2003 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament Gets Under Way in L.A.

March 12, 2003

Press Conference
Wednesday, March 12, 2003



Re: Team's success
'We're happy to be here, there's no question about it. For Oregon State University to achieve a 6th place seed in the Pac-10 tournament, Oregon State hasn't finished that high in 10 years. Guys put forth a lot of effort. It's real exciting for our seniors, certainly my seniors have been through an awful lot and to be rewarded by having a chance to be a part of the Pac-10 Tournament is a great experience for them. They've earned a 6th-place seed and we've come down with the same hopes and aspirations as anybody else: Play as well as you can and go as hard as you can and whatever happens, happens. Certainly we're excited to be here.'

Re: Mindset of seniors versus underclassmen
'I never really know what the underclassmen are thinking. You always tend to rely on your seniors because they're the ones that generally have the greatest sense of urgency and actually can map things out a little bit more clear because every game that's played, the clock ticks down. Their leadership and their energy level generally takes the other guys with them. They weren't a part of this last year; they were a part of turmoil. This is icing on the cake. We've taken an approach all year long that you set daily goals and go try to reach them. We're not trying to bite off more than we can chew in terms of being in a dream-world, but we're trying to compete as hard as we can and do as well as we can every day.'

Re: Oregon State's two games versus California in 2003
'They shot the ball so unbelievably well against us in both games. In both games, they averaged over a point per possession, and not very many teams did that against us all year. By halftime we were staring up at a deficit. They are also the only team we really didn't start well against in the second half either game. They read the defense so well that if you make a mistake going toward [Amit] Tamir or [Joe] Shipp or [Brian] Wethers, they counter with a pass going to somebody else. Offensively, they spread you real well and it's difficult. We've just got to do a better job of not letting them have so many open shots early in the possession.'

Re: California's Amit Tamir
'I think if you could talk to any head coach that came up here and sat all day long that they would say that Tamir is a matchup problem for all of us. He's basically a 6'11' 2-guard and in the past five games he's their leading assist man. He can shoot it at 26 feet and I had to watch about seven of them in our gym the last time we played. He's pretty difficult. He's a good player.'

Re: Oregon State's position in the conference
'After we had the sweep down here in Southern California, we were in a position where we were looking upward, not just trying to sneak in. We were trying to get a solid sixth-place. There were three Pac-10 games that I think we should have won and we didn't win. To me, that would put us at 9-9 and with a whole lot of other options. I don't know that we were ever looking at it as just trying to squeeze in.'


Re: Importance of winning the first game
'We certainly tried to create the urgency that is there, obviously, where we need to win the first game. Our focus is just on that and not trying to do it to speculate one way or another. But we understand how important it is. The key is not to worry about all that stuff you hear and just focus on the contest and the battle. It's just important that we win this first game and then we can hopefully turn our sights to winning this tournament.'

Re: Impressions of Arizona State'Very athletic. (Ike) Diogu has really made a huge difference for them. He is a very, very good basketball player. He gives them such a strong low-post presence that it gives them a great sense of confidence all over the floor when you've got a go to guy sitting on the block. They've done a very good job this year.'

Re: Benefit to recently playing Arizona State
'There certainly is a benefit to playing them (recently). You don't have to have as much preparation time. Basically you know exactly what they're going to do and they know what we're going to do and you just have to show up and play.'

Re: Importance of this game for Oregon
'With the magnitude of this game and being on center stage and in this environment here, this becomes a big game for us now. Whether or not this will be the biggest game depends on what happens in the game. If we win the game, and they say it was the game that got us in the tournament. If we lose the game and still get in the tournament then it takes the significance away from it. So I just won't know until we get the game behind us and hopefully with a victory.'

Re: Experience in a high-pressure tournament environment
'In this environment where it's a one and done environment, certainly we have some guys that have been in that last year and particularly handle the pressure of that, particularly in a close ball game.'

Re: Oregon's status amongst 'bubble teams' around the nation
'We don't have any control over anything else right now. So to speculate, to worry about it, to research it, it doesn't do any good because it only takes away from any focus or the preparation that we're going to need to get this done tomorrow.'


Re: Participating in the Pac-10 Tournament
'We're really pleased to be in this position to compete for the Pac-10 Tournament title in the second year of reinstating it. I think our basketball team right now is playing at a high level, so we're excited for tomorrow's basketball game.'

Re: Sense of urgency in tournament format
'It's a tournament, it's one and done, and any kind of tournament that you participate in, so from that standpoint certainly if you want to continue to play in this tournament, then you need to have a high sense of urgency and we certainly feel that way. We've felt that way all year long towards every game, our sense of urgency is that we wanted to win every basketball game, whichever one that was, we had to be prepared to play because we played a very difficult schedule this year.'

Re: Facing Oregon after having played the Ducks last week
'It's good and bad. I think that it's good because you spend time scouting each other, so you know quite a bit about each other; your familiarity is fresh. And it's bad because familiarity is fresh and you know a lot about each other. So it's good and bad. Bottom line is that you have to go out, you have to play the game, and you have to compete. Both times that we've played Oregon, they've been really good basketball games, both of them could have gone either way. We won one and they won one. It should be a great college basketball game tomorrow.'

Re: Being 'on the bubble' for the NCAA Tournament
'The way we combat anything like that is, again, we just worry about the next basketball game. I've been around this game long enough to know that nobody knows about bubbles. When I was at Mississippi, we had won 20 ballgames and they said that we were on the bubble. We had won the Western Division. Vanderbilt was third in the East and they said they were in. We beat them in the [SEC] tournament; they said they were in and we were still on the bubble. We ended up being a five seed. Nobody knows, everybody will know Sunday. Our thing is is that, Tommy [Smith] will tell you, our total focus is on the next hurdle and Oregon is the next hurdle. As far as combating that, we just focus on the next basketball game, we don't focus on something down the line.'


Re: Value of Conference Tournament
'I think you have to view this as a separate entity. These kids are basketball players. They want to play. They want to compete and here's just another opportunity to come out and win some games, and that's how you've got to view it.'

Re: First round matchup against USC
'SC is a tough draw for us because we had a tough two games with them. Now we won both of those games, but we were down in the second half late against SC here. We had to battle hard in both games. It will be a really tough game. You can look at the psychology of the tournament and figure that SC has once chance to get to the NCAA Tournament and that is to win in this tournament. So they are going to come out with a lot of fire and a lot of reason to play hard. Hopefully we will have that same thing and it will take that for us to win.'

Re: Team attitude'I think they're attitude's fine and they're excited about playing, excited about being here and excited about what we got done this year and I think they're looking forward to playing.'

Re: Preparation for USC's team athleticism
'If you start worrying about certain individuals then you've got problems. They didn't play Dupree against us last time we played. It's a hard thing to prepare for. They've moved things around a bit. Dupree now will probably play a lot more of the four position, and we have not seen him in that spot before. That changes the way they play. It makes them smaller. It makes them much quicker. It makes them much more athletic. We've tried to prepare for the things they do. We can't prepare in practice with our lineup, with our kids for their quickness, for their quickness off the floor, for their athleticism. That's just going to have to be adjusted to when the game starts.'

Re: Mindset of playing in a single elimination tournament
'We're coming in here to play in a tournament just like the NCAA Tournament. If you lose you're out. If you win you live to play another day and we're going to approach it that way.'


Re: Facing Arizona
'I think we've faced the same challenge that every team has found this year when playing the Wildcats. They can beat you in so many different ways. I think the most important aspect of the game if you're going to have any success against them is trying to keep them out of transition. Transition defense is really set up by the way you execute offensively, so if you can put touches on the ball, get high percentage looks at the basket, get yourself to the foul line, then that goes a long way towards building your transition defense. What they prey on is quick shots and turnovers, what we call in-between shots. That's going to be the key. We've got to do a much better job than we did the first two times we played them. We shot the ball too quickly, we turned it over, and we shot in-between shots; in other words they weren't transition opportunities where we had an advantage and we hadn't put many touches on the ball.'

Re: Does Arizona have a lack of motivation?
'I don't think there's a distinct advantage based on the season we've had or the season they've had coming into the tournament. They're deservedly the number one team in the country. We've struggled all year but we are playing the best basketball of the season late. We've won three out of four games, which, for us, that means we're on a roll because we've really struggled this year, obviously. For the first time all season we actually managed to win three out of four games, so I think our kids feel good about the way they're playing, even though it's been a long, long season.'


Re: Mindset going into first round matchup versus Stanford
'In my mindset there is no tomorrow. You're season's on the line. It's a one game season. That's what it is and you have to play your best game. You have to minimize your mistakes and play your best game.'

Re: Chances for an upset
'We've been in a lot of basketball games this year so I'm very optimistic that we've got a shot. Everyone in this tournament has a shot to win. There have been some upsets throughout the country and we're coming in ready to play tomorrow.'

Re: Decision on the starting lineup
'I haven't decided on the starting lineup. I've gone back and forth in practice over the last three days between (Gregg) Guenther, Jerry (Dupree), (Rory) O'Neill and Nick Curtis and possibly Costas. I know they're a very big and physical team, so Costas fits into the game and has a good shot of being in the lineup just because of that.'

Re: Need for defensive and rebounding against Stanford
'They are so physical inside. They're big. They're athletic. Childress is really very athletic at the three and we don't really have anyone to match up with him at that size. So, they dominated us the last game inside and they had a stellar game at our place last time. I think that it's imperative that we think about boxing out. We've been doing more of that this week, boxing out and playing tougher man-to-man defense. That's kind of been our Achilles Heel this year - has been the defense giving up easy baskets and not rebounding the basketball.'

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