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Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/24/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 23, 2006

 

Opening Statement:

Against ASU it’s a shortened week for both of us in terms of getting ready for this game with it being on Wednesday night. I feel good right now about our team’s play. I think we shoot the ball a whole lot better than we are right now but I thought the two games (Stanford and Cal), we probably played as well defensively for the entire game each of those two games as we have done all year. I thought our guys were very focused on what the game plan was and what we needed to do if we were going to be successful and concentrated and followed through very well. As a matter of fact, (assistant coach) Miles (Simon) talked to them briefly after the game in the locker room.  Miles had Cal as his scout and he complimented them on the same thing. Things were carried out as we felt as a staff as they needed to be carried out to be successful and he wanted to make sure that they understood that as well.

 

ASU presents a number of problems, I think, starting with Kevin Kruger from the three-point line and Bryson Krueger.  Both of them have shot for a very high percentage round it off to 40% for both of them. Their ability to shoot the ball is a problem for us.  (Jeff) Pendergraph does a very good job in the post-up situation and is playing better than he’s played since he’s gotten to ASU. He’s been relatively healthy and as far as what we feel we need to do, we just need to keep him out of the lane. He’s just a very good take-it-to-the-basket type guy.

 

They played people really well at home. They just had some unfortunate breaks in terms of being able to get over the hump. They had a chance to win the first three at home and certainly the Cal game with five or six minutes to go was still very much in doubt. We know what with the instate rivalry this would be a huge game for them and for us it will be a huge game if we are going to keep our title hopes alive.  I think it could help them, especially if they could knock us off.

 

We will be going with the same lineup we started with both Thursday and Saturday.

 

On ASU’s struggles without Ike Diogu:

You can’t lose a guy of that prominence and not be hurt by it because it was almost every time down court he would handle the ball. It think it was very smart on Rob’s (Evans) case that the ball was put in his hands and once it was in his hands other people could better shots than if they just tried to get shots on their own. Not only was he a great rebounder, but he did an excellent job defensively protecting the basket area. I think the thought that when he got Serge (Angounou) he would be the heir apparent, but Serge has had to deal with the injury problems that, I think, have held him back.  But Serge is a very good player.

 

They have added some new guys that are really helpful. Pendergraph has played well. Kevin Kruger has been good all year. Bryson (Krueger) struggled through a couple of games; I believe he was replaced in the starting lineup against Stanford. I don’t know if that was due to injury or what that was. They played really well and they continue to play really well defensively. So as long as they defend they have a shot. They had shots to beat both USC and UCLA, and Stanford was one of the tough games. The only score that looks like was not close was Cal and that in fact was close until the five or six minute mark.

 

On Marcus Williams’ talent as a freshman:

I think it would be hard to compare anyone with Sean Elliot’s freshman year. When I think of it since that time, I would probably have to have a little bit more time, I can’t just off the top of my head pick out someone who has had the effect on the boards, scoring wise and done a nice, solid job on defense as well.

 

On only having one Pac-10 game this week:

“The first round of league you want to play a second (game) because it is usually a national (TV) type game. We won’t play a second round game like this.  It’s strictly that. It is either going to be a nationally televised game or we wouldn’t do it.

 

On Kobe Bryant’s 81-point performance:

“We had recruits in and parents in so I was tied up until all of that stuff was over last night, but I saw some highlights. It looked like he had his night. I watched SportsCenter and they showed a sequence of his shots and it was just like it was one of those nights ?- a guy was in the zone and everything he puts up is going to have a chance to go. Of course he is playing on a team where they need to have him take 40 shots probably. It was an amazing show that I saw.”

 

On Fendi Onobun’s performance:

“Fendi is such a hardworking young man. He came in this fall and he’d be up in the film room watching tape and he’d visit with (assistant coach) Josh (Pastner) as to what are some of the things other than what’s already been said that I need to do to get better. I talked to him earlier in the year I said “Just remember, Fendi, this is going to be a great learning year for you and you have look at it that way whether you get playing time or you don’t get playing time. This year is going to have a whole lot to do with what your sophomore, junior and senior year are going to be.”

