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March 16, 2017
THE MODERATOR: We have from Oregon, student-athletes Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey. Fellows, first of all, could you tell us about your season and what it led to bring you here?
JORDAN BELL: I thought our season was pretty "up" for the most part. We recently lost one of our players, Chris Boucher, but we can still do something special this year with the players we have.
Q. Did Chris make the trip?
TYLER DORSEY: He did.
JORDAN BELL: Yeah.
Q. So he's with you guys? How will he help you from the sidelines?
TYLER DORSEY: He's going to give us energy and he's always keeping us going. He's going to give us energy, providing energy on the bench for us and keep encouraging us and pointing out things he sees on the floor from the bench that we are not doing right and helping us that way.
Q. Was there any particular game that was a turning point in your season?
JORDAN BELL: The Colorado game, probably. That opened our eyes a lot because we had not been playing our best brand of basketball, but we kept winning and we kept getting away with things. But the Colorado game opened our eyes and showed us we can be beat any day. So if we play our brand of basketball we should be fine.
Q. Jordan, how has preparation this week been different without Chris there for you?
JORDAN BELL: It's been very different. I have to try to be even more aggressive on the defensive end and offensive end knowing that he's not coming in to sub me out or come play with me during the game. Just trying to stay out of foul trouble, me and Dillon Brooks being smart on the floor. Also trying to get as much conditioning in as I could as possible during the last couple of days, knowing I'm going to have to play more minutes and everybody is going to have to step it up a little more.
Q. Did you guys see Kavell progress the last few practices? Is he a different player for you guys?
TYLER DORSEY: Definitely, Kavell, we see him do that in practice every day that you all saw in the Pac-12 tournament. So he's going to be ready to hit the glass and hit the plays for us and hit that jump shot or that hook he has down low. He has been effective for us and I think he's going to step us for us and be ready.
Q. What do you expect from the conference in the tournament? A lot of people don't look at the Pac-12, like those of us that see you all the time. But what do you expect your conference to do?
JORDAN BELL: I think we're going to go pretty far. Last year most of the teams lost in the first game, but honestly we could get us and UCLA and Arizona and we could get pretty far with it.
Q. Iona plays a similar style. They like to run, shoot threes a lot. How dangerous is that where a team gets hot from outside and can run with it?
TYLER DORSEY: It's very dangerous. They play four out and one in most of the time and most of their guards can shoot 40% from the field. So containing that and running them off the line. Watching them they are pretty similar to Arizona State who we played in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament, and they shoot a lot of contested shots and tough shots and hit a lot of threes. So it's dangerous, but we've been preparing all week for that.
Q. Just getting back to the previous question. How did the Pac-12 prepare you guys? The conference doesn't get much respect as it should. Cal had a couple of bad losses, so they're not here. But you guys seemed to walk through that mine field pretty good. Can you talk about how it is for both of you preparing yourself going through that conference alone to get to this point?
JORDAN BELL: I think the conference play has prepared us a lot for these tough games. Every team in the Pac-12, every team is different. There are different types of match-ups and different styles of play and different things like that. So I think it prepared us a lot. One through twelve, none of the games were easy, even Oregon State only won one game this year. When we played at their house we only got by three and a half or something like that. So every game was pretty tough. So that prepared us a lot in how to get ready for these games.
TYLER DORSEY: Definitely, the Pac-12 play got us mentally and physically ready for the best part of the season, March. The Pac-12 tournament helped us a lot, and losing that last game helped us mentally to see how we're going to do without Chris. Now what we are going to need to do to move forward and we're going to use that game as motivation to make this run during March.
Q. I know you guys just got here, but do you have any early impressions of the city or the Golden 1 Center?
TYLER DORSEY: Old Town is pretty nice. We went to eat at a restaurant over there, and I've never been here or been around Sacramento. But it's pretty nice.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, gentlemen.
Now, in his seventh season of the Oregon Ducks, head coach, Dana Altman. Coach, can you talk about your season to date and coming into this region?
DANA ALTMAN: We were 16-2 in the Pac-12, tied with Arizona for the Championship, had an opportunity to meet them in the tournament final and lost a close ball game, 83-80.
So it's been a good year. I've enjoyed working with the players. We're anxious to go at 11:00 on Friday morning, tomorrow morning. The only negative, we lost Chris Boucher, a very good player for us the last two years to a knee injury in the semifinal of our conference tournament against Cal.
