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March 18, 2016

Dana Altman

Casey Benson

Dillon Brooks

Spokane, Washington

Oregon - 91, Holy Cross - 52

THE MODERATOR: We'll start with an opening statement from coach and then take questions for the student-athletes.

COACH ALTMAN: I thought our energy was pretty good early. With them having to come clear across the country, I just thought we came out and set the tone early and never really let them get into the game. That's a tribute to the guys for getting themselves ready and focused and ready to play right from the start.


Q. We'll start with Dillon. There's a lot always said about 16-1 matchup and Holy Cross came in here by making three straight upsets. Did that enter your mind or did you just get the ball and go?
DILLON BROOKS: Holy Cross is a great team. Like you said, they came out on the road and won three straight. They're coached by a great coach. I was kind of scared, to be honest. We have been making a lot of history in Oregon, but I didn't want to make that kind of history. First 16 seed to beat a 1 seed.

But we really just came out there and just delivered the game plan that coach Altman had and just really just out worked them and just really took it to them. They only played like seven guys, so we know if we just keep running and just kept attacking the boards, they will wear out.

Q. That's what I want to follow-up on, was the boards. You had 44-28 advantage on the boards. How much during the week leading up to the game did Coach Altman preach to you that you will have to own the boards?
DILLON BROOKS: Oh, yeah, he always preaches that. When you only get two boards, he's on you. If you get under your average, he's on you. And that goes with anybody. Casey, he had a bad performance on the boards, but we just go out there and just really try to out rebound teams and that's how we win games.

Q. Sorry about your bad performance on the boards there Casey, but despite that, could you talk a little bit about Chris Boucher's performance, both you guys, actually, just he was wowing the crowd, he was pretty good tonight.
CASEY BENSON: No, Chris was extremely active tonight. Flying all over the place. We come to expect that from him. With his long arms and just his activity, he's a guy who can get so much done in such a little bit of amount of time. He played 17 minutes and he had 20. So he does a really good job just flying around, being active, bringing a ton of energy on both ends of the floor.

DILLON BROOKS: Chris, he's a great player who came along getting better over the season and that's what we expect from him every day. Blocking shots, hitting that corner three, and then rebounding the basketball the way he did. He had a great game, and we were just looking for him on that bottom, especially I was. Every time he calls for it, I just throw it up there and let him go get it. And that contributes to his hard work in the off season, especially.

Q. How long do you enjoy this one before you start thinking about St. Joe's or Cincinnati?
CASEY BENSON: We're thinking about that right now. We're going to go watch the game, obviously. Just get ready to go. We know this one's over, so the next one is the most important one, obviously, so just got to take it one game at a time and come out ready to go with the same focus, the same intensity. We know either team is going to be a really tough game, so just got to be focused and get ready.

DILLON BROOKS: We just celebrated right after the game, and then we're just focused and keying in to whoever wins this matchup out of St. Joe's and Cincinnati. That's out of our hands. Now we got to move on to the next game and really focus and bring the same intensity that we did into this game.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you. Take questions for coach.

Q. You talked about the start, but is that when the game like this, the key we saw Michigan State today fall down 15-2 and a hole they couldn't get out of. Just to kind of get a lead where the other team doesn't get a lot of confidence.
COACH ALTMAN: We thought so. We thought if we could get off on the right foot, and we had a lot of guys with Dillon with five assists, and Elgin with four. I thought their ball movement and penetration kicks and Dillon throwing it up to Chris really got him going. So I thought that the first four minutes was important. I think it was 7-2. We were shooting free throws out of the timeout, and we had gotten to the offensive boards and set a tone there.

So, I thought our tone defensively was good, our tone on the boards was good, so I really liked the first four minute segment.

Q. What has clicked for this team defensively? Rebounding the last few games, if you look back at the conference tournament, you guys have really excelled there, especially in the first part of the game when you guys are able to create that kind of lead?
COACH ALTMAN: Well eight of the last nine games we have been good on the boards, with the exception of the Arizona game. So, I think it's something that our guys have focused in a little bit more.

Defensively, I think our activity is much better than it was earlier in the season.

Our communication is improved some. So, fundamentally I think we have just gotten a little bit better. But, obviously, moving forward, it's got to be every time now. You let down just a little bit and your season can be over. So, hopefully we'll keep that same focus, that same intensity Sunday.

