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March 24, 2017
Kansas City, Missouri
THE MODERATOR: We're ready to go with the University of Oregon. Coach Dana Altman and our lineup of student-athletes for this session, Casey Benson, Tyler Dorsey, Chris Boucher, Dylan Ennis and Roman Sorkin. Coach, we will turn to you. You've had a little bit of time after your game to think about coming into this. Your thoughts?
DANA ALTMAN: Well, we are recovering from a tough ball game last night that went down to the wire. Just finished our practice. Had an opportunity to watch Kansas and Purdue last night, a very explosive offensive effort by Kansas, especially in the second half. Very talented team. Bill does a great job. The atmosphere was a little bit "pro KU" last night, and I imagine it will be the same tomorrow. We know it will be a tough ball game, but our guys are excited about the opportunity.
Q. Dana, Bill just said that you guys know each other, you've coached against each other, how well do you know Bill? He also said that he thinks that the Ducks mirror Kansas in the way that they play. Do you agree with that as well?
DANA ALTMAN: Well, first of all, I've known Bill for a very long time. Probably '86, so that ages both of us. He's a little younger than I am, but we do go back a long ways and our teams have played Oral Roberts, Tulsa, when I was at Creighton. Played him at Illinois. So we have had an opportunity to play a few times.
As far as our teams resembling each other, I think we both are playing small. Without Chris we haven't had quite the opportunity to play big a number of times with Jordan and Chris in the lineup together. So that has kind of cut our ability to play different ways, but the fact that both of us at the forward spots have basically guys with guard skills, Josh for them and Dillon Brooks for us. So, yeah, I think there are some similarities. We both get up and down. We both have veteran teams with Mason being a starter for a long time. We've got guys in Jordan Bell, Dillon and Casey and Dylan Ennis has been around for a long time, so we both have experienced players.
Q. Coach Self said that the Elite Eight has the highest pressure. It's the toughest round to lose in the tournament. Do you agree? Why or why not?
DANA ALTMAN: I've only been here a couple times. I'm not really sure. All the games we feel the pressure to move on, to advance. This one, a little bit more because that Final Four is the goal of everybody. You get into college basketball as a player I think, and as a coach, you always dream of going. So there maybe is a little bit more moving on from the final eight to the Final Four.
CHRIS BOUCHER: Well, I think since last year we were in the Elite Eight and we lost, so I feel like it's the last stage before going to the Final Four and we all want to go there. Coach never went and we only have one coach on the coaching staff that went, so we definitely feel like it's the last stage before the Final Four.
Q. Coach, you've had success against Kansas when you were at Kansas State. You upset, they were ranked No. 1. Talk to us about your time at Kansas State?
DANA ALTMAN: Seven years, three with Coach Kruger and four as a head coach. The games against Kansas were always tough. Coach Brown was there and then Roy took over for him. It was always a tough atmosphere to go over there and played them in old Kemper a number of times in the tournament. Kansas tradition has been there for a long, long time. They've been good for a long time under a number of coaches. Always a tough game.
We're preparing for one tomorrow. We know the atmosphere is going to favor them, and it's a big challenge for us, but our guys having on the road and won ball games before. They've won in tough venues, broke Arizona's 49-game winning streak last year on the road. We'll compete and we will be ready to go.
Q. I'll ask this of Tyler and another one of you that might want to answer. Even though you guys have won a school record 32 games this year and I don't know if it's because you play on the west coast or what, but it seems like the respect factor has not been there for you guys like it should be and against Michigan. They were the darlings with the big story and now you're facing No. 1 Kansas and they have the home crowd here. I don't know if you're getting the respect you deserve. How does that feel?
TYLER DORSEY: I don't think we worry about that and you've got to tie up your shoe laces and go play. We're not worried about respect. We just want to go out there and play game by game and team by team. This is the time of year if you're going to get respect you're going to get it and we've been doing that lately, but we know we're going to have a tough game ahead of and you say they're going to have the home court advantage. We just got to get ready and we play game by game. We're not worried about any respect.
DYLAN ENNIS: I think coming to these games you've got to approach them like they were a conference game. If you start switching things up just because we're in March Madness then we're going to get out of rhythm. We've been playing hard since the start of the season, and we don't worry about if people aren't giving us enough respect. If anything it just puts a chip on our shoulder. We're not going to go out there and prove anybody wrong. We just want to prove ourselves right that we want to be the last team standing.
