Head Coach Lute Olson
Press Conference - 3/26/01 - Pre-Final Four
"We thrilled to have the opportunity to go to Minneapolis. It has been a primary goal all along of this team to make it there, and it has taken a lot of hard work and focus and concentration to have this happen. It looks like anyone there has an outstanding chance to win the whole thing, and we would certainly would like to put ourselves in that group, as well.
"The big thing, I think with our team, has been the balance. That is what has gotten us this far. The perfect example is last week, Gilbert (Arenas) had kind of a down game on Friday and then lit the place up on Sunday. Loren (Woods) had about 30 minutes that he would like to forget, but then he just dominated the last 10 minutes of the game on Sunday.
"Guys just seemed to be able to step it up when we need them the most. It is not a case of saying, if you stop this guy, you can beat them. We put the emphasis in this program on not having just one go-to guy. Our go-to guy is the guy who is open, and that is always the thing that we have look at in this program.
"The guys are playing great defense. If you look at the field goal percentages that we have allowed in the past couple of months, it is an amazing stat. Shooting percentages have been coming up because we have better ball movement and I think better shot selection. We have also been very good at the line when we need to be.
On Loren Woods' play:
"I think that Loren can get after it like he did in the last 10 minutes all of the time. I am hopeful that we have gotten over that hurdle, and hopefully, he has had the opportunity to see that on all phases of the game, shot blocks, rebounds and making himself available in the post.
"One thing that you can always count on when Gene (Edgerson) is in the game is that he is going to battle. He is always going to go after the ball, and he is going to defend. He wants to win, and he is not into only playing 10 or seven or 18 minutes. If I put him in, even if he is only in for two minutes, it is never coming out sulking. It is always a positive thing having him in there.
"When one thinks about how difficult it is to get there (the Final Four), and how so few coaches have had the opportunity to be in the Final Four, you thank your lucky stars that you have had the chance to get there. This will be our third on in the last eight years. I sometimes think of some of the guys who are outstanding coaches who never had the opportunity Marv Harshman and Ralph Miller, for example in our league. I am just fortunate to be in the situation I have been in.
On Jason Gardner and Gilbert Arenas:
"They have done a great job for us, and they are still only sophomores. It is sometimes hard for me to believe how mature and how much composure they have on the court in pressure situations. Another thing, when you look at in the Final Four, Jason Williams at Duke is a sophomore and Blake at Maryland is a sophomore. It gives you an idea that with point guards, you don't have to wait until they are juniors or seniors to perform.
On Michigan State:
"The biggest single problem when you play Michigan State is the job they do on the boards. They have almost 200 more offensive rebounds than their opponents. They do a great job on the defensive end, but that really comes down to shooting percentages. They are the best offensive rebounding team in the country. Illinois is a very good offensive rebounding team, but Michigan State is the best out there. They send four guys out there at the time, and you can't not have someone do their job and block out."