Oregon Ducks

Official: Oregon announces contract extension for Altman

Official: Oregon announces contract extension for Altman

EUGENE, Ore. – University of Oregon Director of Athletics Rob Mullens announced today that the UO has agreed to terms and is finalizing a contract extension with head men’s basketball coach Dana Altman, pending Board of Trustees approval. The agreement runs through the 2025-26 season and is funded from athletic sources.

“Dana and Reva Altman are an important part of our community, and we are thrilled at the opportunity to continue to build on the tremendous success we have had over Dana’s nine years as the head coach at Oregon,” said Mullens. “We are thankful for Dana’s commitment to the Ducks, and we look forward to the continued strong performance of our men’s basketball program as well as Dana assuming his rightful place in the Hall of Fame in the future.”

Altman, the 2013 National Coach of the Year and a three-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, joined Jim Boeheim, Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski, Bill Self, and Roy Williams as the only six active head coaches in Division I with a current streak of at least 22 consecutive winning seasons. In his nine seasons as the head coach of the Ducks, Altman has an overall record of 230-95 (.708) and is six wins away from become the Ducks’ all-time winningest head basketball coach. 

“I am very, very grateful to President Schill, Rob Mullens, and the University of Oregon for their support and for the faith they have shown in me here,” said Altman. “I work for special people at a special place in front of special fans, and I look forward to coaching here for many years to come.”

The Ducks have achieved remarkable success under Altman, advancing to the 2017 Final Four, two Elite Eights (2016, 2017), and three Sweet 16s (2013, 2016, 2017) while also winning two Pac-12 championships. Oregon has nine consecutive 20-win seasons under Altman and is one of only 11 programs nationally with an active streak of nine-plus 20-win campaigns (Belmont, Cincinnati, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, Saint Mary’s, and Vermont).

Oregon also has posted nine consecutive winning seasons under Altman, the first time in UO history this has occurred since the 1923-32 campaigns. The Ducks have won 100 games in a four-season span only five times in program history, all of which have happened under Altman in each of the last five consecutive four-year spans (2012-15, 2013-16, 2014-17, 2015-18, 2016-19). Additionally, Altman’s Oregon squads are 159-19 when holding opponents under 70 points, including a 124-11 mark the last six seasons.

During the nine-year Altman era with the Ducks, coaching staff consistency has been a hallmark. Only one assistant coach has left Oregon during that span, when assistant coach Brian Fish accepted the head coaching job at Montana State and we replaced by current assistant Michael Mennenga. The Ducks have also signed top-flight recruiting classes under Altman, as the incoming class signed last November represents the fourth consecutive top 12 and the second consecutive top 10 class for the Ducks.

Altman’s Oregon clubs have also improved as the season progresses, as the Ducks have a 57-24 (.703) during the second half of Pac-12 play, the most wins of any league team in the second half over the last nine seasons. Altman arrived at UO following 16 seasons at Creighton, where he became the school’s career leader in victories with a record of 327-176 (.650). He led the Blue Jays to 13 consecutive postseason appearances, a streak of 11 consecutive 20-win seasons, and 10-plus league wins in 14 consecutive seasons. These three feats were unmatched in the 103-year history of the Missouri Valley Conference.

 

No. 6 Oregon in excellent position in CFB Playoff Poll: Patience is required

No. 6 Oregon in excellent position in CFB Playoff Poll: Patience is required

The College Football Playoff committee released its second rankings and Oregon jumped from No. 7 to No. 6.

The Ducks (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) were idle this weekend but moved up one spot to No. 6 in the Coaches Poll and Associated Press Poll because of shakeups in the college football landscape. This jump generated anticipation that the same would hold true in the rankings that matter: the CFB Playoff rankings. Those hopes were realized.

After Alabama’s loss to No. 1 LSU the Crimson Tide dropped to No. 5. Then, Minnesota rose to No. 8 after upsetting Penn State (who fell to No. 9). That created space for Oregon to grab the No. 6 spot.

It’s important to remember that today’s rankings are largely for entertainment value, considering how much football is yet to be played. While they do set the tone, the important playoff rankings will be released in a month. I’ve already detailed why Oregon’s current spot doesn’t matter.

It’s going to take patience for Oregon to break into the top four spots. A Duck win this Saturday vs. Arizona would clinch their third North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship. But that won’t be enough to move the needle. Neither will victories over Arizona State or Oregon State.

