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Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: February 28, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Feb. 27, 2006


Opening Statement

Very quickly about the game on Saturday, I thought the first half was probably as well as any of our teams have played here on the defensive end of the court.  Offensively we did a good job of moving the ball, of course so many of our buckets came off of open court situations as a result of our 12 steals in the first half.  It was obvious the guys really responded to the enthusiasm of the crowd.  Our players were focused on, when it was obvious the way things were going, holding them to single figures.


It’s hard coming out of the locker room when you have that kind of lead to maintain that kind of intensity, I should have, with two minutes gone in the half, put it five reserves and let them get after it.  We went to the bench fairly early, but we probably could have done it a little bit quicker.


Like I said after the game, (Ivan) Radenovic’s game was outstanding again.  He is coming to the forefront as one of the leaders, not only in terms of how he is playing, but with his communication, with other members on the team and its pretty obvious that he, Hassan (Adams) and Mustafa (Shakur) are providing great leadership and are playing very hard.  Watching the tapes, I thought Fendi Onobun did a great job for us. Bret Brielmaier goes in and doesn’t make silly mistakes.  He’s an ideal guy coming off the bench in terms of his awareness and his focus on what needs to be done.  I am pleased with the development with Mohamed (Tangara), he’ll get more time this week.  He’s gotten to the point now where he posts up really well.  He, like Kirk Walters, needs to be protective of his fouls, but we’ll spend a lot of time with both of those guys this week to see if we can’t get more minutes without fouls.


With our game on Thursday night, obviously the biggest challenge is going to be to maintain enough pressure on them so that it will be hard for them to use the clock as much as they will want to coming in.  It will be a case of where we’ll go to the bench early and often in terms of keeping fresh people, because we don’t want the score in the 30’s or 40’s like they had this last weekend.  They are very sound defensively, it is obvious how well coached they are when you watch them play.  They do things on the defensive end that are very sound and they make it difficult for you to get good looks and that is another reason why I think our being able to pressure them on their offensive end is going to be important to us as our defense becomes a large part of our offense.  In the past when Washington State puts shots up, they usually send three or four guys back, sometimes even five, just to stop us from getting break opportunities.  So we know what we’re going to face, it’s just a matter if we can influence the speed of the game.  I’m sure from this kind of standpoint, it’s going to be a huge concentration on making sure they don’t get into an up and down game.


With Washington on Saturday, if I eliminate us from the equation, I think right now Washington is playing the best basketball in the conference.  They’re the quickest team in the conference probably along with us. They’re using that quickness on the defensive end.  They’re doing a great job of pressuring the ball, switching, and rotating, drawing charges.  They are a much better team then when we played them on the first road trip.  Brandon Roy is playing lights out in all aspects of the game.  He is shooting 51% from the floor, over 40% from, the three point line, over 80% from the free throw line.  There isn’t any area where he’s not playing well, plus he’s doing a great job on the defensive end of the court.  I don’t know how many charges he’s drawn, but he’s not afraid to put his body out there.  They’re playing very well, it’s going to be an interesting week, but obviously our focus is on Thursday night.


Have you seen a rejuvenated Hassan Adams of late?

It’s close to tournament time.  It’s important that we do well in the final two games but I guess when a young man is a senior and he’s gone through four years there have probably been times in the season where they loose the focus a little bit.  But I think now with the tournament coming up and with the close of the Pac-10, I’ll be suppressed if he is not totally focused with everything we’re doing now.  The good thing is he’s going to the boards, he’s defending, he’s being selective in terms of his shots, he’s using his ability to take the ball to the basket and create opportunities.  I think he’ll be right on everything for the rest of the year.


How do you deal with the tempo that Washington State plays?

Well, they’re a good, sound defensive team, but I think the fact that their opponents are on defense for so much of the game, maybe there is a tendency on the part of the other team to get in too much of a hurry on the offensive end, because it’s like we haven’t had the ball for so long we have to do something quickly, and that’s the worse mistake that you can make.  The key in playing a team like that is to make sure you get a good shot every time, and maybe it is going to take you a long time for that good shot to come.  They’re very sound defensively.  They are not going to get out and pressure lead passes or anything else.  They are going to stay in position, jam the paint up and make sure they’re not giving you second and third opportunities.


Could you describe the three seniors as they prepare for their final home games?

