LAS VEGAS — Dana Altman felt like Oregon was ready to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
Then the Ducks got word during a team meeting Thursday that the season was suddenly over.
Oregon’s players and coaches woke up and had breakfast before beginning a film session to prepare for their Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal against Oregon State when director of operations Josh Jamieson walked in and told the team that the conference tournament had been canceled due to concerns regarding COVID-19. A couple hours later, the NCAA announced that its men’s and women’s tournament were canceled as well.
The Pac-12 men’s basketball champions ended the season at 24-7, leaving Altman without coaching in the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in the past eight seasons at Oregon.
"The NCAA Tournament is all about matchups and we were definitely capable of making a run," Altman said during an interview with The Register-Guard on Thursday night. "(N’Faly) Dante was coming on and we might have been able to get Chris (Duarte) back."
Oregon was the top seed in the Pac-12 Tournament and slated to face the Beavers at noon. The Big 12, Atlantic Coast and Southeastern conferences canceled their tournaments earlier in the day before the Pac-12 reached the same conclusion.
The NCAA announced on Wednesday that it would conduct its tournaments without fans in the arenas, but then wiped away both the men’s and women’s events Thursday afternoon.
Like many coaches across the country, Altman was hopeful that the NCAA might suspend its tournament until making a final decision at a later date, but added that "the people making those decisions have more information than I do."
Payton Pritchard wrapped up his Oregon career tied with Johnathan Loyd for the school record with 144 games played. The school’s all-time assists leader finished with 211 steals, two short of Kenya Wilkins’ UO record. Pritchard ranks fourth in school history with 1,938 points, 148 shy of Ron Lee’s record that was within reach if the Ducks had made a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Graduate transfers Shakur Juiston and Anthony Mathis were both preparing to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
"I’m disappointed for the players, especially the seniors," Altman said. "It was their last opportunity, so disappointed for them. They did not get to play in the Pac-12 or NCAA tournaments for the last time."
The Ducks were 13th in the final AP poll of the season and likely would have been seeded third or fourth in the NCAA Tournament. Once the Pac-12 Tournament was canceled, Oregon was given the conference’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament by winning the regular-season title, but that was irrelevant by the time conference commissioner Larry Scott met the Ducks in the afternoon to award them that honor.
Oregon stayed in town for the night because a number of players had family members arrive for the tournament, including Addison Patterson’s parents who flew in from Canada.