Dana Altman and the Rise of Oregon Basketball

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 8th, 2013

Four short years ago, the Oregon basketball program was nearly left for dead. Of the Ducks’ 12 losses to Pac-10 opponents, 11 of those came by double figures. There were also losses to teams like Portland and Montana, and while McArthur Court was still a classic, its age was starting to show in a bad way. In January of the 2009-10 season, the Oregon football team went to its first Rose Bowl in 14 years, and it felt like the hoops team was getting left behind in all of the athletic excitement.

Enter Dana Altman the very next season. Altman was hired after a lengthy search, one that reportedly had many many high profile targets turn down the job. The former Creighton head man made a splash immediately, sweeping the Civil War series with Oregon State, upsetting a top 20 Washington team, and making it to the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament. They didn’t stop there, though, and after pulling an invitation to the CBI to close the season, the Ducks beat Altman’s former team in the best of three championship series in thrilling fashion. Also, halfway through the year, Oregon unveiled its state of the art replacement to The Pit, the Matthew Knight Arena. While drawing criticism from most of the nation for its oddly-drawn floor art, Oregon fans, and more importantly recruits, were drawn to it.

Oregon's NBA-Like Arena Has Helped The Resurgence Of The Hoops Program (credit: Brian Feulner)

Oregon’s NBA-Like Arena Has Helped The Resurgence Of The Hoops Program (credit: Brian Feulner)

Over the last two seasons, Oregon has continued to gain momentum. It won 24 games in 2011-12, including road contests at Nebraska, Arizona, and Oregon State. That season concluded with a trip to the NIT, and the Ducks were bounced in an entertaining rivalry game at Washington in the quarterfinals. Behind key hustle players like E.J. Singler, Carlos Emory, and Arsalan Kazemi, Oregon continued its rise up the postseason ladder in the last year’s campaign. Compiling two streaks of five straight wins and one of eight consecutive victories, Altman’s squad put it all together in March, winning the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas and pulling back-to-back upsets as a #12 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The run ended against top overall seed and eventual national champion Louisville in the Sweet Sixteen.

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Oregon Post-Mortem

Posted by Connor Pelton on April 23rd, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Next on our list: Oregon.

What Went Right

Considering most Oregon fans hadn’t even heard of former Rice standout Arsalan Kazemi until less than a month before Midnight Madness, the last-minute addition of the Iranian Sensation did wonders for the Ducks’ play in 2012-13. The team clicked well with Kazemi on board as he added the final piece to an almost-complete puzzle. His hustle and ability to grab seemingly every loose ball on the court made him a quick fan favorite.

The Addition Of Arsalan Kazemi Was The Final Piece To Dana Altman's Puzzle In 2012-13 (credit: US Presswire)

The Addition Of Arsalan Kazemi Was The Final Piece To Dana Altman’s Puzzle In 2012-13 (credit: US Presswire)

What Went Wrong

Unspecified left foot injuries. Star point guard Dominic Artis went down with one before Oregon’s January 26 game against Washington, transforming thet Ducks from a 17-2 team to one struggling to find an identity upon his return on the final day of February. When all was said and done, however, Oregon ended up advancing to the Sweet Sixteen regardless of its lower seed, a product of the development of the team during his injury. Still, it would have been interesting to see how the Ducks performed in the dance if Artis had played all year long and Oregon was given a higher seed.


For what Kazemi lacked in clutch scoring, senior forward E.J. Singler made up for it. He was pivotal down the stretch in overtime at Washington State, leading the Ducks with 25 points, and his 14-point performance to hand Arizona its first loss of the season was gritty and much-needed.

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Pac-12 Weekly Five: 09.27.12

Posted by AMurawa on September 27th, 2012

  1. Yesterday we told you about Reggie Moore’s sudden dismissal from the Washington State program on the doorstep of the season, but Oregon has also had a bit of a shakeup on its roster over the past week. Dana Altman landed Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi this week as well as junior college transfer Waverly Austin, while saying goodbye to another JuCo transfer, Devon Branch, who had yet to actually put on an Oregon uniform. Of the three, the biggest news is the addition of Kazemi, the nation’s first Iranian-born Division I player, who also happens to be one of the most underrated players in the nation. In three years at Rice, he never finished lower than #37 in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage, taking second as a sophomore and third as a junior (according to KenPom.com). Kazemi will apply for a hardship waiver from the NCAA to become able to play this season, but if denied, he will play his senior year in 2013-14 in Eugene. If eligible for the Ducks this season, he should step immediately into the starting lineup, giving UO an imposing and experienced front line, made up perhaps of Tony Woods, E.J. Singler and Kazemi, three seniors. As for Austin, he’s a 6’11” center who averaged 14.8 points, 9.3 boards and almost three blocks per game last season at Palm Beach State College on his way to earning JuCo All-American honors. He originally committed to South Florida but was denied admission, although he has qualified by NCAA standards (it raises the question about whether USF really has higher standards than UO). It never hurts to have more size, and Austin could wind up having a major impact for the Ducks this season.
  2. The Ducks also landed a pair of intriguing ’13 recruits this week as well when they got commitments from twins Tyree and Tyrell Robinson. The pair of recruits from San Diego are, however, first and foremost football recruits who will play for Chip Kelly’s vaunted Oregon team. But once that season ends (given how good UO is, expect that to usually be in January sometime), the Robinsons will give up the helmet and shoulder pads for baggy shorts and tank tops. While both are expected to be serious contributors on the gridiron, their late arrival to the hardwood could limit their growth, but both players are talented. Tyree is the better of the two, a physical shooting guard who is great off the dribble and capable of knocking down the three, but neither of these guys should be considered elite basketball prospects. At best, they’ll likely be contributors off the bench for the Ducks.
  3. Elsewhere on the recruiting trail, California continues to work towards scoring a big 2013 class. With Jabari Bird and Jordan Matthews already in the fold, head coach Mike Montgomery is heavily involved with a number of other elite recruits, ranging from Aaron Gordon to Jabari Parker to Julius Randle and others. But for one recruit, the Golden Bears have reached finalist status. Marcus Lee, a 6’8” top 30 recruit from Cal’s backyard has narrowed his decision down to the Berkeley campus or John Calipari and Kentucky. But, as Rob Dauster points out, UK is already well on its way to a strong 2013 class of its own, so if Lee chooses Lexington, he could be in a dogfight for playing time. Let’s go ahead and pencil Lee in as a Golden Bear.
  4. Lastly, there was good news for UCLA fans reported last week by Adam Zagoria. According to a post on Zag’s Blog, he expects Kyle Anderson will be cleared to play by the NCAA. Anderson’s amateurism has been under investigation by the NCAA due to concerns over his relationship with agent Thad Foucher, but apparently the NCAA has been unable to find any evidence of improper benefits. That leaves classmate Shabazz Muhammad as the next big domino for UCLA head coach Ben Howland. Muhammad remains under investigation for financial benefits that he received from Benjamin Lincoln and Ken Kavanagh, two guys who Muhammad’s family claims as “family friends.” As of yet, there is no new information on the Muhammad investigation.
  5. So, after four weeks of college football, Connor holds a four-game lead over me in our prognostication battle. As we shift now to primarily conference battles the rest of the way, we’ll have fewer games to pick, but hopefully they’ll be, by and large, more competitive. Here’s our picks for this week, with our game of the week pick in bold:
Game Connor’s Pick Drew’s Pick
Stanford at Washington Stanford Washington
Arizona State at California California Arizona State
Oregon at Washington State Oregon Oregon
Oregon State at Arizona Oregon State 30-27 Arizona 27-24
UCLA at Colorado UCLA UCLA


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