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March 22, 2019

Dana Altman

Paul White

Louis King

San Jose, California

Oregon - 72, Wisconsin - 54

MODERATOR: Okay. We welcome Oregon to the dais. We'll have Coach Altman, Louis King, and Paul White will join us here.

Coach Altman, we'll have you give an opening statement. Then we'll open it up to questions to the student-athletes, excuse them, and then you can take questions after that. So we'll hand the floor over to you.

DANA ALTMAN: I thought we had a really good second half. I thought our guys played really hard defensively on both halves. We really got the ball moving. Paul got into it offensively. Lou had a big second half offensively. Payton did a great job of distributing the ball and making plays for guys.

So just an overall team effort that I thought was really good. And that second half, Kenny's defense really made guys think about going in the paint. And I thought that was a big, big part of what we were trying to do.

MODERATOR: Okay. We'll open it to questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Dana, it looked like from the very beginning that Payton had his way to drive. Was that a conscious effort by you to exploit those driving lanes and get to the hole?
DANA ALTMAN: No. We felt like we could penetrate with Lou. We ran some things for Lou to try to get him to the basket. But Payton was aggressive. He got the ball up in the air to Kenny a couple of times, made a couple plays in there.

But it wasn't like our game plan, no. I think Payton realized early that he was able to get in there. He did have some turnovers with it, but I thought his aggressiveness, both offensively and defensively, was good for us.

Q. Lou, have you been in this situation before, it looked like where you were fighting through some pain, maybe, and can you remember a situation in other big games, and how did you do that?
LOUIS KING: I could go back to the Arizona State game in the Pac-12 Tournament. You know, I just kept fighting through it. I know that we needed that win. And fighting adversity and missing shots, and I felt like playing defense was just going to get us the win.

Q. Paul, you struggled in the first -- or, actually, you didn't put any shots up. I think you were 0 for 2 in the first half. Did you come out expecting to try more offense in the second half? Was that something, since you were scoreless in the first half?
PAUL WHITE: I mean, me personally, I'm not someone that's going to force anything. I think the coaches, they were just telling me to just stick with it, things were going to open up eventually. Me having two fouls in the first half kind of crippled me as well because they're a team that's very good at taking offensive fouls or charges.

I think second half, with a lot of the penetration, late shot clock situations, I just saw some things that were open, and I just decided to exploit it.

Q. How did a team like this go from losing horrifically to USC to now running off with nine straight wins and beating a 5 seed by 18 points?
PAUL WHITE: I think, well, for starters, you know, that game against USC, it really didn't embody who we are as a team. I think after that game, that's when we really start to reward the people, such as like Francis Okoro, who have had a very positive spirit. And I think that change has been very big for us, and everybody has kind of fell in line with that.

So I think everybody is fine with how this team has shaped up now, and I think we're -- like I said before, we're playing the best basketball of our entire year now.

LOUIS KING: I would say the same thing as him. Like Francis and Ehab Amin coming off the bench and exploding into the defensive role they needed to and playing big minutes for us.

Q. For both of you, you turned a team that averages about nine and a half turnovers a game to, what was it, 15. Defense has been big the last nine games, but especially today in the second half. Talk to me about that.
LOUIS KING: In the first half, we lapsed on some of the open shots. We didn't contest and get out on the open shooters. We went into the locker room, we talked about it, came out the second half ready to roll.

PAUL WHITE: Yeah, I think coming out in the second half, I mean, I'm not sure what were the turnovers we each had, but I know it was big for us going into the game that we get deflections. They're a very good team, especially Ethan Happ who's able to see over defenses and kind of exploit some of the mismatches.

So I think for this game we just wanted people to -- we wanted them to think twice about making an easy pass or kind of cut off some of those lanes, and I think it kind of turned out well for us.

Q. You just touched on it, but did you kind of sense it was kind of like the Washington game, close at the first half and a chance to break out? And what was the message from Coach at the end of the first half when it was so close?
LOUIS KING: It was a tie game at the end of the half. You know, he said we're playing the best basketball we've played. And we didn't want it to get any higher than it was, and coming out in the second half we knew we had 'em.

PAUL WHITE: Yeah, we talked about the Washington game at halftime. We said we've been in this position before. So we had a very big spark with Kenny being the defensive threat that he is in that second half, and I think that really set the tone.

Q. For both you guys. I'll start with Lou. Good interior defense on Happ. I think you had two or three blocks there late in the second half where he tried to wheel inside. Huge part of your game is rim protection. Did you sense that in that second half that they were being frustrated when they would go to the goal?
LOUIS KING: You know, Ethan, he's a good post player, so, you know, he likes to go baseline. We read that from the first half, and leading over to the second half we didn't want that to keep on happening. So we obviously read him, and he turned the ball over multiple times.

PAUL WHITE: I think one thing that we talked about was the moves that he was making whenever he would sense maybe a second defender coming his way. We did see that he loved the baseline. So we tried to take that away and kind of forced him to make a play, either for others or kind of just shoot over someone.

And I think Kenny did a great job of timing, timing whenever he was going to go up. And, you know, as a player, when you have somebody that athletic that you're facing, you think twice about certain shots that you take, certain passes that you make. So I think that second half we kind of planted that bug in his head, if -- I mean, and, you know, like I said, he's a great player. But I think we did a good job team-wise defensively.

