University of Oregon sophomore Nick Hanlin headed to the Student Recreation Center Monday night for his normal workout. However, after checking out a lock, he saw an odd scene. There was a crowd of people passing out PowerBars, and at the helm was head Oregon men’s basketball coach Dana Altman, urging students to attend Tuesday night’s game against Arizona State.
“I went up to him and shook his hand,” Hanlin said. “He told me, ‘We need you at the game tomorrow.’ It was really cool.”
The same message Hanlin received was relayed to everyone that approached Altman at the Rec Center. It turns out that the gym wasn’t the only place Altman visited to deliver his recruiting pitch. Altman also made stops at the Knight library and multiple Greek houses.
Monday night marks the weekly chapter meeting for the Sigma Chi fraternity. Throughout the evening, the executive council at Sigma Chi kept telling the rest of the brothers that they had a surprise for them. When Altman walked into the television room, the brothers were blown away.
“We had no idea what the surprise was,” freshman Max Moriarty said. “Then coach Altman showed up and we were super fired up. It was really cool that he came by.”
Currently, Altman’s team resides on the NCAA tournament bubble. Depending on how the Ducks do this week, and how they fare in the Pac-12 tournament, the Ducks could find themselves in the big tournament or on the outside looking in. Altman knows how important this week is for the immediate future of this team, and he also knows how unique Tuesday’s game is.
“It’s unusual circumstances here,” Altman said. “A Tuesday night game has never happened.”
Along with his in-person showing across campus, Altman also asked students to come to the game in a video produced by the athletic department.
Seeing Altman in person also added a personable touch that the students greatly appreciated.
“Oregon is becoming such a national brand,” Hanlin said. “Seeing him coming through talking to us really brings it home. It shows how humble he is.”
While students haven’t consistently filled the Matthew Knight Arena stands this season, Altman’s stroll through campus Monday will likely help increase the attendance numbers these final two games.
“When the coach of the basketball team asks you to come by, it gets us really fired up,” Moriarty said. “We’re definitely making a more conscious effort. A lot of us are going now.”
Now, Altman can only hope his efforts will result in a full and raucous Pit Crew student section when the Ducks tip off against Arizona State at 8 p.m.
“The students were great,” Altman said. “I hope everybody that said they are coming will be there.”
Follow Joseph Hoyt on Twitter @jhoyt42