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March 21, 2015

Dana Altman

Elgin Cook

Joseph Young


THE MODERATOR: The Oregon Ducks are here, Elgin Cook, Joseph Young. Ready for questions.

Q. How much have you discussed last year's game against Wisconsin and did that result serve as motivation in the off-season at all?
ELGIN COOK: Oh, we got like a whole new team from last year, so we didn't discuss it much, but me, Joseph and Jalil are kinda familiar with their plays. So when we start practicing and discussing their plays, I think we can help the team walk through a little more.

JOSEPH YOUNG: Look, we're very confident. It's a new team that's coming in; and like I said, just us just getting together and being more focused and dialed in to what Coach got to say. We the vets; we played them last year. Great team, great players on that team, and they're very smart. So we just gotta listen to Coach and really be dialed in and be focused on what the game plan is.

Q. A lot of hype obviously around Wisconsin because they are a No. 1 seed. Is there any extra motivation for you guys to knock them off and potentially upset some more brackets?
JOSEPH YOUNG: We're just going to go out there and play our hardest, give it our last go-round and we gotta play like it's our last game. Like I said, they're a pretty good team, and I have confidence in my team; and it's all about us, you know. It's not about what's going on in their locker room; it's about our locker room, and I feel like we did a good job of that, keeping our composure and really listening to coach and I really commend the coaching staff in helping us keep our confidence and our composure.

ELGIN COOK: Wisconsin is a very well-coached team and efficient team. Come Sunday, we just want to leave it all on the floor.

Q. Elgin, you mentioned the new cast of players that you guys have from last year. What about them makes you more confident maybe this time around that you can come out successful on this end? What's the difference in this team as opposed to last year?
ELGIN COOK: We just come and we compete every day. We push each other to get better. We're winning, and it feels kinda good. Everybody is confident and we got a great leader, Joe Young.

Q. Joseph, I know you guys are talking about new personnel and that, but the one thing I remember from last year's game, that was essentially a road game for you guys. Do you anticipate it will be a little bit easier this time not having to deal with what essentially was a road environment?
JOSEPH YOUNG: A game is a game. At the end of the day it's your team versus that team and 12 guys that's on the bench and 5 guys is on the court, so it's really the Oregon Ducks against the Badgers, and it's really the team that go out there and win the 50/50 balls. It's not about the crowd; it's about who keep their composure, who keeps their confidence and who plays the game the right way.

Q. Josh Gasser has been like a three All Big 10 defensive player. You seemed to be pretty well in the game against him last year. What do you remember about his defense in that game or what do you see on film or what do you think about it now?
JOSEPH YOUNG: I really just -- I guess he's a good defender. I guess he's a good defender.

Q. Elgin, I know you guys gave up a few offensive rebounds yesterday against Oklahoma State. Wisconsin did a lot of damage on the boards against Coastal Carolina. How big of a factor do you think it might be if you let them get second-chance points?
ELGIN COOK: I think it's going to be a real big factor. It could determine the game. We talked about it a lot yesterday. We didn't get it done, and we're just going to refocus and come out and go at the balls, the loose balls.

Q. Both of you, another player that has had a lot of hype around him is "Frank the Tank," Frank Kaminsky. What are you guys seeing out of him and what does it mean to go up against a guy like him?
JOSEPH YOUNG: Great all-around player. He can really spread the floor, shoot the ball well, good inside, make the right plays, smart player. And we just gotta do a good job on him. Really the game plan is for Coach whatever he has for us. We just got to be really confident in our coaching staff and in our team to get the job done; and really, he's a good player.

ELGIN COOK: Yeah, he's a great player. He had a great game yesterday, and I'm pretty sure Coach is going to put us in a good position to do well against him.

Q. For both of you guys, what do you think was the difference between the first half and the second half last year?
ELGIN COOK: Against Wisconsin; right? First half I know they came out, they got a couple of offensive rebounds, and from there our energy level just went down. If we're not doing as good as we want to be, I think we still need to be active and still have our head up and be confident.

JOSEPH YOUNG: From last year to this year, I feel like this team has a lot more toughness and a lot more heart, even though last year's team was pretty good. Felt like we gave up on some plays last year; we didn't play the whole 40 minutes. And I feel like this team is more active and more ready to play and ready to dive on the floor and make them extra plays and, you know, I really commend this team for really being the best we can be, you know.

Q. Joseph, in that game yesterday, late in the first half, did you attempt to kind of take over that game? Is that something you would try to do at certain times of various games?
JOSEPH YOUNG: Well, you know, commend Coach for really trusting me with the ball, my teammates for really finding screens, playing good defense and finding steals to really create open transition points; and it's just really good ball play. Started off kinda slow, but trying to find my teammates, distributing the ball and getting them shots and making them comfortable for the game. And I just got it going, and I really commend my teammates and the Coach.

