Ducks basketball coach Dana Altman took up coaching in his early 20s as a grad assistant. Now 54, he's in his third season with the Ducks and enjoying another terrific season.
It's been 33 years and they've all been good, said Altman, adding, I've enjoyed all the teams I've been associated with and you're very fortunate when your hobby is your job.
However, that doesn't mean it's not nerve wracking, especially the games.
I like going to practice every day, said Altman. The games are agony, trying to make sure you do the right things. The guys work so hard you don't want to take away from their performance at all. There's a very fine line there between letting them go and making sure we do things organized. The practices are much better than the games.
The Colorado game was a perfect example, with the Buffaloes scoring the final 8 points of the game to win by one in the final minute 48-47. The loss was the first for the Ducks at home in more than a year, snapping a 20-game winning streak in Eugene. It was the third longest in school history and only three shy of the record set from 1937-39 and matched in 2001-03.
Altman has 596 wins in 28 years as a head coach, averaging more than 20 per season. He already has 60 in his first 91 games as Oregon's coach.
Ducks radio play-by-plan announcer Jerry Allen has a bird's eye view of Altman at work, sitting right behind Oregon's coach during the games.
He teaches the entire ball game, Allen said. You don't hear him yelling at his players. You hear him teaching his players, Allen continued.
He's a different coach. He's a teacher unlike any I've been around.
In fact, ESPN conducted a recent poll ranking the best X's and O's coaches in college basketball and Altman ranked 7th best.
The Ducks started the season winning 18 of their first 20 games to crack the top 10 in the AP college basketball poll.
However, starting point guard Dominic Artis went down with a foot injury and since then Oregon is 1-3 with three straight losses.
We're going to be maybe a couple more games without Dominic, Altman told me, so Johnny (Johnathan Loyd) and Willie (Moore) are really going to have to step up. Our team will play hard. Eventually we'll get DA back and we'll change the way we play a little bit down the stretch and hopefully make a good run in the tournament.
The Pac-12 Tournament opens March 13th.