Q. For both Dylan and for Coach. Dylan, from your standpoint given this is your third school, your sixth year, on a personal level how meaningful is what is about to happen tomorrow to you? Dana, just from the fact that here is a guy who has had a long road. I'm sure that you have a lot of feelings for all your guys, but in Dylan's case, is there something extra for this game for you for him? Just because of the journey he's been on?
DYLAN ENNIS: This game, it's special to me because I know this is possibly my last game. Hopefully not, God willing. I've had a great experience throughout my college career and to end it hopefully on a high note with my brothers and such a great coaching staff. It's big! I have enjoyed my entire career and whatever happens tomorrow, I could go to sleep knowing that I enjoyed every step of it.
DANA ALTMAN: No, it's been great having Dylan with us. He had a tough break last year when he broke his foot. We were fortunate to overcome that, because Casey stepped up and played so well and Tyler as a freshman came in, and we had two young guards that really stepped up and played well and Elgin Cook came through for us.
So we were able to have a nice year last year even when Dylan went down. To win the appeal and to have him come back for his sixth year and finish up his Masters degree and just have an outstanding year for us, it's good. He's the "old man" on the team and that experience with Villanova and other quality programs has helped our ball club.
Q. Yesterday's game you mentioned it in the postgame it came down to the last shot and it could having in and you could have lost it. In watching the game, it seemed like it would have been stolen from you. Seemed like maybe you missed some close-in shots. Does that show the vagaries of the tournament and how frustrating would that game have been since -- did you feel like you had control of that game?
DANA ALTMAN: We never had control of it because Michigan is such a good 3-point shooting team. The missed free throws were definitely a problem for us. Not only toward the end but during the game. When you go 9 for 16 and you miss two or three front-ends, one-and-one's, that usually this time of year doesn't lead to success.
We were fortunate and the game could have went either way. As soon as we got done I'm watching the Gonzaga and West Virginia. West Virginia is up one, gets an offensive rebound, call could have went either way on a put-back and it didn't go their way and Gonzaga comes down and hits a three. All those games could be fragile. Arizona who out of our league we really wanted to win, game turned on 'em in the last couple of minutes. So the game is never over. I preach that to our guys all the time. Up 10, down 10, we've gotta keep playing. But the turning point of the game, we were up 5 and they hit back-to-back threes and all of the sudden we're down 1. The complex of the game changed there.
Q. Coach and Chris and Dylan, for those of us who don't follow the program on a regular basis, can you explain the Canadian pipeline? Is it by design or coincidence that you've had so many good Canadian players through the years?
DANA ALTMAN: We really have. Up north, they've been great to us. We've had seven young men from Canada play for us. Devoe Joseph and Olu Ashaolu were the first two, my second year, six years ago, Jason Calliste and Dylan and Dillon and Chris. We've been just really lucky. The guys have come in and added so much to our program.
Yes, it was by design. We felt that we could get some young men and Devoe and Olu worked out so good as the first two. Fortunately, word of mouth got around and these guys have had pretty good experiences, I think. So we do have another young man coming from Toronto next year that we're excited about. It has been by design, and for our program, it's been unbelievable. These guys have come in and really enabled us to get some consistency and get some tradition started. This is our fifth tournament in a row and it's due in large part to the Canadian young men that have come and played for us.
CHRIS BOUCHER: I would say Coach Mennenga, when he recruited me he came and told me, there is a good tradition coming in and you know, Dylan Ennis and others signed in, so it was easy for me to just come here and feel like I was at home with those guys helping me out. I feel like Coach Mennenga did a good job in recruiting me to come here.
DYLAN ENNIS: I think our connection with Coach Mennenga with Canada basketball was big and Coach Altman just makes us feel at home when we're here. It's great to have the Canadian connection because you talk to people back home and they say Oregon is Canada's team because we have so many Canadians coming here. So it's great to represent Oregon, but also as Canada's team. It's great.
Q. For any of the players that may have played with Landen Lucas at all growing up, AAU or whatever, and if Coach would comment on Landen Lucas who is from Oregon and of course his dad played there?
CASEY BENSON: I don't think any of us played against him.
DANA ALTMAN: No, he was someone that we recruited and his dad did play. He was an awfully good rebounder for the University of Oregon. Obviously Kansas has done a great job, five years, redshirting him a year. It also shows his perseverance, you know, it didn't start out well for him, the redshirt and he didn't get to play much the first couple of years. But he stayed with it and, you know, it speaks to his character.
