Head Coach Lute Olson- Weekly Press Conference
"First of all, I think we are getting better in the areas we are trying to focus on- taking care of the ball, getting more assists and doing a better job on the boards. I think the focus has been good for us with the players knowing what needs to be done. When one looks at the Pac-10 conference games only for statistical leaders, Arizona and Stanford are one and two in a lot of categories. Some interesting facts that would indicate that it should be a competitive game. There is no question Stanford is No. 1in the country.
"You take a look at the schedule that they have played and they only have one loss, it is a sign of how consistent they have been throughout the course of the season. So it (the game) will be a huge challenge for us but it is not the first time we have gone in there (Maple Pavilion) and played Stanford when they are ranked No. 1. Certainly we have great respect for them but we are not in awe of where they are. We know it will take our best effort but it will also take pretty close to their best effort."
On UCLA's win over Stanford earlier this season: "What they did the first time didn't work the second time. The first time they bothered them with pressure and the second time Stanford went through the pressure. Stanford did a good job of turning a negative into a positive. UCLA's quickness will bother a whole lot of people. It bothered us at Pauley (Pavilion). That particular day that was the best defensive effort I have seen out of UCLA in my 18 years here.
"The thing with Stanford this year over what has happened in the past is that in the past they were predictable. They ran their half court offense with great efficiency. Anytime you run a half court offense with great efficiency a lot of times that means there is great predictability. The thing that is difficult now as that they are doing things on their individual skills that has not been something you would see with Stanford in the past. In the past we could take away certain things that we knew they would do and make it tough on them. Now, they will do things that will make it more difficult to guard them."
"In the past, our quickness was the difference. They now have some pretty good quickness. Stanford is getting great play out of the guy who I think is the most improved player in the league in (point guard) Mike McDonald. He is putting up three point shooting numbers that are unbelievable.
"The Collins twins (Jason and Jarron) have been winners all their lives and that is obvious in how they play. They take up a lot of space and are more athletic than some of the big guys Stanford has had in the past. They create a whole lot more problems defensively then they have in the past because they are not nearly as predictable.
On senior center Loren Woods: "It is a tough match-up for Loren because both guys are physically very big. There is no question Loren has the quickness over both. But if it gets into a positioning why Loren will have a difficult time holding his position and the Collins' will not have a difficult time moving him. I would suggest he doesn't get into a wrestling match and move his feet. The one area Loren has been tremendously good at is defense. We talked about how good he was defensively last year because of his shot blocking but he is so much better defender then last year it is not even close. We use to keep him down by the basket area to block shots, this year we have him go outside and guard people on the perimeter like Oregon's (forward Brian) Bracey."
On reserves seniors Justin Wessel and Eugene Edgerson: "In looking back at our tapes from last year and the game earlier this season against Stanford, Justin Wessel was as big a factor as anybody. He did a great job for us. Both Justin and Gene are accustomed to big games so I am not the least bit worried. I know as soon as they come in they bring a lot of energy into the game. It isn't the case where we will change our substitution pattern. Stanford is a team with good depth."
"There is no question we will have to play as well as we can play. Playing the Thursday game with the kind of hype that it has, you worry about getting focused about getting ready for Saturday's game as soon as Thursday's game is done, win or lose."
On 1997 season-ending road trip to the Bay Area: "The main thing is we played as well as we played all year long. We played well enough to beat anyone on a neutral court. They were wars with great intensity."
"The important thing to us is we play well this weekend."