Dear Pat Kilkenny, stay out of the way and let Dana Altman do his job (video)

It just doesn’t stop. The Oregon Ducks PR circus, that is.

Pat Kilkenny and Co. made it well known that they set the bar at “won a NCAA championship”, quite the expectations for a program that couldn’t even crack a double digit win total in a pathetically weak Pac-10 the past two seasons.

So after six embarrassingly long weeks, Oregon settled — err, found the man they wanted all along.

Dana Altman. A man who’s never smelled the Sweet 16 or faced a Pac-10 team before in his life.

Umm, not quite on par with PK’s said expectations.

But of course, it doesn’t just end there. Kilkenny had to do his best to sell his new hire to a fan base who had been mistakenly promised (read: deceived) into anticipating a “splashy” hire.

Altman’s press conference went well. He was cordial, he was comedic, he was self-deprecating (in a good way) and he inspired confidence.

The fans were sold.

Sure, he might not be a sexy name, but he’s a solid coach who can take this program in the right direction. I might even name my next son Dana.

So Pat, why did you feel the need to inject yourself back into the picture? Ego, arrogance, attention? All of the above?

After Altman finished, the reporters, and their tape recorders, found their way over to Kilkenny.

Kilkenny said, “We had literally five natonal championship coaches that showed interest in our job and three of them would have taken it.”

Umm, then why didn’t you offer one the job?

The term he used, “national championship coach”, implies D-1 men’s basketball, but who knows what type of championship he really means? Maybe it’s D-1, but by the fact he didn’t hire any of them, it’s more likely to be D-3 or NAIA, or maybe it’s a middle school girls powerhouse.

Whatever the case, it undermines Dana Altman.

Come on, Pat. You hired Altman. He’s your man for the next 7 years and $12.6 million.

You’ve done your job, and we’ve talked ourselves into agreeing with you, so now stay out of the way and let Dana do his.

Advertisements

Oregon Ducks climb to No. 17 in college baseball polls

Baseball America loves the Oregon Ducks baseball team, and for good reason. After breaking into the polls for the first time in 30+ years at No. 18 last week, they’ve pushed up the Ducks another spot to No. 17.

Here’s what Aaron Fitt of BA had to say:

17. OREGON
Last Week: 4-1. Overall: 27-13, 8-7 in Pac-10 (6-4 vs. Top 25). Weekend Series: 6-3.

Oregon won its third straight weekend series and moved into a three-way tie for third place in the Pac-10. So. SS K.C. Serna (3-for-5, 2B, 4 RBI) led a 13-hit attack Friday in support of So. LHP Tyler Anderson (6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 K). Sr. RHP Justin La Tempa (6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) was strong in a no-decision Saturday, but USC won a back-and-forth affair with a run in the 10th against Oregon closer Drew Gagnier. Oregon took the lead for good on Fr. 3B J.J. Altobelli’s third-inning grand slam Sunday. It was Oregon’s first grand slam since the program was reinstated, and it was Altobelli’s first career homer.

Fans are quickly adjusting their expectations accordingly (whether or not they deserve to is an entirely different question). People were legitimately disappointed when Oregon lost on Saturday.

They may be in the cellar this year, but USC is still a baseball powerhouse, and last time I checked, Oregon was the new kid.

I like the attitude, though. It’s clear George Horton has this team confident and more than just “happy to be here”. This team is headed for big things — sooner than anyone expected.

Here are some pics from the Saturday game by the new official UOSportsDude.com photographer, Geoffrey Hale.

Starter Justin LaTempa was in line for the win after tossing six innings of one-run baseball, allowing six hits while fanning six, and leaving the game with a narrow 2-1 lead.

Sophomore KC Serna is blossoming into the star we thought he could be, leading the team in total bases and steals.

Friend of the photographer and USC left fielder Matt Foat, receives the standard Trojan mid-game prostate exam from the trainer. Look ma, no gloves!

Oregon plays Oregon State in the only baseball Civil War home game of the year, this Tuesday night at 6 pm. You better be there!

My thought process (with pictures) on the Dana Altman hire

After going with this approach for six weeks…

…Pat Kilkenny decided to change course — dramatically — and hire Creighton’s Dana Altman. My immediate impression?