So that's been a little bit of a blow to us, but the guys responded and we've had a couple of good practices. I think we will be ready to go tomorrow.
Q. How unique is the situation for you with Creighton and Kansas State both here, two of your former teams? Do you still keep tabs on both programs?
DANA ALTMAN: Sure. I spent 7 years at Kansas State and 16 at Creighton. I'm getting old, but -- no, I really enjoyed Kansas State. Two of our children were born there and it was a great seven years. I really enjoyed it.
Creighton, the 16 years we spent there were really enjoyable. I haven't thought too much ahead. Obviously, we've got Iona tomorrow and that's what we're pretty much focused on. But, no, those two places were really great to my family and myself and really enjoyed our time there.
Q. What's the toughest thing going to be in replacing Chris Boucher? What did he do that you're going to have the toughest time replacing from the guys you bring off the bench?
DANA ALTMAN: Shot blocking without a doubt. He led the conference in shot blocking and three a game, and that's not counting the number of shots he altered. So you take the three that he blocked and another three or four that he altered, that's seven shots in the paint that he had a great affect on.
This will be the biggest thing. The second biggest thing is the rebounding. His three-point shooting, we've got a lot of volunteers to shoot threes, so that's not much of a problem, but the shot blocking and rebounding and his personality. Chris is very popular on our team. He's an easy-going personality, and we will miss the things he does for us. But the intangibles that he brought are going to leave probably a bigger hole.
Q. Coach, you mentioned getting old, but just like a bottle of wine, you are getting better. You spent 16 years at Creighton, last seven here at Oregon. You haven't been under 21 in wins, 39 and 29 wins the last couple of seasons. What is the recipe for success for you? You've been doing a great job there. Is it the coaching staff? Coaching? Recruiting? What's there for you?
DANA ALTMAN: It starts with players. There is no doubt about that. We've been really fortunate to have young men that are talented, but also that want to work with us. It takes players that are willing to sacrifice and be part of a team and want to compete.
So we've had really good young men. I've been fortunate throughout my career. I can't think of a year that I haven't enjoyed going and working with the team. They haven't always enjoyed working with me, but I've really enjoyed working with them.
This year's team is no exception. We've got really good players that are unselfish, really competitive, led by Dillon Brooks. He is one of the best young men I've had an opportunity to coach. Secondly, it's my staff. I have been fortunate over the years to have guys that have stuck with me, Kevin McKenna is on our staff. He's been with me close to 20 years now. Tony Stubblefield may be the best I've ever worked with. He's been with me all seven. Josh Jamieson was there when I arrived. He does a tremendous job. Mike Mennenga. I've been fortunate in my years at Creighton and at Kansas State I had really good staffs.
Players, first of all, because there is no coach that's ever won a game without a really good team. But then the staff has been extremely loyal and stayed with us a long time.
Q. Dana, going back to November when you made the decision to start Payton and bring Casey off the bench, what went into that and how hard was that to do given that Casey had been a starter on the team for you?
DANA ALTMAN: You know, fortunately the players didn't make as much about it as some of the media. Casey wants to win. Casey is all about the team. He's really unselfish. It's a blow, because everybody likes to have their name and run out there and act silly and all that.
But Casey also knows that his production has gone up. I've said all along we had seven starters. Chris Boucher and Casey started all for us last year. Jordan Bell came off the bench last year. We just reversed some roles on who gets their name called out. But the minutes, what they bring to our team, they didn't really change, haven't really changed that much. So, for me, it was not that big of a deal.
Like I said, I know the guys like to start, everybody likes to start, but, you know, fortunately for me we've got young men who are unselfish and winning is a priority and being part of a Championship team. Those guys wanted to win the Pac-12.
They were heartbroken when we didn't beat Arizona the other night. We didn't go there to get second. So they were heartbroken. Those guys are competitors and want to win. So thankful that they're unselfish enough to not get caught up in the hype of who is starting.
Q. Is Iona part of the challenge? The fact that they were in the tournament last year, they got a couple of transfers who played in this tournament that you figure they come in here not as awe struck as some 14 seeds might be?
DANA ALTMAN: They're not going to be awe struck. They played Iowa State tough last year, and they got a very competitive team. They're going to space the floor and shoot a ton of threes. We're going to have to fight to dribble, contest those threes. When you take 25 3's a game and shoot 40% from three you're going to win some games. They've had 19 games where they've had 10 or more 3s.