Q. Elgin, when you look at Wisconsin's defense, some teams have had success, even as big as Wisconsin is, getting to the rim against them, with slashing-type players such as yourself. Do you think you guys will be able to do that?
ELGIN COOK: I just know Wisconsin, they got a big team; they're long, they're athletic, and whatever plays Coach calls, we're just going to come out and try to execute to the best of our ability.

THE MODERATOR: Okay, gentlemen, thank you very much, best of luck tomorrow. Head Coach of the Oregon Ducks, Dana Altman is here. We will ask him for an opening statement.

COACH ALTMAN: We're happy to still be playing. Offensively we did a great job yesterday. Joe and Elgin, Dillon had great offensive games. We got contributions from our other players and able to win a tough game with Oklahoma State. Tomorrow's game presents a great challenge for our team. Wisconsin probably the best offensive team that we have seen this year. Really impressed with their ball movement; their efficiency on the offensive end creates big challenge for us defensively. So we've got our work cut out for us, but our guys are excited about the challenge and the opportunity.

Q. Dana, I think in last year's game, Wisconsin did some damage on the offensive glass, and I know you guys gave up a few second-chance points yesterday, and that seems to be a possible issue in this game. Would you address what you need to do against them? You talk about their offensive efficiency, but to keep them off the glass when they miss.
COACH ALTMAN: Their rebounding does present problems. They do a great job with their frontline, getting to the offensive glass. It's a big part of their offense, so it will create problems for us. Teams that have done that this year have given us problems, so it's a big challenge for us, and we're going to have to do a great job. We're going to have to team rebound. Our guards are going to have to do a great job of getting back to the glass. We're going to have to be concerned about their tip-outs, they do a great job if they can't get the ball of tipping it out, and we've talked about that, but it's just going to have to be a team effort, all five guys on the floor considering themselves rebounders and going after the ball and not hoping that somebody else will go get it, but going to get the ball, because Wisconsin does a great job on the boards.

Q. After last year's loss, you said it was a great game that you could have, should have won. Now that you get a rematch, what does that mean for you and the rest of the team?
COACH ALTMAN: We're a different team. Last year we had our opportunity. We led the game for a large portion of it. Down to the 2-minute mark we had an opportunity, we didn't get a rebound. So it's a much different situation. They have a lot of their same team back. We're a totally different team; we play differently than we did a year ago. So, you know, other than Elgin and Joe, these guys don't have any knowledge of last year's game, so it's a different game.

Q. Joe also addressed that a little bit, too, and he says he has more confidence in this year's squad because they have a little bit more heart, more toughness to get the job done. Would you agree with that?
COACH ALTMAN: Well, if Joe said it, then I agree with it. We're a different team. Last year, you know, Johnny Lloyd was pretty tough and Mo and Jason Calliste was pretty tough, so I don't like to compare teams. You know, it's just different, you know. Wisconsin, again, they're an experienced team. Their experience level really concerns us, because we're going to play four freshman, and they don't have to do that. So we will have to make great plays. Every possession is going to be very important, on the boards, very important. Easy baskets, us trying to get a few, trying to take their easy baskets away be very important tomorrow.

Q. Kaminsky is one of those guys that's really kind of exponentially improved year after year after year. He went from a role player to a good player to probably one of the better players in the country. Do you kinda look at maybe a guy like Jordan and granted, this is crazy expectations, but do you go, if I could have that guy for four years and develop him year after year after year, do you see that potential from guys just being able to coach them for that long?
COACH ALTMAN: Well, it takes a great work ethic. It takes a player that, you know, wants to spend a lot of time in the gym. Confidence is a big part of it, developing skills that -- you know, you play to your strengths and hopefully develop your weaknesses, and so you have to have players with that mentality. We have been fortunate over the years to get a number of those players, and Frank definitely has made great strides, even from a year ago. Watching last year's film and now watching him this year, he's a unique player at 7-foot being able to shoot the three, put the ball on the floor. His footwork, his balance is really good for a 7-footer. So he is a unique player, but you hope that players take that challenge, you know, and develop their weaknesses as their career goes on. But they have to have a desire, a focus and a work ethic to get in the gym, and those are the unique players, those are the ones that are fun to coach.

Q. Dana, you talked about kind of size creating match-ups problems for your group. What is the key to counter that when you look at Wisconsin and Kaminsky and 6'9, 6'9 there on the line?
COACH ALTMAN: You know, it's got to be physical; it's got to be team rebounding, team defense to overcome that size deficiency that we have. But I hope our quickness is hard for them to guard. I hope that we're able to get the ball moving and get some penetration and get some transition going where they have a little trouble with our quickness. That was a key last year. I thought, you know, transition-wise we got the ball going and got some penetration, hit some shots, and we're going to have to do the same thing tomorrow.