 

He is so coachable that no matter what you talk about he is totally focused on what you are talking about. The first thing we had to straighten out was his shot because he was jumper, fader and a side jump and it was ridiculous.  It was like bullets rather than a rainbow. It was just a flat shot so we wouldn’t let him shoot on the main court until he’d been at the device at the end of the court with the nets up called “The Gun.”  It was the same thing we had done with Hassan (Adams), Andre (Iguodala), Luke Walton and Richard Jefferson and a number of guys that have come through here.

 

First you have to have good lift and that is consistent lift. Secondly, you have to have a good arc because if you don’t you have to be absolutely perfect with your shot. Right now we are dealing with that with J.P. (Prince). If you saw a couple of his threes the other night you know they had to be absolutely perfect for them to go through because they were just rockets. Fendi now gets good lift, consistent lift. He’s getting good arc on his shot most of the time. He’s still a case of having to be reminded at times. You know when he comes back at night (for extra shooting) that he is going to be focused on what he needs to do.

 

He’s one of our most explosive jumpers. He and Mohammed (Tangara) are the most consistent being after every ball that is up and Fendi has great hands. He’s going to be an outstanding player. In his first two games, I look back and we’re playing Stanford and everyone knows it is a key game and here is a freshman who hasn’t been in a game this year...The shots he made around the bucket, that’s one thing, but he had a tough fourteen foot baseline jumper that went in. I would not have bet on his ability to hit that, but it was just nothing but net on that shot.

 

On what position Fendi will play:

Right now, defensively he has had more work inside than outside but on the scout team he has normally run the 3 position so he’s had work on the perimeter and developing skills there. He’s what we call a swing forward. He is a three or four.

 

On what player Fendi resembles:

No one that comes to mind right now. We felt that when we recruited him we were really going to have a good player. The thing that we looked at was that freshman year was going to be a tough year for him. With Jawann (McClellan) and Hassan back, you know the people we are talking about there but obviously the opportunity has opened for him. He has nice touch but he had inconsistent delivery of his shot. His shot is very solid, his elbow is in, he has got the ball over the elbow and he has nice touch. His problem was strictly a lift and an arc

 

On J.P. Prince’s development:

He sees the floor better than anyone that we have. If I had to say who sees the floor best it would probably be Marcus after J.P. Marcus has the ability because he is long and sees over people. But both of them have great coordination to begin with, but the fact that they are up above the guards height wise, I think, they see opportunities that others don’t. J.P. is making very good progress. Defensively, his game has improved a lot. He was a real liability at the start of the year, but he has so much length that he doesn’t have to get out and crowd people like say Mustafa (Shakur) would. What we want him to do is have a bigger gap because when a guy goes up to shoot the ball he can still get great pressure on the shot.  If he gets up too tightly on him he is going to get beat off the drive. He has good basketball instincts.

 

The importance of the bench play:

It will be key. It was really key the other night because we stayed fresh throughout and you could see with Stanford that the frontline guys were really wearing down as the game went on and I don’t think that we were because we were able to pull out a guy if he needed a rest. With the kind of condition they are in they don’t need a long rest they just need water and a quick breather. I think that it will be very important. Sometimes it will depend on the pace of the game and whether they are playing a zone or a man. We expect with ASU they will play some 2-3 zone they have shown at times. They are 90% man.

 

On the players coming out of the program:

Someone had interviewed coaches and scouts on the NBA level and they said Arizona was they most NBA friendly as far as producing players that fit their style and their needs. I thought it was a great compliment to the guys who have come out of here that they know how to play, are fundamentally sound, they are good team members whether they are on the court or on the bench. Some really complimentary things. I have heard it many, many times that they like getting Arizona players and obviously that helps us in our recruiting.

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