March Madness: Dana Altman MAKES Contenders

Darren Perkins Editorials 17 Comments

Whenever I watch a Portland Trail Blazer’s game, no matter who they are playing, I always know the Blazers have a chance because they have Damian “Dame Time” Lilliard. And when it comes to the Oregon Men’s Basketball Team, I know the Ducks always have a chance because of Coach Dana Altman.

In regards to the NCAA Tournament, when I say the Ducks always have a “chance,” I don’t necessarily mean that they have a legitimate chance to win it all (certainly not this year), but that they have a real opportunity to make a run and take Duck fans on a wild ride.

Altman has a way of getting his teams to peak at just the right time when hitting the home-stretch of the season. Perhaps no better example of this was the last time the Ducks played in the NCAA tournament in 2019. After a three-game skid and finding themselves with a lackluster 15-14 record with four regular-season games remaining, it seemed the Ducks had no chance to make it into the Big Dance.

But, Altman found the magic that laid within that team as they finished the season with ten straight victories, including a Pac-12 Tournament championship and a trip to the Sweet 16, where they finally lost to the eventual champion that year, Virginia.

Last year, the Ducks finished the Pac-12 season on a four-game winning streak while winning six of their final seven games. This positioned the Ducks as the top-seed in the Pac-12 Tournament before Covid-19 wiped away another potentially magical run. Does anyone doubt that Payton Pritchards final days in an Oregon uniform would have resulted in anything less than a Sweet-16 appearance?

Gary Breedlove

Dana Altman knows how to win.

Other Altman Highlights:

The 2012-13 team ended the regular season on a dud with two straight losses, but rebounded to win the Pac-12 Tournament and then advance to the Sweet 16. 

The 2013-14 team finished the regular season with seven straight wins plus a victory in the Pac-12 Tournament. 

The 2014-15 team finished the regular season with five straight wins before reaching the Pac-12 Tournament. 

The 2015-16 team finished the regular season with five straight wins, won the Pac-12 Tournament, and reached the Elite 8. 

Altman has taken the Ducks to the NCAA Tournament in eight (including 2020) of his eleven seasons in Eugene. Of the three years he did not, two were in his first two seasons as the program was rebuilding, while the third came from the roster depleted 2018 team a year after reaching the Final Four.

In Altman’s six previous trips to March Madness while at Oregon, the Ducks have had two Round-of-32 finishes, two Sweet 16’s, one Elite-Eight, and one Final Four.

And no first-round losses.

In his decade with the Ducks, Altman has increasingly raised expectations amongst Oregon fans to the point that reaching the Big Dance year in and year out is not enough, the Ducks need to win some games once they get there. Considering their potential matchup with what would be a heavily favored opponent (Iowa) in the second round, the Ducks likely won’t be picked by most to reach the Sweet 16, yet I just can’t help but think that they will.

After all, with Dana Altman, the Ducks always are a contender to make a big splash.

Darren Perkins
Spokane, Washington
Top photo credit: Gary Breedlove

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Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

My Friends … Sorry about all of this…

I would prefer having the forum instead of comments below articles–but it was not meant to be. So we make the best of it, and we did quite well with great discussions in the comments before. We can discuss anything in these threads, as we are not confined to the topic of the article.

On days like today where there is no new article–we can still discuss current events in Oregon Sports here. No sweat…

No matter what the format–I cannot help but want to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Whoa! The Softball team got behind twice, rallied to tie and then take lead and the win in the bottom of the 7th, 7-6! And they won the second game 3-0! One more game tomorrow…

And the baseball team wins their game against Arizona State 7-1 on superb pitching by Cullen Kafka!

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Pac-12 is 6-0!

Colorado beat Georgetown 96-73 today, and USC beat Drake 72-56 and the Bruins beat BYU 73-62!

During the baseball game I received a press release that announced that due to COVID protocol issues with VCU….the game with Oregon has been cancelled and Oregon moves on to play in the round of 32!

For a maligned basketball league….the Pac-12 has FIVE teams in the top 32. Pretty darn good.


How can you not want OSU to play OSU, both in orange and black, in the second round.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Wow. Oregon State led the majority of the game by double-digits and won by 14, 70-56 over Tennessee and the Pac-12 is now 2-0!

David Marsh

Unrelated but according to rivals Oregon has done the best job in developing quarterbacks.

Also… Sorry Charles if this doesn’t format correctly. I just got used to the way the forum worked.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

No sweat. I will have directions available later… :) And thanks for the link!


The problem with that analysis is it was done with data from before Cristobal took over. The only qb he really, fully had an impact on, was Shough.

I do agree, with Mariota and Herbert in the equation, no program is going to compete.

I give Cristobal a very good chance of continuing the trend, but he has to do something with all the talent he has on the bench at QB.

David Marsh

He did have two years of Cristobal as the head coach.

I would also like to make the main point from my article last week… Herbert was ready for the NFL because he took over and dominated in his first outing in week two.

Now, I do agree that Cristobal really needs to show off that he can provide Oregon’s next great quarterback from recruit to the draft. 2021 will be the real test as it will be the first fill off season.


I tend to think it comes down to nature or nurture with some of these qb’s. Herbert came to Oregon with a set of qualities few truly understood. A guy like Tom Brady was misunderstood, pretty much, until he won the Super Bowl.

It is my understanding there was an internal discussion, disagreement about how good Herbert was as a freshman. Should he start, play, or wait longer. That is going to be an interesting and important process this year, who will make the final decision? Will it be a groupthink process, where the great one just waits or transfers out?

I hope the staff can pick the next great Oregon qb from the group on the bench. Who is the guy who is worth just letting have a go at it, and learn, make mistakes, but has the ‘it’ to become great. That is what Oregon has been good at over the last decade.

I know this is soccer, but Messi, when going through the development stage, was told just to keep making mistakes. The staff saw, in him, the potential for greatness. They were rewarded when those mistakes became fewer, and the greatness took off.


The Pac-12 is 1-0 after UCLA beat Michigan State, 86-80 in OT, in a play-in game. It was unusual, as, in the first half, Michigan State scored 44, UCLA, 33. In the 2nd half, UCLA scored 44, Michigan State 33. In OT, UCLA outscored Michigan State, 9-3.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Great review Darren as I forgot all those years, and you are right; if it is March–then it is “Dana-Time.”

David Marsh

The Pac-12 Tournament was a major disappointment this year for the Ducks (both Men’s and Women’s teams). The men at least were playing pretty hot and then came to an abrupt stop against Oregon State, who they recently beat.

I’m hoping Altman does some adjustments to really get this team going. It would be great to see this Oregon team make the Sweet 16 but they are really going to need to be consistent to get there.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I don’t know….I will cheer for them to beat Tennessee!


I’ll cheer for any Pac-12 team as long as they’re not playing the Ducks :D