A lot of young men would have transferred when it didn't go well for him right away. What he's meant to the club this year and last year as a junior and a senior, after spending three years developing with Bill and his system, really shows, you know, sticking with something and perseverance, it's still a quality that's very, very important. We're really happy for him, great guy, great family. His dad is a great guy. Really happy for him. I hope he doesn't play well tomorrow, but he's had a heck of a career.
Q. Chris, devastating to be injured the way you are. What's it been like for you to have to watch from the bench? Then can you give us an example of some of the things that you've been able to see and tell your teammates to help them out?
CHRIS BOUCHER: Well, it's been hard for sure, but seeing my team getting into the tournament and all covers for it a little bit. You always want to be on the floor and play. Definitely hurts sometimes to watch them do it so good and you can't do anything about it.
I feel like being on the bench I saw a lot of stuff, like Coach says I was shooting threes, and I could see what I could do differently now, box out and stuff like that, just the little things that I probably couldn't see when I was playing that you can see from the bench. I'm just trying to help my team and tell them what I could see from the bench and they could go from there.
DYLAN ENNIS: As a senior, I know how hard it is and lucky I got my year back, but him going through this his senior year he's been a big part of this and especially with him on the bench he's so encouraging and he's taken that role as being the next coach, that positive reinforcement. So everything he is doing we can't be more grateful for him.
Q. I'm just curious, if any of you could answer this: Is there anything that you saw against Michigan that you saw your teammates doing, any way that he helped you, something in particular, that you saw they could do better?
CHRIS BOUCHER: If we play like we are going to lose every time then I feel like we could win against anybody. I feel like we can win all the time. Yesterday, Jordan he had to get those two offensive rebounds and Dylan played defense again and I feel like we should do that every possession and not wait until we're down 1, and, oh we're done. I feel like we should play like that in the beginning.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, gentlemen. Thanks for coming. Good to have you on stage. Good luck tomorrow.
Q. Coach, you mentioned not being able to play bigs when Chris went down and KU had a sorta similar situation when Azubuike went down before Christmas. They seemed to recover. Did you have a transition? Are there any silver linings at all in that?
DANA ALTMAN: We've only had four ball games, so I mean, we didn't have time to make many adjustments. Fortunately for us, Kavell has stepped in and given us some really good minutes. Like I said, it was just ten days ago that he went down, so it's been a little different.
Q. Quick turnaround times and not necessarily having your full scout team, when you do a run-through tomorrow morning how closely will the scout team try to simulate what Kansas does and will you personally be in the run-through? I heard you might be one of the Kansas players.
DANA ALTMAN: Our run-throughs are never too full speed because I am out there. You can imagine they're pretty low key. We didn't take as many walk-ons this year as we usually do so our scout team is usually a couple of coaches and a couple of the players. We run through things half speed, three-quarter speed. We don't get at full speed. We've done that all year. Done it in years past. It doesn't change our approach much.
Kansas, Bill's team, they're pretty basic in what they do. They've got really good players and they spread the floor and they've got all those 3-point shooters. There are not a lot of set plays they're running. They spread that floor and let Frank handle it and make plays and if he's not handling it, Devonte' Graham is handling it, and they're setting ball screens up top. It's just very efficient. Their offense, I don't know where KenPom has got them rated, but they're efficient. With all of them being able to pass it, it's one of the best passing teams we've faced in a long time. They pass and catch the ball really well, and when all of them can shoot it they can spread the floor pretty good.
Q. Can you tell us which KU player we will be?
DANA ALTMAN: I will be Frank. I'm always the best player. No, I'm always the point guard, so I just threw that in there. I'm usually the point guard because we got a good feel for what they're going to do and it cuts down the time.
Q. Coach, on paper these two teams mirror each other in numbers. You both shoot well, rebound well, you have an advantage in blocks and whatnot. What does it come down to? Also, two teams with great athleticism. What does it come down to on who wins a game like this?
DANA ALTMAN: We lost our advantage with the blocks with Chris. We were averaging almost seven blocks a game with him, and I think in the four games without him now I think we have eight total. So Jordan has become a little less aggressive with his blocks, trying to stay out of foul trouble. He's done a great job of picking up rebounding. Chris was our second leading rebounder and third leading scorer beside being the guy who blocked the most shots. Defensively we've slipped. Our numbers in the last four games are not as good as they were previous to him going down. So we've tried to make up for that a little bit offensively.