WTF.

My sister’s name is Dana.

I didn’t even know who he was until I heard “Creighton coach.”

Now, after first finally figuring out where the hell Creighton is (not a good sign), reading the local writers discuss Altman’s need for a change of scenery, hearing the local Eugene writers on their high horses say “this is the type of coach Oregon should have been going after all along”, reading a poster on ATQ compare Altman to Bruce Pearl, and just about every other person with a keyboard desperately talk themselves off the ledge and into Altman simultaneously, I’m finally climbing on board.

It shouldn’t take that much to rationalize a hire.

I don’t think Phil Knight built Matthew Knight Arena to be the home of women’s volleyball.

On the bright side, no matter how Dana does here at Oregon, we’ll always have these girls to keep us entertained:

No matter how old we get, they always stay the same age.

http://images.video.msn.com/flash/customplayer/1_0/customplayer.swf

Oregon hoopsters transferring is the sign of the Apocalypse! No, not really…

Drew Wiley left for Boise State. Matt Humphrey decided to leave town. Josh Crittle said enough was enough and bolted, too.

So what does this mean?

PANIC!

Just kidding.

I really will miss Matt Humphrey, but he could have been so much better.

The way I see it, as much as I liked Humphs,  and as much I loved seeing Wiley run from three-point line to three-point line (read: sarcasm), this doesn’t hurt for next year, and it’s actually a good thing for the future.

If no one transferred, there would be 10 juniors next year. No wonder Ernie Kent was only successful once every 3-4 years (among other things).

Even worse, not a single one of those 10 players is an all-Pac 10 quality player. Sure, Oregon might finish eighth or ninth instead of dead last, but in the long run, who cares?

This team was still going to suck next year no matter what.

With a new coach coming in – one of these days, or years – it will be his job to clean house and get the players that fit his system, before the Ducks can start climbing the conference ranks.

Honestly, outside of the possible exception of Jamil Wilson, there’s not a single player on this team that’s a blue-chip quality player.

Michael Dunigan? No post-up game whatsoever, lacks competitive fire, and outside of an exciting block or two per game, not a difference maker. Averaging nine and five for a sophomore McDonald’s All-American just doesn’t cut it.

Lekendric Longmire? Shot 41.6% this year as a junior. Yuck. Teondre Williams disappeared in conference play. And sorry, Portland kids, Garrett Sim is just not good. I don’t care that he was a demigod at Sunset High School.

Jeremy Jacob, E.J. Singler and Malcolm Armstead are all role players on a good team.

George Schroeder of the R-G nailed it yesterday when he wrote that the new coach shouldn’t be burdened with high expectations right away.

Fortunately, three players left, so now the new coach will have a chance to possibly bring in a couple of his recruits this year, and if not, more next year, to start building his team.

(Quick side note: Girard High School (Philly) combo guard, and McDonald’s All-American nominated Torrell Candaleria wants to be a Duck and is without an offer. ESPN rated him an 80 out of 100. More on him to come later, but you can check him out here for now.)

Don’t think the new arena will bring success right away, because let me tell you, this team is going to flat out stink next year.

All you should care about, aside from enjoying Matt Court – it truly is amazing – are signs of improvement.

Which young guy will step up next year? Can they run a coherent offense and make a stop on D?

It will be the ultimate building year.

So no, losing Wiley, Humphrey and Crittle is not the end of the world. It’s not time to press the panic button. It doesn’t mean the athletic department is falling deeper into embarrassment.

The fat needed to be trimmed.

The cycle of having 10-player recruiting classes and then nothing every four years needed to end.

Hopefully Pat Kilkenny can get his guy soon (although, who he should get is an entirely different topic), find a couple of freshman – the Terrences‘? – and begin to turn this thing around this year. Go .500 the year after that and make the tournament in Year Three.

Baby steps.

That may soon more like giant steps, but in reality, Oregon has too many resources to stay in the cellar for long — just look at the baseball team.

Once Oregon can prove its headed in the right direction, it will pick up steam and be back in contention soon enough.

I promise.

(fine print: student-bloggers can not be help responsible for no such promises. if the team fails, it is entirely and utterly their fault.)

