University of Arizona head coach Lute Olson
Press Conference - 1/11/2000 - Pre-Washington State/Washington
On the loss of Richard Jefferson:
"There is really no way to know about Richard, when he is going to come back. The best guess is that it will take six weeks before he can begin any weight-bearing activities. Then, once he is able to put weight on it, it is going to take some time to get game ready. An educated guess is that it will take eight weeks, but we just can't count on that happening.
"Luke Walton is going to move into the starting lineup. I think some forget how well he played in the second half against Cal. We put him in the game and left Richard on the bench for the last six or eight minutes of the game because of how well Luke was playing at the time. Ricky (Anderson) is going to be coming off the bench as a wing reserve, and Justin Wessel is going to see some time as a wing reserve, in addition to his work in the post.
"In practice situations, Gene (Edgerson) is going to be with us on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when we are at home. We are going to use Ricky and Justin on the scout team at times, and them allow them to work with the regulars at times, too.
"This situation is not unique to us. Washington State has had some injury problems, and UCLA has had a lot of tendinitis-like problems that have contributed to low numbers in practice. Through the years, we have been fortunate enough to be able to make adjustments and fill in. It is not like we can't make adjustments now, though. We are just going to have to do what is necessary.
"Two wins on the road are big for us, just like two wins on the road were good for USC at the Washington schools last week. It is very difficult to win two on the road in this conference, and to get started like we did is really big. There are not gimmies at home, either. Our wins on the road could easily be negated if we don't play as hard as we can at home on Thursday. It is an 18-game schedule, and every game counts the same in the win-loss columns.
"In reviewing the tape of the Stanford game, I think that we played about as well defensively in the second half as we have played. Our second half offensive execution has been about as good as we have played to this point. We had good ball movement and good player movement. Our defensive job at Cal in the second half was superb, too.
On the defensive effort:
"A big part of it is the job that Loren Woods has done inside. He is blocking three or four shots a game, but how many other shots a game does he alter. It is also because the quickness and effort of the perimeter players, and then you throw Loren in there as a backup. We haven't put many people on the line after fouling them on the drive. From day one, we have emphasized that we have a guy back there who can block the shots.
On Luke Walton:
"I think Luke played with a lot more confidence Saturday after the way that he played at Cal. Just playing more minutes is going to give him a lot more confidence, and I think that you are also going to see an improvement in his shooting. Both he and Ricky can shoot, and I think they are going to get a lot more confidence
On Washington State:
"I think there is always an adjustment for the guys when there is a change in coaches, but I think that the coaches are pretty much the same. They both run half-court styles and are pretty much defensive oriented coaches. They still play 4-out, 1-in, and that is going to create some match-up problems for us. (Chris) Crosby is an excellent three-point shooter, and he runs in the four-spot. (Mike) Bush is a three, but does not shoot the three as well, but is very aggressive off the dribble." University of Arizona player quotes -
Michael Wright -
"Richard (Jefferson) was a major part of this team, and with him gone I am finding myself doing a lot of things that I haven't done in the past. A lot of the guys are going to have to pick up the slack. I have to lead the team more on the court. We all just have to go out and continue to play hard, just like we did against Stanford.
"You never know when something like this is going to happen. As a team, though, you have to get out there and suck it up and go play. I am just going to do anything possible to help the team win.
On playing Washington State:
"I know that I am going to have to step-out and defend on the perimeter a little more than usual. (Chris) Crosby is a good 3-point shooter, so he is going to be a tough match-up. They are going to show some new things for me, not anything like what Stanford or Cal did. It is like defending a guard or a small forward, for the most part."
Ricky Anderson -
On getting more playing time with the loss of Jefferson: "It's funny, but I feel more relaxed now. This is a big opportunity for me to go in, but there is not as much pressure as there is coming off the bench in a normal situation at times.
"We have no depth at all right now. This is a long journey, though, and we are going to make it through. It is going to be good for Luke (Walton) and me to get more playing time, and even for the Weasel (Justin Wessel). We are going to get a lot of quality playing time and play in front of some great crowds.
"I am going to have to adjust my mental side. Playing a lot more, it is going to be difficult physically, but mentally is where it is going to take the most adjustment. We are not used to playing this much, but we are going to be ready for it.
On playing with Walton:
"We are going to be fighting for a starting spot, and we are both going to go out and help the team as best we can. This is going to be wild, but it is going to be fun. It is great to play with Luke. At Stanford, I played the two and he was at the three, and things were really good. We talked so well and played together really well out there."
Luke Walton -
"I can tell a difference in my confidence from before the Cal and Stanford games and now. I know that I am going to have a bigger role, and I am ready for that. It is not that I am going to have to take more shots, I think that I am just going to get more looks and more decisions.
"This Thursday is going to be the first real test. Stanford just kind of happened because I came off the bench like I have been for a while. Now, I am a starter, and I am going to be preparing a little differently for that. We came together as a team up there, and now we are going to have to concentrate on working on some of the basics and things like that.
"This is what I always wanted to happen. Not for Richard to get hurt because he is such a great guy, but for me to get playing time like that. Richard is still going to help me a lot, giving me a lot of advice and things like that, even though he is not out there playing."