ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Oregon head coach Dana Altman says that if anyone has a problem with Dillon Brooks’ late-game shooting choices or celebrations, they should come to him.
Altman spoke up for his leading scorer Friday after Brooks’ celebration of his last-minute 3-pointer and a postgame conversation with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski drew almost more attention than the top-seeded Ducks advancing to the Elite Eight.
With Oregon up 79-68 in the final eight seconds of the NCAA West Region semifinal on Thursday, Brooks took a long 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring. He made it and apparently celebrated a little too hard for the Blue Devils’ liking, even attempting to goad Duke guard Grayson Allen into a celebration with him.
It became a controversy overnight, and the Ducks are failing to understand why.
“At the end of the game, there was a difference in the shot clock and the game clock,” Altman said. “I told Dillon to shoot it. So if anybody’s got a problem with it, it should be directed at me. He was acting on my orders. I told him to shoot it. I didn’t think he’d make it. It was a 30-footer, but there was a five-, six-second difference there.”
The cameras caught a postgame exchange between Krzyzewski, who appeared to say something to Brooks about the celebration.
“He just told me that I’m too good of a player to be showing out at the end,” Brooks said in the locker room following the game. “And he’s right. I’ve got to respect Duke.”
But Krzyzewski disputed Brooks’ account of the postgame message, appearing angry when it was brought up in the postgame press conference.
“I didn’t say that,” Krzyzewski said. “You can say whatever you want. Dillon Brooks is a hell of a player. I said, `You’re a terrific player.’ And you can take whatever he said and go with it, all right?”
Brooks expressed remorse Friday when he realized how much attention had been given to the inconsequential basket.
“Me and Coach K, that conversation should have stayed with us,” Brooks said. “But overall, me and Coach K are both professionals and I have to move on from this situation and focus on Oklahoma.”
Brooks doesn’t make any attempt to hide his fiery persona on the court. He acknowledges that his brash play occasionally is detrimental, but has learned to harness it into productive play for the most part.
Yet Brooks doesn’t plan to tone himself down in the West final against Oklahoma. He said he’ll bring the same energy that he’s brought all year.
“It’s been a hassle all of my life to figure out how to channel it and find ways to put it to great use,” Brooks said. “I feel like I’ve found a way and I have to bring it every day. I can’t pull it back because I’ve tried that already and it hasn’t worked to any good extent. I’ve just got to keep playing with emotion and live or die by it.”