Dana Altman is never going to be completely pleased with any of his teams because he knows them so well. He sees the potential and if the team falls a little flat like it did in the first half of the contest with Illinois then he’ll take those lessons and hone the Ducks even more. He said he was a bit disappointed in the first half, but you have to believe that in the second half he was very pleased, even if he didn’t come out and say so.
The game was an evenly matched contest and there were moments when it seemed like one team was going to take the momentum and make a run. There was a point around the 17:31 mark when Illinois’ Jon Ekey hit a 3-pointer making the score 42-37 Illini. Then it was 44-37 after Austin Colbert dunked the ball and the body language of the Illinois players seemed to say that they had this game under control.
Not so fast.
Joseph Young hit a jumper for Oregon cutting the Illinois’ lead to 44-39. Timeout called by John Groce, the Illinois headman. Illinois comes out the 30 second timeout and hit a jumper by Tracy Abrams, score 46-39 and the all heads back down court where Young attempts a 3-pointer but misses. Elgin Cook rebounded the ball and is fouled and Cook sinks both free throw shots. 46-41.
Illinois goes to the other end and Kendrick Nunn goes in for a layup and UI is up 48-41. Oregon ball, but Jason Calliste turns the ball over and fouls. When the ball is in bound, Illinois scores another layup by Rayvonte Rice, now it really looks like things are slipping away with score board reading 50-41.
A good coach in a situation like this calls timeout and that’s exactly what Altman did with the clock reading 13:05 left in the game. Ball in and Cook connects on a layup. Mike Moser then blocks a shot and pulls down the defensive rebound, down and down the court go the Ducks. Layup by Calliste, now it’s 50-45.
Hmm, good coaching, ya think?
Well, it went that way for another five minutes or so. It was a chess match between the two coaches. Play for a minute and call time out. Play for 30 seconds and call time out. Before long the game was tied at 54 with 7:02 left on the clock. When things seemed to get a little shaky, call a time out.
Altman initially didn’t think there were that many timeouts called, but then he started recalling the evens and yes, when they needed to regroup, the old coach settled them down, got back on focus.
Fast forward to 6:33 left in the game and score board reads Oregon 56, Illinois 54. Then it was a steal by Richard Amardi and Young follows up with another layup and the Ducks are up by four, 58-54.
Illinois didn’t give up though and with 3:33 left on the clock it is 59-58 and guess what Altman does?
Yep, that’s right, timeout.
From that point on, the Ducks go on to score 12 points and it and only two more timeouts called.
It was battles that lasted a minute.
When asked after the game, what was he saying to his team during all those timeout?
"We just needed to get some baskets,” was Altman’s response.
Finally the game clock showed 0:00 and Oregon wins 71-64.
Chip Kelly may have introduced the notion of Win the Day to Oregon football, but on Saturday night at the Moda Center in Portland, Dana Altman got his team to win the minute.