We do play similar styles. Our points per game are about the same. They shoot the three a little better than we do. We both are undersized at some positions. I think they have the advantage, I have been impressed with the way they pass and catch. I don't know if we do that as well as they do. Defensively our numbers were a little bit better, but they're not now.
We're going to have to play really well. With the crowd and with where we're at with our ball club we're going to have to play really good. We anticipate that they're going to play really good because their previous three ball games since the conference tournament they have played outstanding. There is no reason to think that they're going to play any less than what they've done. We're going to have to play our tails off and our guys know that. Hopefully, you know, things will go our way, but we will be ready. I think guys are excited about playing and that's a big part of it.
Q. Coach, you said last night after the game that you owe so much to this group of players for being in this position that you're in and I know that these opportunities are fleeting to get to this level every year. I'm curious, on a personal level, what does this group mean to you? Is there anything special about them that has touched you?
DANA ALTMAN: Well, as a coach, I owe every player that's played for me because I wouldn't be in this position if it weren't for all the former players who I was fortunate enough to coach.
This group is special because we've had injuries. Dillon Brooks didn't start the season. We had him on a minute restriction all the way through December. Dylan Ennis was coming off a foot injury, now with Chris injured. The team expectations were high, but we fought through injuries, couple of bad games along the road that hurt, but they've always bounced back.
They've been fun to work with. Been fortunate enough to do this for a number of years and been really fortunate to have players that it's enjoyable to go to work with, but this group, unselfish. I've asked each of them to give up something for the team. Everybody wants to shoot it every time they get it and want it to be all about them, and for them to be unselfish, it's been an outstanding group in that regard.
The one thing I really like about 'em is they compete. We compete in practice. Every now and then over the years, you know, you had to really try to stoke the fire to get 'em to compete. This group, we've had to settle 'em down a few times because they get after each other and the pot starts to overboil a little bit, but I love their competitiveness.
Q. Dana, growing up in this part of the country and having coached in the same conference, what did Kansas basketball represent to you? Was it a gold standard of what every program wants to be?
DANA ALTMAN: If you spend seven years at Kansas State you don't like the Jayhawks, all right? Chickenhawks, all right? You can't spend seven years 90 miles away and the one chance we had to go to the Final Four in '88 they beat us after we had beat them in the conference tournament. We beat them 2 out of 3 and we had to play 'em a fourth game and they beat us to go to the Final Four. It's great tradition. We're in the league now and you've got UCLA and Arizona with great tradition.
Kansas State has great tradition, but Kansas obviously has done awfully, awfully well. Type of tradition we would like to build at Oregon. We've got a long ways to go to even be mentioned with those types of programs, but I think eventually someday our program can have that stability and that consistency that some of the traditional programs have and KU definitely has that.
Q. You and Coach Self go back a long ways. When you're playing a Bill Self team, what does that mean?
DANA ALTMAN: Well, they compete. They always have. Defensively they're always going to be solid. This year is a little different because they're not quite as big. Traditionally they've always run a high/low and tried to jam that thing in and they're dependent more on their 3-point shooting this year offensively than what they have been.
Bill has a way of getting the best out of each team. He's flexible enough that if the personnel is a little different he can change his style and he has with this team. I mentioned not running as many sets and not looking high/low as much and a lot more perimeter oriented than some of his other bull clubs have been. But they're always going to be disciplined, well-schooled and know what they want out of each defensive and offensive possession.
You don't win as many games -- he's been at great programs. Tulsa was good. Illinois was good, and Kansas. He's had pretty good jobs, but he's always made 'em a little bit better.
Q. I was wondering, Dillon Brooks talked about controlling his emotions more this season. I was wondering what examples you had? A situation in the past you would have had to reign him in but he controlled himself this year.
DANA ALTMAN: He's only had one technical this year, that's the first sign. You know, you don't want to take passion out of a player. But there is a fine line there. When it affects his performance, when it affects your team. I would much rather have a player that you're trying to just calm down a little bit rather than one you're always begging to play hard. I've never had to beg Dillon Brooks to practice hard or play hard. He's been really fun to work with. He has matured, but you would hope that out of any player that's been with you three years. You know? His freshman year he had some technicals and he sat by me a lot because of it.
But that was probably the best thing. He doesn't like to sit. He got his first technical in the tournament against Rhode Island, and he didn't like sitting for six or seven minutes. He saw how poorly it reflected on him and the team. He's a smart guy. He's a smart guy. He doesn't want to hurt his team.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach, for coming. We'll see you tomorrow. Good luck.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports