Head Coach Lute Olson- Season Review
April 17, 2001
On sophomore guard Jason Gardner:
"To say that (sophomore guard) Jason (Gardner) is coming out is a bit premature. I think he is going about it in a very logical way in determining what his status would be. He is in good standing with his classes and is continuing with that. I liken his situation to Damon Stoudamire's. He and Khalid (Reeves) were really close. Khalid was a senior. Damon stayed and ended being co-player of the year in the league (Pacific-10 Conference) and lead the conference in assists and scoring. I think that he would be the first to tell you that experience provided the impetuous to be the rookie of the year in the NBA the following year. I think that Jason's situation is one of where suddenly his friends are gone and may feel deserted. I think in the end logic will prevail and will be obvious to him that his interests would be served being back here. Of course that is his decision to make. He has the national reputation which means he will be one of the recipients of a great deal of media attention next year. He (Gardner) certainly will be one of our captains and will be a guy looked to for even more leadership than he what provided this year and I think that is a growing process anyway."
"(junior forward) Michael Wright had indicated right away in the fall that he was interested in testing the waters at the conclusion of the season. The only thing that I would be concerned about is that I hoped he would have continued with his classes, not retained an agent and truly tested the waters. Right now he is either or swim at this point."
"(junior forward Richard Jefferson) I had always felt that if he had a great year he would be going and I think that the kind of job he did in the NCAA Tournament put his position as a very strong one now in regards to where he would go in the draft."
"If you asked me if anyone would leave early it would be him (sophomore guard Gilbert Arenas). He is somebody that is going to be an outstanding pro. I do think he grew a lot from a maturation standpoint. I think he would gain a lot from an additional year but I certainly understand his position. To me it is not surprising."
On the program's outlook:
"If anyone is expecting doom and gloom you are not going to find it in this room. All I have to do is remind you of after the 1988 season when people were saying, Gee what is going to happen when (Craig) McMillan, (Steve) Kerr and (Tom) Tolbert gone?' Well the next year was a pretty good year- another Pac-10 title. Then of course it really happened when Sean Elliott, Anthony Cook and Kenny Lofton left. All the next group did was win the Pac-10 title again. We are going to be very young but it is going to be a fun group to work with. One of the things that our staff has done through the years is evaluate the people coming in not only for their skills but the type of kids they are. It will be fun for our fans to watch this team grow. It would mean a lot to have Jason back because it would give us stability at the point guard position but we will just have to see how that plays out."
On scholarship limitation:
"It is going to affect the top level programs. I personally am surprised that CBS did not scream their heads off. To not allow you to get to the maximum number of scholarships (13) is tough. To me it is idiotic that there isn't any appeal process. This rule was put into effect to curb coaches from running players off. I guess it is typical of the bureaucracy that all of us face in different areas that you don't have a common sense approach taken to correct wrongs. I think it is wrong to put the fault on the young men because I think they are faced with pretty good opportunities. The opportunities will be there but I think you have to face the injury factor. I think once a decision is made it is made and it should be laid to rest. I think the NCAA should take a very close look at a rule that should have never been put into place."
On an appeal:
"My understanding is it has been appealed in other cases and turned down. It should be set up to allow for legitimate cases like this one. Is this a case of us trying to run anybody out? No. I think this is a case of doing a pretty good job with the kids in the program and having them be able to realize one of their life goals."
On rumors that he would take a leave of absence:
"I have said all along that when I decide to give it up it is going to be because of my health, energy or feeling that I can't do the job anymore. I am excited about the upcoming season. "
On next year's team:
"Next year's team will be a fun team to watch and grow. When you take a guy like Luke Walton, who was willing to accept his role coming off the bench, this will give him an opportunity to display his talents and not have to look over his shoulder. (Redshirt junior) Rick Anderson has really progressed in practice this season and became our best rebounder and was right there with (freshman guard) Travis Hanour as one of the best shooters on the team. The kids that were recruited into the program were recruited with the understanding that some of the players may leave early.
On the past season:
"It was a very difficult year emotionally. In terms of taking a look at the team they came very close to reaching their potential and that's always our goal when we start the year. Looking back at it, you are never completely happy if you don't win the big prize."