MODERATOR: Okay. We'll excuse Louis and Paul, and we'll turn it over to Coach Altman for questions.

Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about the defense that you folks put on Happ? He had 12 and 8 or something like that, well below his averages. The players talked about keeping him from going to the baseline, but what was the plan going in?
DANA ALTMAN: Well, anytime we had an opportunity to double him, we wanted to. You know, he's probably best as a play maker. The thing that I'm probably most happy is he didn't have the five assists that he averages. You know, zero assists and five turnovers. So he's a phenomenal passer in there, and you know, we wanted to make sure that when we did double him, our hands were high, that he couldn't get it out of the double easy. We made some mistakes on him a couple of times where we didn't rotate over.

But for the most part, I thought our guys really were aware of him. And then Kenny got a couple of his shots, and I think that helped us, put a thought in his mind. So just a really talented young man that averages 17 and 10 and 5 assists, and we were able to hold him under all those numbers today.

And I thought Kenny was a big part of that, but I thought our guys, just their awareness of where he was was a big factor.

Q. How has Payton's leadership sort of led you guys during this run you're on right now?
DANA ALTMAN: Man, he's been phenomenal. I mean, he went through a stretch there where he struggled a little bit. Man, he's -- he's been unbelievable. His aggressiveness, offensively and defensively, his leadership, toughness. He's just -- he's been on another level here.

And so really happy for him. Like I said, he went through the struggles like we all did during the year. But, man, is he playing some basketball. That was a heck of an effort. Like I said, if he'd have got a couple of those passes up a little bit more, out of his hands a little quicker and cut down his turnovers, you know, I couldn't have bitched about anything. He played that good.

So, again, we've made a big jump because of him, and then just the cohesiveness of the group. And, man, it's been so much fun coaching them this last month, and just because they're all in and they're all trying to help the team.

Q. Coach, you guys were on absolute fire in the second half, 17 for 24 from the field, 5 of 6 from the three. How much of a momentum does that give you heading into Sunday's game against UC Irvine who kind of had to struggle in their game?
DANA ALTMAN: It's a different game. We'll put this one to bed really quick, get to work tonight on Irvine.

I told our guys don't look at numbers. That's one thing about seeds, people look at numbers, and, man, you can't do that. They've won, what, 31 games. Haven't lost forever. I don't care -- you know, and that's -- so they beat a good Kansas State team, a team that we scrimmaged in the fall. We know how good Kansas State is, how athletic they are. So we know we're going to have to play.

And our guys, I told them enjoy this one until we get on the bus and leave the building, and then we gotta start thinking about Saturday. And fortunately our league plays that Thursday, Saturday. We're used to one day off, so hopefully our guys will get the recovery and bounce back quickly.

Q. Have you ever had a team flip the switch like this this late in the season? Was there anything to suggest it was coming?
DANA ALTMAN: No and no. I'm really surprised. I'm happy for the guys, and I am very proud of them. But I am surprised. We just -- we could never get on the same page, and I kept telling them we got none of this, guys (indicating). And they didn't have that between themselves. You know, we just weren't on the same page. And how quickly it changed.

You know, I'm just happy for the guys because, you know, we started October 1, you know, we're coming up on April 1. That's six months, and when you go through some frustration of injuries and losing guys and guys -- Kenny breaks his jaw. Paul's got a bad ankle. Lou's recovering from knee surgery the first ten games. We lose Bol. There's a lot of frustration. Guys want to play. And nothing clicked. And, boy, I blew a couple of games during the year, you know, where I just -- because I wasn't connected with the guys. I didn't know what to do, and I blew the games, and I told them that.

So, you know, to see them come like this and have so much fun, you know, that's -- you know, that's why we coach, just to see guys get together and have fun and play their tails off, and that's what they're doing right now.

Q. That was actually my question. But I was going to ask, are you even amazed more so now that they've strung out nine wins and the way that they've elevated their game from back then to where they are now? Does that even amaze you? You've been in the coaching game for so long.
DANA ALTMAN: Well, it's just great to see guys playing to their strengths, you know, Kenny blocking shots and getting some big rebounds, Paul making simple plays. I mentioned Payton. Lou, big shot after big shot tonight. You know, I mean he squared up on those threes. Every one of them was on balance. His footwork was unbelievable.

So to see guys playing at that high level, you know, Will had a couple of turnovers the first half, but, man, his second half, he stuck his nose in there and got some rebounds. So when you see guys playing at a high level for themselves, that's always good.

We live in a track community, and when guys are running at their best and getting personal bests, and I think our guys are doing what they do best. And hopefully we can keep playing. But Kenny maximized his game, 4 for 5 from the field, four big blocks, six rebounds, one assist, no turnovers. As I mentioned, Lou, 3 for 3 from three, and all three of them were great balance shots, just shot it like he meant it. Paul's second half, didn't miss a shot and goes 5 for 5, I think.

So, no, and like I said, Will, Payton, good job. Ehab, he's given us some defense. He got a little carried away with himself offensively. But I like our guys, and we're going to need Victor and Miles to stay ready because it's a long tournament.

Foul trouble, I thought we may get in a little foul trouble today. Payton picks up two in the first half, Paul has two in the first half. We had a little foul trouble there, and guys -- you know, you're in the tournament, gotta play with it. You know, we're going to play with it, you know. So really happy for the guys.

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