Saturday, April 24, 2010

Altman Flees the Bird Cage for the Duck Blind

After a month-long coaching search that seems almost Pederson-esque in it's length and futility, Oregon finally found a new basketball coach:  Creighton's Dana Altman.  Altman finally said yes after Missouri's Mike Anderson, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, and Butler's Brad Stevens all said no to the Nike money.

Of course, there is always the chance that Altman could change his mind again.  (Does Oregon make their coaches do duck calls?)

If this deal closes (and by all accounts, it has), what does it mean for Creighton hoops? Let's remember where Creighton basketball was prior to Dana Altman.  Under Rick Johnson, the Jays played in front of a 2/3rds empty Civic Auditorium.  (Wait a minute...isn't that the way Dana Altman left Creighton?) Nebraska basketball had taken the mindset of the local sports fan.  It wasn't until Nebraska basketball and UNO hockey hit the skids about eight years ago that Creighton reemerged from it's funk and captured the mindset of the Omaha sports market.  Interest exploded, and the team that averaged 5,000 fans a game started selling out the Qwest Center. All thanks to Altman and a team that regularly won the Missouri Valley Conference and secured the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Their highlight: Terrell Taylor's three pointer upsetting Florida in the 2002 NCAA tournament.

After the 2007 Arkansas scare, things never were the same for Altman at Creighton. 2 NIT berths and then a CIT bid led many BrieJay fans to turn on the coach that made Creighton basketball relevant locally, let alone nationally.

So where does Creighton go? If history repeats itself, Bruce Rasmussen will look once again for an unappreciated Big XII coach.  Altman wasn't Lon Krueger and wasn't appreciated in Manhattan, so he left Kansas State for Creighton in 1994.  Who fits that pattern?  Iowa State's Greg McDermott, who was successful at Northern Iowa previously. (H/T: CloneChronicles)

But the real question to me is... how does BrieJay fan react to this? They turned their back on the team during the CIT last month, leaving only the diehards to half-fill the Civic. Will they jump off the bandwagon?

My guess is that the BrieJay fan will stay on the bandwagon long enough to abscond with all the tickets to the NCAA basketball tournament in 2012.  After that...all bets are off. The pressure is on Bruce Rasmussen to hit another home run with his replacement hire.

1 comment:

BRM said...

It will be interesting to see what this will do to the over all sports scene in Omaha. If Creighton can score a Dean Blais like coach, then it might make for some exciting winters. I have to believe that that is not in the cards for the Briejays.
1. UNO has assets at a D1 Hockey level that could attract the coach.
2. UNO was in a real conference and was moving to a better one.

If CU was in the Big12 and was going to the Big 10, then I see a name coach coming, but to the Valley? I don't seen someone like Coach K worrying that his hot young assistant coaches are wanting to leave a marquee program and league to play in the Valley.