Follow me on Twitter: @UOSportsDude

Hey Oregon State: anything you can do, we can do better!

After 28 years since their last game, and 55 since their last College World Series appearance, the Oregon Ducks baseball team took the field February 20, 2009 at St. Mary’s in Moraga, Calif., marking the renaissance of the program.

Don't forget, this Friday night is Elvis Night against USC. Come dressed as Elvis and get free admission to the game. Seriously.

Despite stealing  away George Horton, one of the top coaches in the country, from Cal-State Fullerton, building a state of the art baseball stadium, reeling in the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, designing stylish new jerseys with the fight song stitched into the pinstripes (seriously), and oh yea, an endless supply of Phil Knight’s money, expectations were low.

And deservedly so.

It takes several seasons to build a competitive baseball team from scratch, especially in a conference that boasts at least five perennial national powers every year.

But Oregon isn’t your typical New To Division-1 Baseball program. When the Ducks do something, they like to do it big. You can call it grandiose, extravagance and even excessiveness, but whatever you want to call it, you have to admit that it works.

(The Ducks are forced to do something different – read: spend gobs of money –  to create a comparative advantage –  to the outrage of blue collar Beaver fans –  in a sport that’s meant to be played in the California or Florida sunshine.)

Predictably, Oregon faced a difficult first season. After a walk-off season-opening victory over defending champs Fresno State, the team fell a part. Inexperienced, overwhelmed and outmanned, the Ducks fell victim to Pac-10 play, finishing an unsightly 14-42.

Fortunately, Horton and the youngsters took every loss as a learning experience, and look where the Ducks are now.

They beat then-ranked No. 1 ranked Arizona State two weeks ago, were a 2-1 loss away from sweeping Stanford at Sunken Diamond, and again took two of three from No. 1 UCLA at Jackie Robinson Stadium this weekend.

Wow.

For those of you counting at home, that’s a 3-3 record against No. 1 ranked teams, two straight Pac-10 series victories, after not having won one for, oh, 30 years, and most importantly, are now ranked No. 18 in the country (according to Baseball America), and ahead of rival Oregon State, who dropped out of the poll after getting swept at home by Stanford.

SAY WHAT??

If I had told a Beaver fan in 2008 that the Ducks would be ahead of OSU in the polls after just one and half seasons of D-1 baseball, they would have been more incredulous than when the Ducks rolled into Reser Stadium in and won 65-38, crushing their Rose Bowl hopes in the process (sorry, this never  gets old).

Read more about the "Nike-ized" uni's here: http://bit.ly/bFE6lA

Yes, we are now better at the one thing you pride yourselves at being better than us at. At least for now. (Well, except studying gay sheep. I think you’ll always have the edge there.)

So what’s the difference to this year’s 23-12 record?

Another year under George Horton.

“I think last season, Coach Horton had a unique group, and he wasn’t real sure how to get on us. If he would get vocal and yell, some guys on the team would go into a shell. Then he would be a little too nice,” Oregon pitcher Tyler Anderson said to Rivals. “This year, it doesn’t really matter to anyone if someone goes into a shell. They’re going to let us know when we’re not doing things right. As a result, I think the team has responded in a big way so far this season.”

Uh, ya think?

Last season, the Ducks finished with a .227 batting average and a 5.07 ERA. This year? So far, a .276 team batting average and a 2.92 ERA, good for third in the country, ranking behind only UCLA and Texas.

So considering how this is only Year Two, how bright is Oregon’s future?

“We absolutely have an Omaha type of pitching staff [this year]. I’m not even sure I’ve ever been around a staff this deep in quality pitchers,” Horton said.

With that being said, Oregon, ranked in the top 20, is a prime contender for an NCAA regional.

Even if the Ducks stumble down the stretch, they will have accomplished more this year than anyone could have ever imagined. And they’ll only be deeper next year.

Which just goes to show how buying a top coach, state of the art facilities and cool jerseys can go a long way on the recruiting trail, and eventually, in the wins column.

I think Pat Kilkenny has taken notes, and is trying to employ this strategy with the basketball team. As it embarrassing as the situation may seem now, if he gets the right guy, things can turn around quickly.