Q. A little off topic. Obviously, you guys were dominant today. Utah was dominant in their first round game as well, but all the other PAC-12 teams lost, and they're all favored. What, if anything, do you think that reflects?
COACH ALTMAN: Not sure they were all favored, but --

Q. Higher seeded at least.
COACH ALTMAN: They were all in position, they missed some free throws. Cal had some bad luck this week. It just wasn't good first weekend for our conference, I will admit that.

Free throws hurt a couple of the ball teams. But it's one of those things, you go in, and we did have a great conference year. Nobody's going to take anything away from that. But if you don't perform in the tournament, then it gives you opportunity for people to attack your league. Unfortunately, that's happened.

So, and the same will be true if Utah and us don't advance. We know that. It's just reality of it. That's fine. That's fine. We're in this position. We would much rather be in this position than any other, so we just got to go make it work. We got to play, I sure hope Utah plays, and we both just kind of make it work.

Q. Talking with Dillon and Jordan, they said they both watched the Michigan State game today and it was really one of those moments where it really kind of hit them really in March any team can lose. Did you touch on that at all today in your pregame message?
COACH ALTMAN: We didn't. Our guys have been watching the games. That's one of the advantages of playing late. It's tough, because you watch everybody else play and it seems like it takes forever to get to your game.

But I heard them talking yesterday, when a couple of 12s upset 5s and when we got together today, I didn't have to say anything. I just kind of listened to them and that's guys taking ownership in their team, which you really like as a coach. I didn't have to say anything to them. I heard them talking about it. I think it's much more effective if they're talking about it and it's something on their mind. If there's something that's obvious that they're missing, we'll talk about it. But I really like it when the guys kind of talking to each other about, man, did you see that? And, we got to get ready. That's much more effective than me trying to convince them that something's important.

Q. Have you had a chance to look at Cincinnati or St. Joseph's at all?
COACH ALTMAN: I have not. We had some coaches do some work on them. But I have not. I'll start tonight, get back to the hotel, and watch this game. And then our film man's already got my iPad loaded up with both teams, and we'll go work on whichever team we're fortunate enough to play. But, I have not. Couple of the coaches have worked on Cincinnati. A couple of them have started work on St. Joe's. But I don't do that until we're done with one opponent.

So we'll get focused tonight, and we'll have tomorrow. We don't practice -- I think we practice at 1, so we'll have plenty of time to talk and get a game plan in and break down some film and be ready to go.

Q. You're talking about film study. When you looked at Holy Cross, and what you planned, did it come out as you planned? Did you see holes in that 1-3-1 or how did tonight come through from what you had scouted?
COACH ALTMAN: There were two things. We thought we really needed to flatten their 1-3-1 out. I didn't think the previous teams did a very good job of getting the ball to the baseline and attacking from the baseline. They tried to attack too much outside. So we tried to get it flattened out a little bit more.

Elgin and Dillon did a really good job of driving that thing from the baseline and throwing it up to Chris underneath. Dillon with five assists and no turnovers, those were all penetration, up at the basket. We wanted to push it, we didn't want to play at their pace. And I thought that we got some early run outs, which really helped us.

Then the last thing, we thought we could beat them on the boards, just because of our athleticism and the fact that we had been rebounding the ball well. So, our guys in those three areas I thought did a good job. We only turned it over seven times, which we were worried about that and just guys getting lazy with passes. But for the most part we did a pretty good job.

Q. How much do you attribute Elgin Cook playing maybe his best basketball to you guys playing your best basketball of the year?
COACH ALTMAN: Well, Elgin had a real disappointing road trip to Cal and Stanford. Since then, he's been unbelievable. He's been so good, everything's team, and our championship game against Utah, he had six assists. Tonight, four assists, one turnover. Six shots. All he was worried about was making plays. He had a double double, 13 rebounds. So, Elgin's playing great. That's one of those things we're really going to miss him. For three years he's been a big part of our team and just watching his progression is fun as a coach. Because you hope your guys get better and take one more of a bigger role every year and, man, he's done a tremendous job for us.

Q. Is this kind of what you envisioned when you recruited him three years ago that he would be playing like this in your system?
COACH ALTMAN: Well, we hoped. You never know what path a young man is going to take, but we were really pleased with his athleticism when we recruited him. I thought he was a good competitor. I thought he wanted to get better. You take that athleticism with a young man attitude who wants to get better and is a fighter, someone who will compete, and they got a chance to get pretty good. Some recruiting you miss on a guy, but if you've got someone who will compete and wants to get better, they got a chance. And Elgin fits that mold. You add the athleticism that he has and it's really exciting to see the progression that he's made.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

COACH ALTMAN: All right.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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