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March 10, 2011

Dana Altman

E.J. Singler


UCLA - 59

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement, and then questions.
COACH ALTMAN: Well, I'm really proud of the guys. I thought our execution offensively was really good tonight. The ball movement was really good. Defensively our communication was very good, and because of that we didn't give up a lot of easy baskets and a lot of open looks.
Then we kept the boards relatively close. They've given us problems on the boards in our earlier meetings, so keeping the boards close was important.
Really proud of our guys. Really pleased with the way they played. E.J. had another great game, and I thought Malcolm started the second half. When they came out with a big burst to start the second half and really took it inside on us and got three easy baskets, Malcolm answered with the three and a driving lay-up that I thought instead of getting it under 10 we were able to keep it at 13.
So I thought Malcolm's start in the second half was really, really important for our team.

Q. How do you explain this one? You lost to them twice during the season, and you dominated tonight.
COACH ALTMAN: Our guys had a lot of confidence coming into the game. Both times we played them we led double figures in Eugene and 8 or 9 at our game at UCLA. And both games for 30 minutes we led, or close to that. We were in pretty good shape. Their physicality was worse down at the end.
Our guys felt pretty good coming in. I thought the finish of the first half was important because we had leads in those two first games. About 10 or 8 points and they finished the half strong and got it down to three or four. But we were able to hit a long shot and keep it at 14 there.
Then as I mentioned, the start of the second half was critical. Malcolm hit those buckets to keep that lead. So we had a level of comfort. Kind of kept them on edge with the big lead. Just really good ball movement, and our guys played really well tonight. We played good.

Q. UCLA kind of did the same thing last week against Washington State. Went down by a ton, and then they came back and ended up winning. What was the difference? What did you have to do to keep that margin so wide?
COACH ALTMAN: Again, I thought we had some really good possessions, you know; and Malcolm took the ball at the basket and finished some plays. We hit some timely buckets. E.J. hit a big three in the corner. Once we got it -- once you get an 18, 19-point lead, your guys relax and the ball movement was pretty good.
Then it just became a matter of getting stops and rebounds. And that's where the communication on the defense was so effective. So, again, we just played really good. The communication on our defensive end, the ball movement, we played very well tonight.

Q. You guys held Nelson and Smith pretty much in check, 12 points combined, 4 of 15, what were you doing inside?
COACH ALTMAN: Well, we'd try to double them when they'd throw it to him on the block. Smith does not have great range, but he is very effective around the basket. A couple times he had the ball under there and looked like gnats trying to get the ball out of his hands. He doesn't have great range, so we wanted to double him, and I thought that was pretty effective.
On Nelson we tried to double him a little bit. We weren't quite as effective because his moves were a little quicker. But I thought the double team on them was fairly effective.

Q. How important was it for E.J. to have the game that he's had in the past two games, being that Joevan hasn't led you guys in scoring like he has for most part of the season? And E.J. for you to have your best two games of the season during the Pac-10 Tournament?
COACH ALTMAN: Well, first of all, E.J. has scored well. He's had some awfully good games without scoring baskets for us. You know, Joevan's kind of been our rock all year. He's the guy we've gone to. They double teamed him tonight.
They were focused on taking -- every time he caught the ball in the block, they went and double teamed him. So it made it kind of tough on Joe tonight.
But E.J. offensively has really stepped up these two games and played awfully, awfully well. Hit his free throws. He's a very good free-throw shooter, so he's had two very good offensive games. Defenses are going to gear to take away Joe like they have, then people have to step up and E.J.'s done a fine job the last two nights.
E.J. SINGLER: Yeah, definitely. Joe's one of our big keys to our offense. You know, our opponents really key on him; and tonight our teammates really executed offense well. I just got open shots and I tried to be aggressive throughout the whole game.

Q. E.J., why were you guys able to beat them off the dribble so easily? You guys drove through the paint with pretty much ease all night long.
E.J. SINGLER: We spread out the floor tonight. We were just really aggressive in the way that UCLA plays defense. They play up in you and sometimes they overextend. We tried to be aggressive, drive the gaps. If someone's open, kick or take it to the rim, and we executed that tonight.

Q. Did you get a sense that UCLA was taking you guys lightly at all or didn't come to play tonight?
E.J. SINGLER: I don't think so. I thought we just executed well both defensively and offensively. You know, we had confidence coming into this tournament knowing if we did that anything can happen. We did that, and we just played really well tonight.

Q. Being that we won't get a chance to talk to you tomorrow, either Washington State or Washington, I'm sure you don't have a preference, but what are you going to have to do in order to win and advance to get to the next round after this with Washington or UW?
COACH ALTMAN: They're two very good teams. We split with both of them during the regular season. Lost to them on the road and one at home. Their depth and athleticism, both teams, their size has given us problems.
Whichever team, I think it's going to be a matter of us getting rested and being able to bounce back for a late game tomorrow. It will be our third game. Our depth isn't great, so guys are going to have to take care of themselves.
I think tomorrow the same communication on defense, both teams will switch it up between man and zone, so we'll have to be prepared for that and be ready to change our offenses up.
But I think whichever team we have to play, we'll have our work cut out for us. We'll have to play as well as we have the last two nights to put ourselves in a good position.
Both of them are good basketball teams, like I said. We split with both of them, and we played really well at home to beat both of those teams and they beat us double figures on the road. So we'll have to play awfully well to get either one.

Q. Can you talk about as a player the energy level difference between a team in your situation where it's win or go home, as opposed to UCLA who is kind of a lock to be in the NCAA's?
E.J. SINGLER: Throughout the whole year I think we've been that underdog. We've had that mentality throughout the whole year. Coming into this tournament, we just wanted to show the Pac-10 that we can play.
Our energy for the past two games has been really high, and that's what's given us, I think, the edge. Without that energy, you can lose and I think we've just been playing really well the past two games.

Q. Can you talk about UCLA's body language or things that they were saying and wondering at what point you could sense their frustration or if you could?
E.J. SINGLER: They were frustrated throughout the whole game. We were executing offense and defensively. That happens in games, but you've just got to play through it. Sometimes the ball doesn't go in for you, and I think UCLA got frustrated and down on themselves, and we took advantage of that.

Q. Can you talk about when they got the technical for having an extra player on the floor? Can you talk about what you saw? Because Reeves was all of a sudden walking in front of your bench and you were, like hey, there's an extra guy out there.
COACH ALTMAN: I'm not a math major, but when I saw five out there and one walking in front of our bench, I totaled that up to six. It's one of those things that happens sometimes, not communicating and -- we were fortunate there. Things went in our favor. We got that, obviously the three-pointer that Garrett threw in at halftime, when you're going to beat a good team like UCLA, a team that's very well coached, you've got to have a few breaks, and we got a couple tonight.

Q. Was that stunning to see that from a Ben Howland coached team this time of year, so detail oriented to have six guys come out on the floor after a timeout?
COACH ALTMAN: Well, like I said, guys got to communicate. It doesn't happen very often for any team. And Ben does a great job. His assistants do a great job. So you're surprised when it happens to anybody.
But, again, when teams don't communicate, that can happen to anybody.

Q. One more thing about the technical foul. Have you seen that? When is the last time you've seen six men on the court? Do you see that very often or have you ever seen that in a game which you've been in?
COACH ALTMAN: Back when I was coaching junior college ball, and that would have been in the '80s. It hasn't happened for a while.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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