And I think he will.

The opportunity to build a national power can be enticing. Just ask George Horton.

Forget Brad Stevens, he’s not coming to Oregon. How about Mike Anderson?

UPDATE: I guess I’ll give myself a half-hearted, mildly depressed “told you so”. Brad Stevens has reportedly turned down the Oregon job. Tweet from @TheBigLead: “Source: brad stevens rejected Oregon today. Not a $ thing- simply not interested. Ouch. Phil knight not a happy man.”

Jamie Dixon, Steve Alford, Tubby Smith and Mark Turgeon: All used the Oregon coaching vacancy as an opportunity to get more money from their current programs.

Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, Coack K: Seriously? Why even bother.

Mark Few: Forgetaboutit. He’s not coming.

The search for Ernie Kent’s replacement has taken more turns than Richard W. Lariviere’s stance on “openness”.

So good, they let him coach with his shoes off.

Now, it seems, we’re pinning our hopes on a 33-year-old who looks so young that a CBS commentator remarked “[Brad] Stevens looks like he checks the mirror every morning to see if it’s time to start shaving”.

There are certainly question marks about his experience –  only three years as a head coach, all in the Horizon League – but he’s done better than anyone could have ever asked for, taking Butler literally all but three inches away from a national championship.

He has a knack for winning, thanks to an unparalleled passion for the game of basketball. While in college, he took his future wife to a high school basketball game on their third date.

This, unfortunately, is why I can’t see him coming to Oregon.

He’s born and bred Indiana. When Brad was five, he watched taped basketball games before he went to afternoon kindergarten. At seven, his dad started driving him to Indiana Hoosier games.

He was so dedicated to the game that he would bring the unprepared ingredients for grilled cheese sandwiches over to his friend Brandon’s house, so as to not waste time waiting for sandwiches to cook.

So you think that guy is going to pack up his family and leave Indiana, the place he’s lived his entire life, for Oregon, a place with relatively zero basketball tradition?

Not a chance.

More money, better facilities and flashier uniforms await him in Eugene, to be sure, but that’s not what Stevens is about. He’s about the tradition.

Stevens could build an empire at Butler, akin to what our neighbor Mark Few has done next door at Gonzaga, and I think there’s a good chance that happens. But if he leaves, it won’t be for Oregon. It will be for a school where basketball is first; where it’s more than a game, it’s a way of life.

I could see him taking the Wake Forest job for exactly those reasons.

So now that I’ve poopoo’d all your excitement about the latest wunderkind, I’ll make up for it by suggesting another name. One that didn’t take me long to talk myself into and now I’m starting to love.

Mike Anderson.

If we could get him to leave Mizzou, I think he’d be a perfect fit.

He’s won everywhere he’s gone.

At University of Alabama-Birmingham, he took the Blazers to three NCAA tournament appearances in his four years, including a 76-75 upset over #1 seeded Kentucky to get to the Sweet 16, and he was named Conference USA Coach of the Year in 2004 (over John Calipari at Memphis).

Anderson was then hired by Missouri in 2006, a once-proud program that Quinn Snyder trashed and left for the NCAA sanctioning-wolves.

After a middling first two seasons, Anderson led the Tigers to the Elite Eight in 2009 and the second round in this year’s tournament.

He runs an up-tempo, aggressive style of play that would be able to take advantages of the athletes Oregon has in a way other candidates wouldn’t.

That's the type of badass nickname I could get behind.

Dubbed “40 Minutes of Hell”, Anderson’s style would be perfect for the type of players that Oregon can recruit (those who would make the most of the Ducks’ supreme practice/workout facilities) and also, he’d be going after a different kind of recruit than most of his opponents on the West Coast – advantage Oregon.

He even has strong moral standards, booting two of Mizzou’s star players, leading scorer Stefhon Hannah and Kalen Grimes, from the team after a night club fracas (Hannah) and being arrested for hitting a man with the butt of a shotgun (Grimes).

John Canzano would be proud.

At 50 years old, he’s relatively young, proven and more than capable of making Oregon an immediate contender.