The streaking Ducks can make a real case on December 6th in Levi’s Stadium. A Pac-12 Title and a win over a high ranked Utah team would be the resume piece to make it interesting on the committee. Utah is currently ranked No. 7 in the CFB Playoff Poll.

The first three playoff spots seem likely concrete: the SEC champion, the Big Ten champion and a 13–0 Clemson winning the Atlantic Coast Conference. The fourth spot? A Pac-12 champion Oregon team with a 12-1 record and a “good loss” to No. 12 Auburn, would certainly get a good shot.

The CFB Playoff committee’s protocol is mostly based on eye test and places an emphasis on four things if teams are comparable: 1. Championships won. 2. Strength of schedule. 3. Head-to-head competition (if it occurred). 4. Outcomes against common opponents.

My advice? Cheer for the Ducks to win out and ignore these rankings until Selection Sunday on December, 8th. Patience is a virtue.

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Sabrina Ionescu jerseys are here but already sold out

The magic number for Oregon vs. Arizona

The magic number for Oregon vs. Arizona

Oregon (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) is on track to the Pac-12 Conference Title game and in the running as a College Football Playoff contender. The Ducks have three conference games left and Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) is the next opponent they must beat. The Ducks are coming off a bye with a lot on line… Here are 10 numbers you need to know about the 7:30 p.m. kickoff in Autzen Stadium.

CROWN ON THE LINE

A Duck win against the Wildcats in the Pac-12-After-Dark game would clinch the North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 championship. It would be Oregon’s third Pac-12 North crown.

AMONG THE NATION’S ELITE

Oregon is one of five FBS teams (Baylor, Clemson, Minnesota, Ohio State) off to a 6-0 start in conference play. 

BETTING LINE

Oregon opened as 26.5 point favorites over Arizona, which marks the Ducks’ sixth straight home game as a double-digit favorite.

BALL HAWKS

Oregon leads the nation with 17 interceptions, which is the program's most through nine games since 1988. The Ducks' 11.78 points off turnovers per game ranks second in the country and is a major contributing factor in the Ducks’ eight-game winning streak. Jevon Holland and Verone McKinley III each have four picks, leading the team. Eleven different Ducks have recorded an interception.

DON’T MESS WITH HOLLAND

Holland, a sophomore, leads active Pac-12 players in career interceptions with nine. The Jim Thorpe semifinalist is tied for the most career interceptions among sophomores in the nation.

UPSET HISTORY

Arizona has beaten Oregon each of the past three matchups where the Wildcats enter unranked and the Ducks enter ranked. The Wildcats topped No. 19 Oregon, 44-15 last year that featured Arizona running back J.J. Taylor rushing for 212 yards and two scores.

THE MAGIC NUMBER, 40

In the last 12 games between Oregon and Arizona, the Ducks are 7-0 when scoring more than 40 points per game and 0-5 when scoring less than 40.

GOOD INJURY UPDATE

Oregon’s top two running backs, backs CJ Verdell (groin) and Cyrus Habibi-Likio (quad) are expected to play against Arizona. Starting right guard Dallas Warmack (hip flexor) is also good to go.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE TAYLOR

Arizona’s rushing attack ranks second in the Pac-12, led by JJ Taylor who is ninth in the Pac-12 in rushing with 566 yards. The Wildcats’ total offense (495.8 yards per game) ranks 12th in the country and second in the conference.

EXPLOSION PLAY ALERT

Arizona has had five plays go for 70 or more yards this season. Across the country, only Oklahoma State, Alabama, Colorado State and UCF have more.

MORE DUCKS

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Sabrina Ionescu jerseys are here but already sold out

Sabrina Ionescu jerseys are here but already sold out

Sabrina Ionescu jerseys are here but already sold out

Oregon senior superstar Sabrina Ionescu is tearing up the record books and becoming a household name. Fresh off a Final Four run, Ionescu and the top-ranked Oregon women’s basketball team have their sights on winning it all this season and earning the program’s first national title. And now, Ducks fans can represent the “Triple-Double Queen.”

Well, once the number 20 jerseys are back in stock, that is.

On Monday afternoon, the Oregon Duck store released a “White Nike Replica Oregon #20 Basketball Jersey” for $75. As of Tuesday morning, the jerseys are sold out in every size. No word on when an official re-stock may happen.