So our perimeter defense is going to be challenged and we don't have Chris there to protect the rim and push out like we traditionally do. We've had a very good defensive team on the three-point line and a big part of that is the guys' security to go out and run at shooters knowing that somebody was protecting the rim.
We don't have that luxury now. So it changes a little bit of the way we're going to play defensively, but, you know, Iona, they won't come in with any fear. They played Iowa State tough as all get out last year and they're a good team that shoots the three and place aggressively offensively and defensively. We know we've got our work cut out for us. There is no doubt about that.
Q. You said you wanted to take some time after the Pac-12 tournament Championship game to make adjustments without Chris being in the game. Obviously you've played without him before, but what does it look like now?
DANA ALTMAN: It's not that much, couple of different things offensively we want to do, and defensively we've got to tighten things up without him at the rim. But Kavell is anxious to play, and Kavell just has to play his game. He doesn't need to do anything different. He's not Chris. They're two totally different players, and we've got to play a little differently than we did with Chris.
Q. Could you tell us about Kavell as a person, what he brings to this team?
DANA ALTMAN: Kavell has been very good to work with. He was disappointed for a while because he wasn't getting to play as much as he wanted and I would be upset with him if he wasn't concerned. I want guys that want to be on the floor. The best thing is he handled it well. He kept coming to practice, working his tail off. He's got tremendous upside.
I think he's going to be a really good player for us. He's filled in, even before Chris's injury he was filling in for Chris and doing a tremendous job. I love the way he rebounds. I love the way he tries to complement everybody on the team and he played well against Arizona. He did a good job filling in.
So our expectations for him tomorrow are to come out and give us 15-20 minutes and to play his game, not try to fill in for Chris, but be Kavell and play as well as Kavell can play.
Q. Can you talk about how big of an advantage it is to play somewhat close to home? Is that something you stressed during the course of the year? To get that higher seed?
DANA ALTMAN: You know, not really. I know the guys, some of the guys from the west coast wanted to stay close, but I'm not sure there is a big difference. An hour plane flight, a two-hour plane flight. I don't know. We hope to have some fans here. Our fans have been pretty good to us all season, so it would be nice to have a few here. You're on a neutral floor and I'm not sure that it makes all that much difference.
It is nice, you know, if families are able to come, though, and like for Jordan Bell who is from Long Beach and Tyler is from LA. It's nice when you're close and your family can get there easier.
Q. Coach, with Creighton on your side of the draw and we're here in Sacramento, guy plays here that calls this arena home, Anthony Tolliver. Can you talk about his progression from when he was a Sophomore at Creighton through his successful NBA career?
DANA ALTMAN: Anthony is a fine young man. His freshman and sophomore years didn't go as planned. He had some injuries that he fought through, and in today's age he probably would have transferred because everything didn't go well. But fortunately for us he stuck with it. His junior year, you know, we just rode him. He was phenomenal. We had some other injuries on the team and if it wouldn't have been for him, we would have really had a tough year. His senior year he was just a dominant figure for us, both on and off the floor. Great young man.
It wasn't like NBA stardom was thrust upon him, he went overseas, D-League, and he earned it through perseverance and hard work and the type of young man that he is. He just earned it. He's earned his spot on every roster he's been ever since, and I know he had a big game the other night. I pick up the paper every day and see what his stats are and he had a big game in Orlando the other night which they won. So I'm really happy for him. Great guy, great family, really, really happy what's happened for him since he left Creighton.
Q. Dana, what have you seen from Payton the last couple of weeks? How has he held up over the grind of the Pac-12 season, and what do you expect from him on this stage?
DANA ALTMAN: Well, he's played well. He wasn't as aggressive offensively in the conference tournament as he had been and some of that's probably my fault. I'm always barking at him about handling the ball and not turning the darn thing over and probably got on him a little too much. We need him to be a little more aggressive. He's having a phenomenal year. He's handling the ball well. He and Casey have done a great job, you know, they've tag teamed and played together a lot, really done a good job.
Both of them need to relax and play and quit listening to me, you know, and just go and play. They've done a tremendous job in spite of me always after them. Point guards, they catch more than most guys. They got the ball in their hands, setting the tone for us defensively. So they catch more than most guys do and Payton has handled it well, Casey has been phenomenal in the three years I've had the opportunity to work with him. They'll be fine. They'll be fine.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports