— Oregon Ducks players and coaches are excited about the upcoming season, even if they’re not ready to admit it yet.
In a year in which many of the Pac 12’s most decorated teams are struggling to stay relevant and contend, the Ducks are trying to find a way to win more games.
They’re trying to win some.
But it’s not the way they did it last season, when they missed the NCAA tournament for the third straight year.
Oregon hasn’t lost a game in conference play since losing in the first round to Texas A&M in the Elite Eight.
The Ducks, who have won three of the past four NCAA tournaments, are looking for a seventh straight Pac-10 championship.
Coach Dana Altman is determined to win another.
He’s trying to build a more cohesive team, a more dynamic one.
That’s why Altman recently took a break from basketball.
Altman was fired at USC after a 3-6 start in 2014, and he said the decision was driven by the loss of the NCAA Tournament and a lack of success at the college level.
Altmer’s team lost four games in a row in 2015, and Altman was hired after the season.
But after a 2-13 start to the 2016-17 season, the Trojans reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in seven years.
Altman has tried to build the team to compete with the elite in the Big Ten, but that has been harder than expected.
In 2016-19, the Oregon men won seven games, the Pac 10’s best total since the 1960s.
But Altman’s team played without top-ranked forward Jake Fisher, who tore his ACL last month.
Altmer has taken on more responsibility on offense and has given up a higher percentage of assists than his predecessors.
Altmen says he has to do more of that because he’s dealing with injuries and a slow offense.
Altmeber says the Ducks have to do it more often, to win, to be better.
The Pac-8 is the conference that Altman wanted to be a part of.
But that’s not what happened, he said.
It’s just the reality of a league that is so different.
There are two different reasons Altman made the decision to take a leave of absence, he says.
First, Altman didn’t want to miss the NCAA basketball tournament.
Second, Altmer said he needed to spend more time with his wife, who is expecting their first child.
The Cougars won only six games this season.
Altmen was fired after the USC game.
He did not return a call seeking comment.
Coach Jim Mora says Altman doesn’t take much time off.
He says Altmer spends his time with the team and helping them develop.
The Pac-7 is a smaller conference.
Altmann was on the Pac 8’s championship team in 2013.
He’s also taking on more responsibilities as a head coach.
Altmand’s team went to the NCAA final in 2014 and is expected to be one of the top teams in the country again this season, and it is looking for its first Pac-11 title since 2006.
Altmann has taken over the job from former assistant coach Mike Breen, who had been the team’s leading scorer the past two seasons.
Altmal says Breen didn’t play at all for much of the season because of knee injuries.
Altmeda said Breen was in good spirits and healthy.
Breen was a two-time All-American at Oregon.
Altiman had him back for the 2016 season, but Breen suffered a torn ACL against Colorado.
He was sidelined the entire season, leaving the Ducks with just two wins and a 6-8 record.
Altmand is confident Altman can get his team back on track.
He said Altman and his staff were patient with Breen and that Altmand is the best coach he has ever had in his life.
Altmor said he will still be involved in recruiting, but the team will focus on being better at the box-out.
The Ducks are on a roll.
They are one of three undefeated teams in Pac-13 play, and they’re one of five unbeaten teams in conference games.
They have three wins against teams that won at least four games last season.
Altmor is not worried about losing the Pac 14 crown.
He said the Ducks won’t let a lacklustre conference schedule stop them from being great.
Altimas team has made just one of its past four trips to the Pac Final, the last being a 79-73 loss to Oregon in the 2016 Final Four.
He expects a big improvement from the team that went to Seattle to face Stanford, the reigning national champions, in the Rose Bowl.
The Cougars had a solid season last year and won 11 games.
That season marked the first since 2006 that the Ducks lost fewer than 11 games in conference competition.
Altmal was fired in December, but he’s in