Unfortunately with Isaiah (Fox) right now the back is really bothering him.  We’ll find out more in the next couple of days if there is something that is there that is going to keep him from playing.  Right now it is not possible for him to play.  He came out last week and tried to tough it out and after watching for a little bit. I just told him you just can’t be out here and do this and take a chance of further injury with it until they find out exactly what the problem is because it has hung around too long to just be a muscle spasm.  He’s has at least two knee surgeries.  You look back at his freshman year when he was healthy and he was sharing starting time with Channing Frye.  In a number of cases it’s been his weight that he hasn’t controlled, but then there have been knee injuries that have knocked him out for long, long periods of time, and now this year with the back problems.  He worked really hard this summer to get his weight under control and increase his strength and quickness but he has had tough luck in staying healthy.


With Chris’s situation his first couple of years it was falling behind Salim (Stoudamire) and then Mustafa came in and it’s been an on-and-off situation with him.  The one thing that has been consistent is his defense.  It was good when he came but has gotten better and better because he has eliminated some of the reaching and things where he would do a great job and then let the guy off the hook with reaching and getting fouls called.  Offensively, it has been a huge adjustment for him from high school where for them to win he had to score a bunch of points, and whenever that happens there is a huge adjustment when you go to college because all of a sudden you have four good players on the team and everyone has to be involved and that’s been a difficult thing.


Hassan came in as a freshman and played a lot of minutes, but usually in a four position.  He had played inside in high school, but then as a sophomore we tried to involve him more on the perimeter even though he was fighting with Andre (Iguodala).  We went with four guys out and gave him a lot more freedom in terms of away from the basket.  His ball handling wasn’t good, but he worked very hard on that going into his junior year and coming into his senior year to be at the point now where he handles it pretty well with both hands.  He has become much more of a consistent shooter because as a freshman he was a line drive shooter and a hang in the air shooter.   A lot of times great athletes get into that, but he has done a nice job of working at the things he’s needed to do.


Were you worried about how Hassan would react when Andre decided to turn professional because the two were so close?

I think he reacted really well.  Andre’s going was certainly difficult from the team’s standpoint, but it was a good thing for Hassan because that’s allowed him to concentrate on being a perimeter guy.  Of course with that wing position whether you’re a two of three it doesn’t make any difference, but I think this year Hassan’s handled the ball a whole lot more than he did before.


The thing is that regardless where a guy plays after he leaves here whether it be in the NBA or overseas or whatever, it is still a team game.  It’s not like a swimmer going out there and going for a time in swimming, or someone running 100 meters.  In basketball, it doesn’t make any difference what level you play at, when you get to college and beyond you have good players on the court with you, and you have to adjust to playing with four other guys.  It’s not easy.  We’ve had this in some instances in the past where guys were huge scores in high school and really had a difficult time through their whole college career, and that’s not just here that’s other schools as well.  It’s a team game and some guys take longer to adjust to that.  I think Chris recognizes that and he’s going to be more ready to face that once he moves on to wherever he plays next year.  His abilities are such that he can be an outstanding player on the next level whatever level that may be.


What are your thoughts of Bret Brielmaier?

He is absolutely the ideal teammate.  He is the most involved on the bench, and he is just really into the game.  In practice, he just works his butt off.  I don’t care if you ask him to be on the scout team, he’s a very positive guy.  He has been a very important guy to us, now with Isaiah not being able to play.  If we need a physical presence, we go with Mohamed.  If we need more of an all-around presence, we go with Bret.  They don’t come any better as far as a young man and his commitment to team.


Talk about Ivan Radenovic’s play of late?

I think with Ivan, it’s a case of seeing that he needs to be more involved ­­- th­at Hassan and Mustafa need more help.  He understands the game; he’s a very intelligent young man.  I think he’s done what he’s done because he’s saying, ?'hey if this team is going to step up another notch it’s going to depend on me stepping up and being a consistent factor in every game,’ and he’s certainly done that.  It’s not just scoring.  If you look at his rebound totals, he’s probably been our most consistent rebounder over the last how ever many games.  We’ve adjusted some things to make sure the ball gets in his hands and I think he likes that.  I think he feels very comfortable with that but because he feels more obligation and more responsibility in terms of the team.


Is this a difficult week as a staff?

The good thing is that it’s Washington State first, because the way Washington plays is more the way we play, so there’s not as much of an adjustment.  We won’t start on Washington State until tomorrow.  We’ll take our normal two days in preparation, and today we’ll spend our time on the things that we saw from our team the last week that we need to work on.


It’s a whole lot easier to do you peaking on Saturday.  Just take a look what’s happened with some teams after big wins on Thursday night, like Cal against us up there and Oregon State up there.  It’s a lot tougher when you have that big game and maybe the next game isn’t quite as big to you, but it’s huge to the team you play, so it’s probably better for us that Washington is on Saturday.

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