to seven NCAA tournaments in nine years from 1999 to 2007. Although he reneged on Arkansas the day after accepting that job three years ago, the timing might be better this time considering the Bluejays have slipped recently and Northern Iowa has eclipsed them as the Missouri Valley Conference's flagship program.
The major question facing Altman will be whether a coach whose ties are almost entirely to the Midwest can recruit the West Coast well enough to succeed at Oregon. Kent used a pipeline to Chicago and Detroit to build the Ducks into a consistent NCAA tournament contender earlier this decade, but a recruiting base in Southern California and the Pacific Northwest might be more logical.
Altman's first priority will be to provide stability for the Ducks, convince the remaining current players to stay put and make a last-ditch attempt to keep Jones and Ross close to home before they commit next weekend.
At this time last year, Arizona stumbled through a coaching search last spring just as ugly as Oregon's and then somehow coaxed Sean Miller into leaving Xavier. Altman isn't as clear-cut a home run hire as Miller, but the Ducks needed to do something and they could have done worse.