About an hour after the horn sounded to conclude a friendly alumni game at Creighton’s practice facility Saturday afternoon, Dana Altman was still out there in the middle of the court.
Some guys had already showered and left. Staffers were canvassing the sidelines and picking up empty Gatorade cups.
But a grinning Altman stood there with his hands on his hips as he bounced in and out of conversations. He laughed, shook hands and posed for photographs.
There were 45 former players and coaches in the building — their CU careers spanning the length of Altman’s 16-year tenure. They all returned to campus this weekend to help celebrate the Creighton Hall of Fame inductions of Altman and legendary scorer Kyle Korver.
“It’s special to be back — most importantly to be able to spend time with the players,” Altman said.
You can text and call all you want. And Altman does. He said he also picks up the newspaper every morning during the winter to check the stat lines of his former players in the pros. But there’s nothing like a face-to-face reunion.
So Altman was doing his best to cherish every moment Saturday.
“I’m blessed to have a group of guys who for 16 years really cared about Creighton, cared about each other, cared about building a winning program,” he said.
The players directed the credit right back at Altman on Saturday.
In fact, after Altman had entertained the group with joke-filled stories during a private lunch, Brett Angner thanked the program’s all-time leader in coaching victories for helping him and his teammates reach their potential on and off the court. Korver summed up the message with reporters later that afternoon.
“Most of us weren’t really wanted by anybody,” said the 37-year-old sharpshooter from Pella, Iowa, who is entering his 16th season in the NBA. “We came in here with a chip on our shoulder, and Coach showed us how to use that.”
A tone of appreciation seemed to define Saturday’s festivities.
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A portrait taken in 1983 when Dana Altman was named The World-Herald's State College Coach of the Year. He led Southeast Community College to a 29-6 record and the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament for the first time in 25 years.
After head coaching stops at Marshall (1989-90) and Kansas State (1990-94), Dana Altman returned to his native Nebraska in April 1994 to take over at Creighton.
After going 54-59 through his first four seasons, Dana Altman brought Creighton back to the NCAA tournament in 1999 — its first appearance in eight years — after defeating Evansville in the Missouri Valley tournament championship. The Jays, a No. 10 seed, would then upset Louisville in the first round before losing to No. 2 seed Maryland.
Dana Altman celebrates with his daughter, Audra, and wife, Reva, after winning his second consecutive Missouri Valley tournament title in 2000.
Creighton nearly won again as a No. 10 seed in the 2000 NCAA tournament but ultimately lost by three to Auburn.
Dana Altman and Creighton were a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament for a third straight year in 2001, but like the previous season, the Jays fell in the first round.
Dana Altman was twice named the Missouri Valley Conference coach of the year during his time at Creighton, receiving the honor in 2001 and 2002.
One of the greatest wins in Creighton history, Dana Altman led the No. 12-seeded Bluejays to a one-point, double-overtime victory over Florida in the first round of the 2002 NCAA tournament.
The Bluejays ended up on the wrong side of an upset the following year, as No. 6-seeded Creighton fell to Central Michigan by six in the 2003 NCAA tournament.
In 2005, Dana Altman won the fifth of six Missouri Valley tournament titles he'd bring to Creighton during his time as coach of the Bluejays.
After the end of the 2006-07 season, Dana Altman left Creighton to become the next head coach at Arkansas. He was formally introduced at a press conference in April 2007.
Dana Altman had a change of heart the day after that press conference at Arkansas, deciding he would instead return to Omaha and remain Creighton's coach.
Dana Altman made his final trip to the NCAA tournament with Creighton in 2007, falling as a No. 10 seed to Nevada in the first round.
On March 22, 2010, Dana Altman coached his last game at Creighton in his home state of Nebraska, defeating Fairfield in the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. The Jays went on to lose in the semifinals, and then Altman left for Oregon.
After 16 seasons at Creighton, compiling a 327–176 record and reaching seven NCAA tournaments, Dana Altman became the head coach at Oregon on April 26, 2010.
Dana Altman returned to Omaha in his first season with Oregon, facing the Bluejays in the championships series of the College Basketball Invitational. Altman and the Ducks lost that one but would win both games on their home court to take the title.
Dana Altman made another return to his native Nebraska during the 2011-12 season, defeating the Huskers in Lincoln.
Dana Altman reunites with Creighton athletic director Bruce Rasmussen after his third NCAA tournament appearance with Oregon brought him to Omaha in 2015. The Ducks won their first-round game that year as a No. 8 seed before falling to eventual national runner-up Wisconsin.
Dana Altman led Oregon to the Pac-12 tournament title in 2016, his second as coach of the Ducks and the fourth in program history.
Oregon and Creighton were both sent to Sacramento, California, for the opening round of the 2017 NCAA tournament and were set for a potential meeting had both teams won their first game.