Nike will begin to sell a number 20 Oregon college replica jersey in apple green later in the basketball season. The Duck store will also carry it.

The chance for Oregon fans to purchase the replica jerseys is a long time coming. Ionescu has made her opinion known on social media and fans began a petition to Nike in April.

Ionescu’s support worked and the female star tweeted her gratification.

Oregon’s next game is at home versus Utah State on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Memphis bringing a big-time player and a big controversy to the PKI

Memphis bringing a big-time player and a big controversy to the PKI

The PK Invitational is going to feature an entire level of intrigue that nobody could have seen coming when it unfolds Tuesday night in Moda Center.

The University of Memphis is coming to Portland to meet the Ducks in the 6 p.m. opening game and Oregon State takes on Oklahoma in the 8 o’clock nightcap of the doubleheader.

And Memphis is bringing a very big controversy and a big-time player who will likely be in uniform for the Tigers against the Ducks – one of the top prospects in the country, James Wiseman, a 7-1, 240-pound freshman center.

Wiseman has a group of sharp lawyers on his side and the University of Memphis, too, after the NCAA had declared him ineligible for accepting money from a Memphis booster.

And that booster? It was current Memphis coach and former NBA all-star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.

Stay with me here, because this is a tangled web that seems to be what holds college basketball together these days. Hardaway was the head coach at Memphis East High School, where he won two Tennessee state championships. As you may guess, Hardaway was also an AAU coach in the summer, where he presumably met Wiseman. After Wiseman’s junior year of high school in Nashville, Hardaway reportedly provided $11,500 to Wiseman’s mother for moving expenses, so that her son could play for Hardaway in Memphis.

Hardaway had no connection to the university – except he had made a $1 million donation to the school’s athletic department in 2008. Which, in the eyes of the NCAA, classifies him as a booster of the school. Which means he can’t be handing money out to the mother of a recruit.

The NCAA made its ruling and the university launched its own investigation alongside the one by the NCAA. And the school disagrees with the proposition that Hardaway was a “booster” and believes the player to be eligible. They suited him up for a game last week and he was spotted boarding the team plane for Portland Sunday night. A couple of local Memphis lawyers have signed on to get the case into court and that is supposed to happen next week.

In the meantime, all of college basketball will be watching the Ducks and Tigers – and Wiseman – Tuesday night in Portland, wondering if the kid will end up causing forfeits of any games the Tigers win or leads them to great heights as the No. 1 recruit in the country and the leader of the top recruiting class this season.

The Ducks are undefeated at 2-0 and trying to establish themselves as a tournament threat again.

In the second game Tuesday in the tournament that honors Nike founder Phil Knight, the Beavers and Sooners will also try to get a good jump on what they believe will be promising seasons.

Mario Cristobal’s ear catching comments on expanding Mykael Wright’s role

Mario Cristobal’s ear catching comments on expanding Mykael Wright’s role

Oregon true freshman Mykael Wright has earned the nickname “silent assassin” from his teammates. His quiet demeanor, number two jersey and superstar type skills draw the comparison to NBA star Kawhi Leonard. The cornerback lived up to that label in the No. 7 Ducks’ win over USC when he killed USC's momentum and returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown with 20 seconds remaining in the first half.

The speedy freshman had only regularly began working as a kick returner earlier that week. However, Oregon coach Mario Cristobal was not shocked when Wright completely transformed the energy of the game. The top-ranked cornerback in the nation (ESPN, 2019) returned punts in high school and provided tape highlights, which Cristobal often refers to. Cristobal instantly noticed Wright’s natural instincts as a returner.

“Naturally, when the ball is in the air, he knows how to get to it,” Cristobal said. "He knows how to handle receivers and handle guys who show late hands. When he’s had the ball in his hands in practice when he gets a pick or something of that nature, he just has a natural feel for following his blockers or setting up his blocks.”

His versatility has provided a solid foundation and a major strength for Oregon. During his two seasons at Valencia high school in California, Wright had nine interceptions and 25 tackles on defense. On offense, he picked up 1,986 receiving yards in addition to 26 touchdowns.

Entering this season, junior starting cornerback Thomas Graham Jr. tabbed Wright as a future freshman All-American. Now, Cristobal is game planning an increased role for Wright.