Only problem is, can Pat Kilkenny/Spencer Stuart/whoever’s running the athletic department, convince him to leave the Tigers, where he just signed a 7-year extension at $1.6 million per? (turning down a $2 million offer from Georgia in the process)

Anderson has never coached outside of the South before, but I think an opportunity to become King of the West Coast could be attractive enough for the Alabama native to leave his roots.

Plus, wouldn’t it be awesome to watch E.J. Singler scrambling around like a beheaded chicken on the full-court press?

That’s enough of a reason to hire Anderson right there.

I’m sold.

And in case you forgot the Missouri-Oregon game this year, here you go.

Come check out the UO World Cup this afternoon and support UO’s Warsaw Sports Business Club

It may be too late to make the first day of the UO World Cup, but there is still plenty of fun to be had this afternoon.

There are games scheduled throughout the afternoon at the UO turf fields (next to the Student Rec Center), concluding with the championship game at 4 PM.

Among the highly competitive teams competing are the UO Men’s club team, UO Women’s club team, OSU Women, and Portland State.

In addition to tournament play, there will also be an interactive fan zone on Sunday. The Portland Timbers, EA Sports, Muscle Milk, Kick City, Monster and KWVA Campus Radio will be represented. There will be a juggling contest, EA Sports FIFA ’10 videogame tournament, and various product giveaways.

Adidas is the title sponsor supplying Jabulani soccer balls and tournament t-shirts.

The UO World Cup is one of the two entirely student-run events the Warsaw Sports Business Club puts on annually (the other being the Warsaw Classic).

It’s a great opportunity for students to work in a real-world sports business atmosphere: finding sponsorship, fielding teams, getting access to the field and learning how to react on the tournament days when a sponsor decides to no-show and leave the entire crowd hungry for lunch (yes, this happened).

The club always does a great job with this tournament, so be sure to come out and support them, watch some soccer, and win some great prizes.

Get outside and enjoy the sunshine (err, no rain) while it lasts!

What does Masoli’s future look like if he (or would have, hoax?) suits up for the Ems?

UPDATE: We have been victims of a taken-too-far April Fool’s Day prank. Floating a rumor is one thing, but writing a press release is beyond ethical. Masoli is not going to pitch for the Ems, as local news stations are saying the rumor is officially false.


Jeremiah Masoli is going to pitch for the Eugene Emeralds this season. Say what? Huh? April Fools?

Curious timing, certainly. But alas, we’re 12 hours into the famed prank day and all three local TV stations are still sticking with the story (although KEZI9 just pulled the story from it’s website).

Who knows, maybe Masoli is the next Walter Johnson?

This may sound like a cute way for Masoli to entertain himself during a redshirt year without football games, but I think the would-be Heisman contender is making a huge mistake.

First of all, Masoli has no professional future in baseball. He has very little baseball experience, not having played since his freshman year at Serra High School in San Mateo, California.

Second of all, why risk what minor chance he has in the NFL, or slightly larger in Canada?

The most important thing I read into this is that, if true, Chip Kelly is ok with it. More specifically, he isn’t too worried about Masoli’s arm for the 2011 season.

The redshirt junior’s choice to stay still makes me feel a little weird. Sure, he’s a great college quarterback (and please don’t trash his abilities now just because he betrayed us), but after sitting for an entire season during a year where the stars seem aligned (well they did 2 months ago), it would be beyond awkward to put Masoli back on the field.

Especially if the talented sophomore Darron Thomas wins the job and lives up to the hype.

What would Chip do, bench his now-star junior quarterback in favor of a senior who hasn’t played in game for over a year?

I just can’t see it.

If Masoli really wants to play professional football, and I’m guessing he does and wants to stick at quarterback, then he shouldn’t be fooling around on the baseball diamond.

He should focus on fixing his image, straightening himself out (ya know, in case this football thing doesn’t work out), and then dedicate himself to being the best quarterback he can be.

He could make a decent living playing north of the border, and with some luck, could give Tim Tebow a run for his money as the next dual-threat QB in the NFL.

Please Jeremiah, I know baseball might sound fun and be a good way to get some attention, (as well as help sell tickets for the Ems, who happen to play in P.K. Park. Athletic Department: Cha Ching), but think about your future.

Although I guess Chip Kelly has too, and he doesn’t see Masoli in it.