Dana Altman and Oregon won their first three games of the 2017 NCAA tournament to reach the Elite Eight for the second straight year.
Dana Altman led Oregon to its first Final Four appearance in 78 years with a 74-60 win against Kansas.
The success during Altman’s era was worth celebrating — the Jays went to seven NCAA tournaments, including all four years Korver played. They set the stage for the program’s current pursuit of sustained national prestige. But the memories that resonate often aren’t about the games and the wins.
“It’s interesting to go through those years where you’re just pushing and you’re grinding,” Korver said. “Then you take this break and come back 20 years later and see how all of these people are who were pushing and grinding with you. And you see how those years helped form the men that they are today. Those really were great years.”
Korver couldn’t stop from busting up laughing when he recounted that a superstitious Altman had the players eating Arby’s roast beef sandwiches before away games one year — because they’d eaten that same fast food meal before their first road win of the season, and had to keep the same routine.
Altman chuckled as he detailed the time Alan Huss, now a CU assistant coach, celebrated a bucket so enthusiastically that his fist pump caught Korver in the face. Blood everywhere. Broken nose. Korver had to wear a mask for a couple of weeks because of it.
Both Altman and Korver were presented with pieces of the court from the old practice gym Saturday. That building holds a ton of memories, Altman said — he can still recall sitting in his office, which was situated underneath the court, and listening to players such as Korver getting extra on-court shots late at night.
There was shot-making on display Saturday, too. It all occurred at the Championship Center, though. So perhaps it was fitting that Altman and Korver just watched.
A couple of dozen former players suited up for a casual pickup game. Former CU assistant Len Gordy shouted “four-down” from the sideline — a nod to Altman’s old offense. Ryan Sears drew a charge. Angner wore one of his old game jerseys. Justin Carter and DeAnthony Bowden both dazzled with dunks.
This is fun, Gordy told Altman afterward. Altman nodded.
“It’s really a special place,” he said.
Jays retire No. 25
The No. 25 jersey won't be worn by another Creighton basketball player, CU announced as part of its Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Kyle Korver and Dana Altman on Saturday night.
Korver, the legendary scorer, and Altman, the program's all-time winningest coach, were recognized at a banquet before more than 700 people in downtown Omaha.
And at the conclusion of the event, Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen told the crowd that the Jays would be retiring Korver's No. 25 jersey number. Korver was presented with a framed Creighton jersey.
Korver becomes the fifth player in CU hoops history to have his number retired, joining Bob Gibson, Bob Portman, Paul Silas and Bob Harstad.
Korver, who played at Creighton from 1999 to 2003, was a second-team All-American as a senior. He was a member of four NCAA tournament teams. He holds the Creighton and the Missouri Valley Conference records for career 3-pointers made (371).
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Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyle Korver dribbles against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, left, and Kyle Korver share a laugh on the bench.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyle Korver dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the NBA Finals in 2017.
Creighton's Kyle Korver is carried around the court after the Jays won the 2003 Missouri Valley tournament.
Former Creighton basketball player, Kyle Korver, of the Atlanta Hawks, waves to the crowd after playing a NBA exhibition game against the Chicago Bulls at the CenturyLink Center.
Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver reacts in the final seconds of the second half of of a first-round playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Former Creighton basketball players, Doug McDermott, left, of the Chicago Bulls and Kyle Korver, right, of the Atlanta Hawks, look on during free throws in the NBA exhibition game at CenturyLink Center.
Former Creighton player Kyle Korver "raises the roof" with Mary Ann Filippi during Bluejay Madness in 2011. Both were judges for the slam-dunk contest.
Creighton's Kyle Korver leaves the arena after beating Indiana State during the 2003 Missouri Valley tournament.
Creighton bobblehead versions of Kyle Korver, left, and Doug McDermott.
Kyle Korver paints a home in Omaha during 2012. The Abide Network partnered with Korver, who plays for the Atlanta Hawks, members of the Creighton University men's basketball team and the Bridge Church to paint the house.
Kyle Korver holds his jersey after Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman introduced him after Korver signed with the Bulls in 2010.
Chicago Bulls' Kyle Korver throws the first pitch before a game in 2010.
Utah Jazz guard Kyle Korver, reacts after being called for a foul during a playoff game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Philadelphia 76ers' Kyle Korver calls to an official during a game in 2006.
Kyle Korver showing off his shooting in a timelapse photo in The World-Herald photo studio.
Creighton's Kyle Korver celebrates after the 2003 Missouri Valley conference championship game.
Creighton's Kyle Korver pumps his fist late in game as the Jays started to pull away from Drake in the closing minutes of game in 2003.
Creighton's Kyle Korver celebrates with his little brother, Kirk, 11, after winning the Missouri Valley Conference championship game in 2002.
Creighton's Kyle Korver tries to drive past Illinois' Cory Bradford and Robert Archibald, right, during a second-round NCAA regional game in 2002.