Oregon men’s basketball coach Dana Altman has already reached milestones galore and is nearing Oregon history, but according to analytics, he is also one of the most clutch coaches in the nation in close games.
In games decided by less than 5 points, Altman has the tenth highest winning percentage in the nation during the KenPom Era. Also impressive, he’s coached 20 more close games than any other coach with a top 10 winning percentage.
As you can see, via this graph from Jordan Sperber, Altman’s name is on the top right corner, indicating his high winning percentage and his high volume of games decided by five points of fewer.
He is among an exclusive group of some of the best coaches in college basketball; Andy Toole, Bill Self, Jim Boeheim, Mark Few, Brad Stevens, Pat Flannery, Ed Cooley, Steve Fisher and Kelvin Sampson.
Notably, Altman tops Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who has the most career wins by any active coach, and nears the middle of number of close games and winning percentage.
The 2013 National Coach of the Year and three-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year entered the 2018-19 season just 25 wins shy of becoming the winningest head coach in Oregon history. Currently, the Ducks are 5-3 in conference play, edging Altman closer and closer to surpassing Ernie Kent's 235 program leading wins (1997-2010).
Will he get that crown during the 2018-19 season? It’s completely possible, as Oregon averages 26 season wins under Altman.
However, Altman will likely add to that already high volume of close games to get there. Oregon’s inexperience will be an obstacle; the young Ducks average 1.37 years of experience, which is 279th in the country.
Preseason, the Ducks were picked as favorites to win the Pac-12 Conference and ranked No. 14 in the country. After losses to No. 14 Houston, Iowa and Texas Southern, Oregon is no longer ranked in the Top 25.
Altman has his work cut out for him; developing his young and offensive-minded team won’t be easy. He has stressed the importance that Oregon improves on rebounding, defensive intensity and physicality. If he can lead Oregon’s arguably most talented team ever to success, he will top the record books. And if he wins in close games, he will continue to rise among the greats.
Side note, a few of Altman’s success and honors that might blow your mind a little:
- 34th head coach to record 600 career wins at the Division I level.
- In 2016-17, Altman led Oregon back to the Final Four for the first time in 78 years.
- Has won more games (215) in his first eight seasons than any coach in Oregon history.
- One of only six active coaches in NCAA Division I with 20 consecutive winning seasons.