When Dana Altman was hired in 2010 to be the new head coach at the University of Oregon he took over a program lacking depth, high-major talent, and a recruiting base. So to get Oregon at a level where they could compete with the rest of the Pac-12 Altman got creative in shaping his program.
In Altman’s four seasons as head coach the Ducks have had seven one-year transfers and signing 26 high school, junior college, and four-year college players in four recruiting classes.
Locally fans have complained about the constant shuffle of players, preventing them of latching onto a familiar face to root for. Nationally media and college coaches have complained about fifth-year transfers being more like free agency.
Altman doesn’t care because he’s worried about building the program.
Saturday night following Oregon’s 78-66 home win against the USC Trojans Altman was asked what fifth-year transfer Jason Calliste meant to the team. What the media in the room got was a very interesting answer from Altman on a wide range of subjects.
“I’ve taken some crap for taking fifth-year guys, I’ll tell you what, if you want to send me Jay-R Strowbridge, Arsalan [Kazemi], Olu [Ashaolu], Devoe [Joseph], Jason [Calliste] where would be without those five guys? When we started we had a lot of work to do. Jay-R Strowbridge, we would not have had a very good first year. We didn't have a great year, but we finished okay because of Jay-R being a big part of that. The next year, Devoe and Olu, we don’t go to the NIT and have a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament without those two guys. Arsalan last year, I mean, the problems we are having this year we would have had last year if we didn’t have Arsalan. So now with Jason and Mike, they’ve done a great job at the university, they’ve gone to class, they are great with our younger players, other than the fact that they are with us for one year they’ve represented our program and our university really well. So Jason has been so much fun to work with. He’s all about the team, he doesn’t start, Jay-R didn’t start, Olu didn’t start, these guys come in and don’t start and they just want to play and they appreciate everything Oregon has done for them. They have more appreciation for what our university, athletic department, [Oregon Athletic Director] Rob Mullens, what everybody does for them than some of our student athletes that come here right away and thinks everybody has it like this everywhere in America. Our academic building, our training facilities, heck we have a chef cooking for our guys, okay. Those guys understand what they got, the new guys, they come in here and think everybody’s got it. They expect it. It’s nice just nice to have guys come in and appreciate it, it’s nice to have guys appreciate what’s being done for them,
It’s a long answer but Jason Calliste is a fine young man, he’s done a great job, he’s all about the team, he’s represented Oregon basketball really well. All those guys. Again, I don’t think it’s something we are going to continue to do. I think we have some good young players in the program, but for where we were three years ago, four years ago, we’ve been able to compete at a decent level, not where we want to be because we want to be better, but at a decent level because of those guys.”
So while Dana Altman says the Ducks are likely done adding fifth-year transfers while he is the head coach at Oregon, he’s made it very clear Oregon and the expectations that have now fallen on the Ducks wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t in part due to those transfers help.
Altman than his press conference with a comment about the school’s appreciation night for booster Phil Knight and closed with a drop of the mic comment.
“...Well I didn’t see the bobble head, but I hope it looks good for him. That’s kind of a silly promotion, but it worked. Whatever. It worked, got people here. That’ll be a collector’s item I am sure people be saving that. Make sure the team doesn’t get any so we don’t put any on E-Bay and sell it. We have to make sure the team doesn’t get any.”
“That’s the first time I’ve laughed in a month, thanks!”