“Without question, he’s an electrifying player back there,” Cristobal said. “I think the more he does it, the better and better he’ll get. We don’t want to extend him too much because he’s got a lot going on with special teams and playing corner for us, but his role on teams is going to expand.”

The natural playmaker’s next opportunity will come this Saturday night, as Oregon looks to beat Arizona to officially punch its ticket to the Pac-12 Conference title game.

Three notable changes to Oregon’s depth chart ahead of Arizona

Three notable changes to Oregon’s depth chart ahead of Arizona

No. 7 Oregon has the opportunity to clinch its third Pac-12 North Division title and a spot in the Pac-12 Championship with a win over Arizona (4-5, 2-4 Pac-12) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Autzen Stadium.

Oregon (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) will look to avenge last season’s loss at Arizona and extend this season’s undefeated streak in conference play and at home (5-0).

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal released the depth chart ahead of the game and there are three notable changes:

1. Graduate-transfer Juwan Johnson is co-starter with redshirt freshman Bryan Addison at “Z” wide receiver position. Expect an increased role for Johnson after back-to-back clutch performances.

“Coming off some injuries, Juwan is a guy that I knew would step up big,” quarterback Justin Herbert said after Oregon’s win at USC. “I don’t think the public has seen his best yet. We knew all along he would be a special player.”

2. At tight end, true freshman Patrick Herbert is listed as co-backup (with Spencer Webb) to senior Ryan Bay. Patrick Herbert has played in two games this season but has yet to catch a pass.

3. Junior Brady Breeze will start at boundary safety. Junior Nick Pickett was called for targeting in the second half against USC and will be out for the first half against Arizona. Regardless of Pickett's status, Breeze "has certainly earned the right to be on the field more," Cristobal said.

MORE ON THE DUCKS

“It won’t be tolerated here” Mario Cristobal is handling Oregon’s uncharacteristic penalty problem

Oregonian Brady Breeze earning title as a momentum changer

Mario Cristobal calls his mom directly after every game: 10 things you don't know about the Oregon coach

Sue Bird: Sabrina's got the "stuff" you can't teach

Sue Bird: Sabrina's got the "stuff" you can't teach

“Ducks Nation — I’ll see you next year. Let’s see some packed houses. Kobe — I’ll see you next year, too. Hope you keep watching. And WNBA — I’ll see you soon. Real soon, I promise. Just have some business to take care of first.”

This was the message to Duck fans 218 days ago from Sabrina Ionescu.

The basketball phenom decided to forgo the 2019 WNBA Draft (as the projected No. 1 overall pick) and return to Oregon for her senior year.

That unfinished business? Perhaps a redemption tour all the way to the NCAA National Championship after a heartbreaking loss in the Final Four last year. But let’s not get too far ahead. 

It all started last night when the Ducks defeated Team USA 93-86 in an exhibition game at Matthew Knight Arena. 

Ionescu dropped 30 points, seven assists and four rebounds over the best in the world. In what felt like a ceremonial passing of the torch from “GOATS” Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi to the next generation of talent, Ionescu absolutely balled out in the spotlight.

From one G.O.A.T. to the next:

“My favorite part about her game right now is just her competitiveness,” said Bird on Ionescu. “She’s very relentless. Even when you think you have her stopped, she keeps coming at you. Those are things you can’t always teach. So as the year goes on, people are going to talk about ‘Can she shoot? Can she do this? Is she good enough for that?’ Who cares. If you’re competitive, that can overcome a lot. And for her, you can’t teach those things and she’s got them.”

High praise for Ionescu coming from one of the very best to ever play the game.

Ionescu and the Ducks have a big season ahead. A preseason No. 1 ranking, a roster loaded with talent from top to bottom, an established fan base and basketball culture in Eugene, and of course, a competitive nature.

The WNBA is waiting. The sponsors will come. A potential shoe deal? Why not! We all know just how dominant Ionescu is and a professional career will begin in due time. 

But for now, enjoy the ride.

“All that stuff will be waiting for her. It’s going to come eventually. She needs to just enjoy this ride,” said Bird. “She’s going to want to finish it right. Speaking from someone who won their senior year (UConn, 2001-02), there’s no better feeling than walking off the court a winner. You literally leave with no regrets. Hopefully she has that mindset.”

Oh, we think she does.

