The time before a season starts for your favorite team can be magical. Everyone is 0-0 and nothing has been yet determined on the field, court, or arena. Optimism is boundless for many, in the hope that your team can play well in the upcoming season. Some will and some won’t, but that’s to be determined in the days and months that lie ahead. For now, hope can reign and fuel the front burner of our imaginary season.
Oregon Ducks Mens Basketball is upon us. Practice begins soon for a season that begins this month with an exhibition against Concordia, on Oct. 29th. Our optimism can begin now for a Duck program that has, under coach Dana Altman, shown tangible improvement in the past two seasons with him as our head coach. It hasn’t been an easy job by any stretch – between departures of recruits that were brought in by coach Kent to the current state of college basketball, where players are changing programs with increasing rapidity, keeping continuity on a roster is an enormous challenge. Coach Altman has displayed a deft hand in bringing together sometimes disparate pieces, and putting together a team, and a program, that has shown improvement week to week and well as season to season.
The proof is in the post season. First was the College Basketball Invitational at the end of Dana Altman’s first season with the Ducks. You can thumb your nose at the CBI and question the wisdom of paying five figures to enter CBI’s so called tournament, and you would have a legitimate case in doing so. What cannot be denied, however, is the result; the Ducks won the CBI in 2011 over Altman’s former school, Creighton. By any measure that can’t be viewed as anything less than a successful end to Altman’s rookie season.
Last year’s Duck squad showed more improvement as Altman again fit pieces to help move the program along, while he started to make his imprint on Oregon Mens basketball with his recruits. Bringing in JC players and one-year players was, and still is, essential to the short term success of his team, as Altman works to bring in more recruits to fill the long term needs of his system. The proof was in a better showing during the regular season, topped by a spot in the National Invitational Tournament. One can’t possibly be displeased by Oregon’s selection to the NIT. Oregon went several games into the NIT before being knocked off by the Huskies, but that was a Washington team that thought they should have been in the NCAA tournament. Stanford won last year’s NIT and that capped a strong showing by all three PAC-12 North Division teams.
The hope that this progress continues into an NCAA Tournament berth this year is hardly unfounded, given coach Altman’s proven record of improvement. We’ll have to wait for the season to play out and see if he is able to again bring together some different pieces and come up with a winning combination. Oregon is improving, but the rest of the PAC-12 is also, after enduring several years of average-at-best play when compared to other leagues. It’s going to be an exciting season for us as fans of the Duck men! There’s no reason not to allow yourself to feel the excitement, and let yourself dream about what lies ahead for the Ducks!
We’ll look at the PAC-12 portion of the season at a later date; for now, you should mark on your calendar some outstanding non-conference home games coming to Matt Court. On Friday, Nov. 16th, the Ducks will host Vanderbilt in what is sure to be a stout, early test of this team. On Saturday, Dec. 15th, Nebraska comes to town, and Ducks host Nevada on Monday, Dec. 31st. The Ducks have reduced single-game tickets this season, and you’ll want to be at these games so you can brag “I was there when…” in the 2021 season!
Your first opportunity to see your Ducks comes this Friday, October 12th at Matt Court. The Ducks will make an appearance after the womens volleyball match, which starts at 6:00 pm. This is a great way to be entertained in showing your support for our Top 10 volleyball program, and see the Duck men for the first time this year. If you haven’t seen the volleyball team yet, you’ve denied yourself a great sporting experience. And let’s face it – you want to see the basketball team in person. Just give in to your preseason optimism and admit it.