Q&A: Jordan Altman, Grays Harbor College basketball coach

Jordan Altman is in his first season as Grays Harbor College’s men’s basketball coach. The son of University of Oregon head coach Dana Altman grew up in Omaha, Neb., and graduated from Creighton University. He has been on the coaching staff at Wayne State, Indiana State and Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore., while also serving as the team video coordinator at the University of Oregon. The 28-year-old Altman lives in Aberdeen.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being the son of a well-known coach?

That’s a big question. I’ve had 28 years to watch a lot of college basketball and have had a unique exposure to the world of college athletics. My experiences growing up around the game are invaluable. The broad scope of knowledge I have gained from those experiences is truly priceless.

As far as disadvantages, I’m not sure there are any, except that I get more questions about his team than I do about my own.

This is your first head-coaching assignment. Is there anything that has surprised you, either positively or negatively, about the job?

In this line of work, there are surprises every day. When I get into the office every morning, I expect to be surprised at least once a day, but I expected that when I took the job.

I think the surprises are what make this such a fun job, especially the good surprises, like finding out how much support the school and their athletic programs have from the Harbor community or how loud Sam Benn Gym can get when we’re playing well.

What are the biggest challenges that GHC basketball coaches face?

Perception. In the changing landscape of college athletics, image is everything. While uniforms, facilities and amenities are important, there are other factors that help to create a winning or successful image. Community support, academic opportunities and support and style of play can be just as valuable.We have to show athletes that they will receive a higher level of personal attention, on and off the court, and then convince them on the importance of that attention.

You were hired too late last year to do much recruiting. What geographic areas are you focusing on in recruiting for next season? There are those who believe this is a Northwest community college and most recruits should come from Washington and Oregon. Others believe that Grays Harbor, in particular, needs to go outside the Northwest to be competitive. Any thoughts on those theories?

First and foremost, my staff and I have identified several local athletes whom we will need to pursue to some degree. I feel it is our responsibility to make our program appealing to local athletes and make an effort to improve our community from within.

Outside of the Harbor community, it is very likely I will look at recruiting hot spots outside of the Washington-Oregon area. Over the holiday break, I made a recruiting trip watching high school games in Boise, Sacramento, San Francisco and Las Vegas. As we become more successful, it will be easier to recruit Washington players.

Speaking of which, how many local high school games have you been able to attend? What’s your view of the caliber of high school basketball in this area?

I want to recruit top-level athletes. And we have identified more than one in our area that I hope to speak with in the future. However, at this level, many of the best athletes are still exploring their options well into early spring or even summer. So most of the recruiting process goes on after their season is over.

That being said, I’ve been to a few Hoquiam High games and I’ve sent my assistants (Jon Hubbard and Marvin Isaac) to several other local contests.

Your dad’s Oregon team has been nationally ranked for most of the season. What, in your view, is the key to his success as a coach?

I think most of my father’s peers and basketball media will tell you that his teams always get better. From the first tip-off in November to the final buzzer in March (or maybe April), his teams improve as much or more than any team in the country.

He approaches the game with such passion and energy that the desire to improve becomes contagious and his players always seem to meet or exceed their potential.