Diana Taurasi’s message to Oregon: Stay mad

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NBCSNW

Diana Taurasi’s message to Oregon: Stay mad

EUGENE, OR - It was a night showing off the world’s best vs. the nation’s best. Team USA vs. No. 1 Oregon women’s basketball and it did not disappoint.

In front of an 11,000+ crowd in Matthew Knight Arena, the best of the best was on full display in Team USA’s final stop of their training camp tour. 

In what many, including the Oregon players themselves, thought would be a competitive game but with USA eventually pulling away in the end quickly turned into a “what did we all just witness?” type of feel.

“I mean, we came into the game thinking we have a shot at this… yeah, we’re good but we’re staying humble about it and we know we’re not just going to come out there and beat them by 20,” said junior Satou Sabally following the game. “But I think every team has to go into every game very confident.”

“I think before the game and the week leading up to it, watching the other games, we knew they were the best team in the world, the best players in the world, so we were just going to try and stay within 20,” said senior Sabrina Ionescu, who recorded 30 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

Confidence plus talent would do just that and more.

The Ducks went onto victory over Team USA, 93-86.

“As the game continued to go on, we kind of forgot who they were and what the expectations were of them beating us and we were just trying to play our game and play it to perfection,” Ionescu added.

This win wasn’t just like any other, even though it was over the best in the game. No, it all started with a mindset courtesy of Diana Taurasi, the 37-year-old basketball phenom with a killer bun. Before the game, the two teams had the opportunity to meet one another. During this time, Taurasi gave a little piece of advice to the No. 1 team in the nation: Stay mad.

Without knowing the exact context to what experience Taurasi was referencing, one can assume that the Ducks haven’t stopped thinking about last season. A first ever Final Four appearance that ended in a heartbreaking 72-67 loss to Baylor (who would go on to win the National Championship). The Ducks now enter the 2019-2020 season with a chip on their shoulder and a target on their back.

With a mindset of staying mad, drowning out the accolades or the rankings and the talent on the roster, this team is dangerous and it all started tonight.

Podcast: Oregon reaping the benefits of Justin Herbert, Troy Dye returning for senior seasons

Podcast: Oregon reaping the benefits of Justin Herbert, Troy Dye returning for senior seasons

Remember when Justin Herbert gave Duck fans the best Christmas present of them all? On December 26, 2018, Herbert announced he would forgo the 2019 NFL Draft and return to Oregon for his senior season.

On January 10, the good news kept coming: Linebacker Troy Dye would also return to Oregon for his senior season.

What a difference it has been for Oregon (8-1, 6-0 Pac-12) this season to have these two on the field.

Justin Herbert didn’t look like himself in the first quarter vs. USC last Saturday, but then went on a reign of terror over the Trojans to finish the game. You can’t get over that mental bump without experience, and Herbert has four years of it. The offense couldn’t get it together in weeks one and two of Pac-12 play, putting up just 21 points over Stanford and 17 on California, but now have found their groove.

The defense allowed just 25 points through five games before giving up 31 points to Washington, 35 to Washington State and 24 to USC. Those are a lot of points given up to good offenses, but the defense found a way to get it done. 

Talkin’ Ducks host Jordan Kent said on the latest Talkin’ Ducks Podcast:

“I look at what this Oregon team has done, and don’t forget you had Troy Dye and Justin Herbert come back for their senior seasons because they felt there was unfinished business, and the issue with the team last year was you got to the second half of the season and this team wilted. You got to the second half of games and this team would wilt. That’s not the case this year.”

The Ducks are reaping the benefits of having the senior leadership of Herbert and Dye out on the field. Their leadership and talent (duh) is helping Oregon finish games: Herbert’s final minute drive to set up the game-winning field goal vs. Washington State and the defense coming up huge vs. Washington stopping a fourth down conversion.

In the last eight games, Oregon has outscored its opponents 170-41 in the second half.

Last season, the Ducks struggled on the road: A 14-point loss at Washington State followed by a blowout loss at Arizona, and then a one-touchdown loss at Utah. Take a breath. This season is a different story. A 3-0 record on the road with big wins in front of hostile crowds: Washington and USC. 

And with just three conference games remaining, the Ducks must take care of business as their hopes and dreams of a College Football Playoff are slim, but exist.

Listen to the full Talkin’ Ducks Podcast below: