On Wednesday afternoon, Oregon head coach Dana Altman talked to reporters about a number of topics including the big game on Thursday at home vs. UCLA, Johnathan Loyd’s injury, Arik Armstead’s decision to leave the team and the challenges Bruins point guard Kyle Anderson poses for the UO defense. Here’s some of what he said: What do you think about UCLA? It seems like they have a lot of places they can go and a lot of things they can do. They sure do. Al eight guys that they have in their rotation can score.They present a lot of problems because of their skill level. They are versatile and they’re big. It’s going to be a tough challenge for us defensively. How has the morale been after the win? Really good. Johnny broke his nose yesterday in practice and he’s getting it straightened out tomorrow. I don’t know if he’s going to be able to go tomorrow. But the guys were really upbeat. If we have one guy who can bounce back and play, it’s him(Loyd). I’ve done this a long time. Johnny Loyd is a tough young man. In 33 teams that I’ve coached, he’s in the top five guys that I would say he would be there if he can.
Are you going to try to get a mask on him? Yeah. We’ll try get a mask on him. Everyone that I’ve had over the years, that’s just a pain the rear. Those things are hard to play with. So regardless, that will be tough on him. Do you think Artis will have to step in? He’s got to. We can play Jason at the point, we can play Joe at the point, but DA will have to carry a lot more load and play well.
Do you sense that getting a win takes a weight off these guys shoulders? For sure. You start off and the expectations grow and grow. We weren’t making the developments we needed to during the months of November and December and that’s my fault. When we took a little slide, it was a great weight on our players. Jason struggled a little bit once Pac-12 play started. Now, the last three or four games he’s shooting over 70 percent. What can you attribute to that? Well that’s just being healthy. He got banged up a little bit there. He was in an out of practice for a while. Jason is a competitor. He’s the quietest young man I’ve ever met but he’s a competitor. If he’s healthy, he is a good basketball player. In light of Arik Armstead leaving, how hard it is for football players who play so late in the season to transition into basketball? If our football team wasn’t any good it would be easier. Arik came in(to Altman’s office). We had a really good conversation. He wanted a bigger role. We had been practicing for months and he’d been with us three weeks. I understand every athlete wanting to compete and play but at this point in time, we couldn’t make a drastic change. He felt like he needed to focus on football and his studies, and I couldn’t talk him out of that. His future is in football and he needs to concentrate on that. I agree with his decision.
You’ve been here a few years now. What do you like about Oregon so far? I really like the people. Everyone has been great to us. I’ve been stuck in my office quite a bit. I haven’t been the most sociable person, but I really do like to get out. It was a change for us. We’ve spent for years takings transfers. We’ve constantly been trying to put a team together that can compete right away. As you know, I wasn’t Oregon’s first choice so I thought I needed to gain some credibility. We wanted to build a roster quickly and try to compete quickly. But I think we are getting things in place for the long haul. The support from the University has been great and the administration is trying to give us everything we need to compete. There are some other teams that have greater traditions than us but we are trying to change that. Are you interested to see how they respond tomorrow? Absolutely. UCLA is a team with great tradition. Fortunately, the last few times we’ve played, we’ve been fortunate enough to come out on top, but we know it’s going to be really tough. We’re going to have to play really well. Is Anderson a guy who you have to find a bunch of different ways to guard him? Oh boy, he is a unique player. You look at his stats in conference, he’s averaging 17 points, nine rebounds, almost seven assists, great basketball instincts, passes the ball well. He’s a very gifted player. He plays the point at 6’8″/6’9″ and we put 5’9″ on him. If you put a 6’4″ guy on him, he still sees over him. If you put a bigger guy on him, he works him outside.
Joseph Young is having a tough go of it shooting from the field since Pac-12 play started. Is there a common denominator to that? Joe is a good shooter. The other day against WSU he goes 2-7 from three and he had seven wide-open looks. I’m not a very good shooter and I could have hit two of them. I was joking with him after the game, Joe I could’ve hit two out of seven, just trying to lighten the mood. He puts a lot of pressure on himself. He wants to be a good shooter. He wants to be a good scorer. In Pac-12 play he’s not shot the ball well. It’s nothing to do with his work ethic. He’s just missed a few shots. That happens with good shooters. That happens with great shooters. Has Brandon Austin started practicing with you guys yet? Absolutely. He is really gifted. He can play either wing for us. He is bouncy, athletic, long, smiles a lot and doesn’t say much. He’s been a pleasure to work with. I hope he can get in that weight room and work on this body a little bit. He’s a very talented young man.