Trent Johnson talked to us Monday about the defensive challenge you would have against Nick Young. He was 4-of-12 in the first half, and he looked dead-dog tired by the end. What were you doing against him that was successful tonight, and also more successful than your defensive performances in some recent games?
"I think it just comes down to preparation. I haven't had much experience at the 'three' and guarding guys like that, so I think about it too much and put myself down. All week, we've been working on it with Coach [Nick] Robinson simulating him. You just get prepared for one-on-one, and that's mostly what they do. I guess I could say I was prepared."
What did you do either through body positioning or physically to defend Nick Young?
"A lot of it was just making him take tough shots, and when he wants to go to the basket, Coach J calls it 'point of attack' - get an angle of recovery. I know he beat me, so now I'm going to move my foot and cut him off five feet past instead of following him. When I do that, it forces him to change what he was trying to do, which was get to the basket."
Was that the best first half defensively you guys have played all season?
"I think so. I remember going into half saying, 'If we hold them to 20 more, we will win because we only need four more to get to 41.' Yeah, and I think it's great to do that to the second-best defense in the nation, too. Come out and play our defense, and play the way we should play every game."
What was it like for you to be on the same floor as Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez, intimidating and destroying everything inside that USC was doing? Not just the blocks, but everything they made them miss.
"I think it helped our guards, myself included, to worry about our man more. We can go out and guard our man knowing that we would get help. Knowing that if we would stop and make them take a tough shot, we would succeed because a lot of times when a team has a good low post presence, they control the tempo and get you in foul trouble. They made it a lot easier on us."
You said up in Corvallis that this was make-or-break stretch. How do you feel now?
"It definitely makes it a lot easier now. Going into UCLA, that game is huge. We have to take this one, put it in our pocket and bring it out later. Hopefully these two will help get us in the Tournament a lot better than splitting."
Is the goal the NCAA Tournament?
"It always is, but right now the first goal is the next game. They're our target, and we'll hopefully get 20 blocks against them."
What did you think of Brook Lopez' game, and what have you seen from him physically that is leading to this kind of performance?
"Coach J says a lot that, whether you're hurt or not, being out for almost six months changes how you play and how you feel in a game. You can see in every game, he comes out and is being more composed. Double-teams aren't affecting him as much. And you see our deficiencies on the entry passes more than him when he gets the ball. He's just becoming a better post player, like his brother. They're both just getting better and better every game due to experience and getting healthy."
Any comment on his complete performance?
"I'm glad he's really humble about it, too. I've been in the past with guys who come out and play a great game like that, and then you see them starting to think that they're great. But he comes out and thanks us for helping him to do that. I love that about him."
How would you rank this against other Stanford performances this year?
"The last win is always the best. As long as our last game is always a win, then it's our number one performance. Only one team this year is going to end their season with a win this year - that's a champion. So that's always best."
What was the team mood going into the locker room after this game?
"Ecstatic. A lot of us were surprised because we know we can do it, and we finally did it. There are so many tough many games we've had in this past. Hopefully we can have this confidence going into Sunday."
Does this seem like forever ago that you guys had this homecourt curse?
"Not really. We still feel like we have to perform at a good level. We never really felt like it was being at home. It was just us playing our game."
What would it mean to beat UCLA?
"A lot of people are going to say that a split is good for us now, being in our situation, but we don't want that. We know that if we come away with a win against UCLA, that puts us in a better position and makes the conference a lot tougher on other teams and easier on us."
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