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Oregon Ducks ready to face the 2021-22 mens basketball season with versatility and plenty of size to ensure they can tackle the season in 2022

Oregon Ducks ready to face the 2021-22 mens basketball season with versatility and plenty of size to ensure they can tackle the season in 2022

Though Dana Altman didnt provide a timeline as to when he would like to retire, the 63-year-old Oregon basketball coach made his intentions clear.

The Family, then Basketball.

They have a good relationship for now.

Altman, Oregons coach since 2010, says he doesnt have much other than basketball other then family and grandchildren.

I dont know what Id do if I didn not go to the gym every day. My wife Reva would get tired of me really quick, Altman said Wednesday at Pac-12 basketball media day in San Francisco.

If Altman has more grandchildren in the future, that may change.

My granddaughter came to practice the other day and I told him, dont ever make me make a decision between her and you guys, because Ill take her every time, Altman said. The guys all laugh, but its true. Those grandkids, change things.

But I love coaching. I hope Oregon will have me for a long time because Id love to keep going for long times.

As per usual, it's hard to describe what Altman thinks of his current team. Outsiders believe the Ducks will be good. Oregon was voted second in the Pac-12 preseason media poll. Altman has hopes I hope we play hard, I hope that we perform well, he said, but a practice session only started two weeks ago.

Weve had the longest season of any collegiate sport, Altman said. Were hoping to be playing April 1, said the team.

Oregon has a slew of solid returnees, transfer opportunities, and newcomers, as well as countless others. What makes this team different is its size. The Ducks have four players who are 6-foot-11 or taller.

Oregon hoped to take advantage of its large size by adding 6-11 NFaly Dante and Franck Kepnang to its roster a year ago. Kepnang was too unprepared for Keknaangs illustrious career. Altman wasnt sent out to play in the 6-foot-and-under league, but the Ducks were on the small side. Oregon was hurt at times; against Oregon State, for example, the Beavers out-rebounded the Ducks 38-24 and 45-23 in two victories.

Certain teams with big athletes gave us problems," said Altman.

Kepnang is larger, stronger, and more confident, said Altman, who said Dante is now feeling well. Nate Bittle, a 7-foot freshman from Crater, has tremendous upside, very talented young man, but hes got to get more physical... itll take time, the UO coach said.

Isaac Johnson, a 7-foot freshman who signed for Oregon in 2019 and then went on solitary duty for two years, is the fourth big.

Hes got a good feel for the game, according to the club. It will take some time to get rid of the rust and get stronger, Altman said.

Altman doesnt yet know how any of the four will be deployed, but he does like the fact that there are options. He had a few last season.

We can go with some larger lineups, and that gives us some flexibility on what we do with certain of our matches that we didnt have a year ago, Altman stated. Youd like to be able to change it up if something isnt working. Those four guys give us the flexibility to do that.

Oregons 2021-22 roster includes seven newcomers, including three transfers from Power 5 schools. Its what Oregon basketball has become: something old, something new, and sometimes from the transfer world.

Altman is content with the constant fluctuation of his roster.

I want guys who want to be here, and want all in. The guys who have excelled in our program are doing it that way, he added. Ive got no problem with guys if they think that a different situation is more conducive to them. Ill give them the pros and cons of that decision, but if they want to go, I understand.

Another change this season comes from the coaching staff, as longtime assistant Tony Stubblefield has taken over as head coach at DePaul. Chris Crutchfield, who is from Arkansas, was replaced by Stubblefield after he had been at Oregon since 2010 and Altmans lead assistant.

Even if they are close, Crutchfield gives Oregon a fresh set of eyes, even he and Stubblefield were college roommates and at Crutschfields wedding, studbblefeld was there.

It was a simple hire for me. Crutch has been my companion for a long time, said Altman. Tony, on the other hand, is my idol. Eleven years he was here, trying to build something in Oregon. He was there every day, right in front of me, in the office. He had to listen to me complain all the time. It wasnt easy to get angry with him.

--Nick Daschel | ndaschel@oregonian.com | @nickdascher

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