Q. Dana, you mentioned that you guys play a little bit differently than you did last year. How specifically have you changed in terms of style of play from last season to this season?
COACH ALTMAN: Well, you know, Johnny really did a great job of penetrating and kickin' it out. We were bigger a year ago. We did play small at times, but -- and we had a much more experienced group last year than we have this year. So the freshmen have been a little up and down. Last year we had a stretch during the season where we lost a number of close games but, you know, we had experienced guys; Johnny, Jason Calliste, Mo, those guys were seniors, we were a much more experienced team.

Q. Coach, Dwayne Benjamin was inactive in the game against Arizona, but he came through yesterday and got involved. How important was that for you guys yesterday and how important will it be having him involved tomorrow?
COACH ALTMAN: He's a big part of our team. His athleticism, he made a couple of game-changing plays yesterday. The steal and dunk I thought really gave us a big lift. He had two defensive rebounds; you know, he changed a couple of passes. So Dwayne really gives us something unique for his size and his mobility. When he's on, he really gives us another scoring threat, and defensively and on the boards he changes things.

Q. Three scholarship players returned, I believe; you guys were picked for eighth in the league. What kind of hand did you think you had at the beginning of the year and what were the some of key things to help you get to this point?
COACH ALTMAN: Well, those three guys that were returning gave us great leadership and we brought in a talented freshman class, and Dwayne Benjamin did a great job as a junior college transfer. Again, the leadership was critical for us making progress; going through a couple tough patches during the season where we lost a couple of games that we felt like we should have got. The guys continued to work hard and stayed with it, so that leadership was important there. And then the freshman class, Jordan Bell, 87 blocks and giving us a lot of good play throughout the season; Dillon Brooks giving us a third scorer really helped us. The two freshman guards, Casey and Ahmaad, have really handled the ball well and have good assist-to-turnover ratios, which is unusual for freshman guards; and then Dwayne being an X-factor. And we've been fortunate. We have avoided injury; on a team that's not very deep, that's important. We have won close games because, you know, we're a good free-throw-shooting team, and we've got Joe. So it's been a year where things have kinda clicked for us, but it's been a good group to work with, because they're unselfish, they're all about the team, and you know, they like each other, which makes it fun to work with the group.

Q. Joe had a pretty big game last year against a pretty good All-Big 10 defender. How did he get that done and is he an even better player this year?
COACH ALTMAN: His role is different this year. Last year Johnny had the ball in his hands a lot. Jason Calliste was another perimeter scorer that we had; Damyean Dotson was another perimeter scorer, so Joe was on the receiving end of a lot of the passes, and we ran a lot of stuff for him to come off screens and that, and this year he's got the ball in his hands a lot more. So his game has kinda developed a little bit, as more of a combo guard. We still bring him off some screens to get him the ball, but he's done a lot of ball handling for us, a lot more decision making than he had to do a year ago because Johnny Lloyd did a lot of that for us last year.

Q. Dana, you've had success recruiting guys from Canada, Dillon being the latest example. How crucial was getting him late to having the kind of season that you have been able to have this year?
COACH ALTMAN: Well, it was really important to us. You know, he right from the start has been a double-figure scorer for us. Just the rotation, the numbers, you know, and he's really made progress. So he's a big part of our team. I think he's got a great future. I think he can really develop into a good player, because of his basketball savvy. He loves to be in the gym. You know, he's one of the first guys in the gym every day and one of the last guys to leave. So you have that, with natural ability, and his basketball savvy, like I said, is pretty good. I think he's got a tremendous upside, but to answer your question, he's done a great job for us this year, been really easy to work with. I think as he matures and gets his emotions under control in some situations, he's going to be a really good player for us.

Q. Dana, teams have defended Frank Kaminsky differently this year, some have kept their big man on him, and others have put a forward on him just so that they can be more athletic with him. Is that one of the challenges, finding the right personnel to put on him?
COACH ALTMAN: No doubt he's a tough match-up. I talked about him being a unique player in his ability to go and shoot the three. I love the way he puts the ball on the floor and drives it. I'm sure Coach Ryan does also. He's just a unique problem. He can post up, gets his baskets in a lot of different ways, so if you try going big with a defender, he just takes 'em outside. You put a smaller guy on him, he puts the ball on the floor and goes post-up and gives you problems there. So unique match-up, tough match-up. I guess that's why he's Player of the Year and been a tough match-up for everybody.

Q. Dana, you're going to be a pretty heavy underdog in this game. Does that take some pressure off and give you the ability to sort of, what the heck, what-have-you-got-to-lose attitude?
COACH ALTMAN: Not really. Our guys want to play to win. I'm sure we will be an underdog, but that really is not significant. We've got to go play. Our guys want to continue to play, and Wisconsin wants to continue to play, so hopefully we will play our best, because it will take that. We will have to play very well. Their experience level, their talent level, the way they've played throughout the year, we're going to have to play awfully, awfully well, but that's our challenge, and our guys will be ready to do that, and hopefully Joe will hit a few shots, our guys will shoot the ball well and we'll get some stops somewhere along the way.

THE MODERATOR: Anything else for the head coach of Oregon? All right, Dana, good luck.
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