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October 15, 2015

Dana Altman

Elgin Cook

San Francisco, California

DANA ALTMAN: Well, it's another year, another season starting off. I think we've got a group of good guys that want to compete, so I think it will be a lot of fun working with them this year. We've got a challenging schedule non‑conference, and I think the league looks awfully good, so it should be an exciting year of basketball out West.

Q. Coach, what are your thoughts on playing Navy in Pearl Harbor on the 74th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks?
DANA ALTMAN: Really looking forward to it. Our team had an opportunity two years ago to go to South Korea and play on an Army base, and I thought it meant a lot to our players. I know it meant a lot to our staff.
So when the opportunity came up to go play on December 7th and observe that holiday or that tragedy, I was all set to go.
Fortunately, the administration allowed us to go. It's our finals week, that Monday is, but they allowed us to go.
We're going over to honor the servicemen that work there, and it should be a great experience for our players.

Q. I was wondering, with Joe Young having left, is there a player on your team now that you feel like is going to be a focal point on offense, or is it just more kind of distribute it more evenly throughout your team?
DANA ALTMAN: Well, we were more balanced last year than people gave us credit for. You know, Joe did get 20 a game, but Elgin was at 13, 14; Dillon Brooks was in double figures; and then Dwyane and Jahlil were right at double figures.
This year I think we'll have that balance. I think we have five or six guys that are capable of scoring in double figures on any given night. Elgin has proven that he can do that. Dillon Brooks, Dwyane, Dylan Ennis, Tyler Dorsey, a freshman coming in, is a good scorer, and Chris Boucher. And I think other guys on any given night can step up and throw a few baskets in.
I think offensively we'll be a balanced team with a number of guys who can score. We're going to have to guard better. We're going to have to do a better job on the boards. But I think offensively we've got a number of guys that can step up and score a basket.

Q. Last year you guys finished the season and won the last nine out of ten games. What was the language from when you just finished and what have you said to your guys to try to pick up where you left off?
DANA ALTMAN: Well, first off, you have to remind them that that didn't happen on its own. They made it happen. We had a good group of guys and they got better as the season progressed, and they worked awfully hard. Sometimes you think that that'll just happen by itself, and those guys made it happen.
You mentioned Joe, but Joe was just a part of it. Elgin, Dylan, Jordan Bell, we had a number of guys who really stepped up and played well down the stretch.
I think they've carried that over into the off‑season. I think we had a very productive spring, summer and fall, been very pleased with our work ethic there. But it's just not going to happen. We've got to make it happen. Guys are going to have to be committed to it. We're going to have to be unselfish. We're going to have to make adjustments to our game. We're still a little undersized, so everybody is going to have to play big and be versatile.
But if they're all willing to do that, then I think we have a chance to be okay.

Q. This is seemingly one of your most contiguous lineups. Has that changed the way you've been able to prepare for this season?
DANA ALTMAN: A little bit, just, you know, with Elgin's experience, Dwyane's experience, those two seniors coming back, Dillon Brooks, Casey.
Jordan is injured right now, so he's not practicing, but that does give you a tremendous core to work with. Dylan Ennis, a fifth‑year guy, has a lot of D‑1 experience and he's been easy to work with.
I think we've got a group that hopefully will make progress, and we still have a lot of new faces to work in. That's the exciting thing. We've got three talented freshmen that I think will be pretty good, a junior college transfer. I think our new guys, and I think we can make progress with them.

Q. Larry Scott said the idea of making college basketball a one‑semester sport was intriguing to him. What are your thoughts about that and would you support that?
DANA ALTMAN: Well, we're on the quarter system, so I'm not sure about that. I think our season is really long. We started practice October 3rd, and hopefully we're playing into March, almost a full six months. I think it's pretty hard on college guys to go that long.
That being said, spreading our practices out early, I kind of enjoy. Today would be a starting date, October 15th, and we've been at it for a couple of weeks already. We're taking more days off today. We have a day off today. We'll take Sunday off again. We're taking a lot more days off than we traditionally did when we started later.
You know, I'm not sure. I think the guys like playing the games. I think if you said we'd go from 31 to 39 games and cut practice a little bit, they'd jump on board with that pretty quick, as long as it doesn't bother them too much. The only bad time we really have is that Christmas break where you'd like to let them spend more time home with their families. We always take Christmas off. I think this year we have four days. But you'd like to give them a little more time there to spend with their families.

Q. Elgin, can you talk about through a couple weeks of practice what you've seen with having more guys back this year plus the addition of the new guys?
ELGIN COOK: Yeah, I think since we have more returners, we kind of know what to expect, how to come into practice and what we need to be doing, what we need to accomplish, and it's a lot more intense. All our guys are competing, and we just know how important every practice is.

Q. People know Oregon for their football program or their basketball program. Can you talk about how the sport of basketball has grown on the campus and the excitement that has grown in relation to football?
DANA ALTMAN: Well, we've been overshadowed, and rightfully so, our football team has been great. I've been there five years, we've played for the national title twice.
Our basketball program will grow. You know, we've got to raise expectations. You know, we've been to the tournament three years in a row, and we want to try to continue that.
Our fans have been good to us. We've got to get better, and I think all our sports can feed off each other. Football has been good. Our track has been off the charts, baseball, softball, volleyball. We've got a complete athletic department.
I think all of us feed off each other, but definitely football is what makes it go for us, and we're happy when those guys are playing well, and it means a lot to our University, means a lot to our athletic department.
But for our basketball program, we just have to do our part. We have to grow. We have to play an exciting brand of basketball. We have to win. We've got to continue to get better. So we have challenges in front of us, but it's our job‑‑ we have the resources. We have the facilities. We need to continue to get better.

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