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Men's Basketball Pre-NCAA Tournament Press Conference Quotes
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 13, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Press Conference Quotes

Pre-NCAA Tournament First Round

March 13, 2006



Head Coach Lute Olson Quotes


Opening Statement

With Wisconsin, and having seen a number of their tapes, they like to run their half court offense.  It is what they call a swing offense.  Basically, their big men may be outside, their guards may be posting up, so you have to be able to defend them all over the court.  They have gone with their 6-10 (Jason Chappell), 6-11 (Brian Butch) guys up front with three perimeter guys.  In the last game, they went with four perimeter guys and one post guy.  They do have some flexibility.  I think we can match-up pretty well.


They are a man-to-man team.  They shoot a lot of threes.  They will run on steals and interceptions, but not off missed shots.  I’d say they are fairly typical of Big Tens teams of the past in terms of preferring a half court style and being physical, tough on the offensive boards.  But I do feel that we have the ability to match up well with them based on how we’ve played throughout the course of the year.


We had a full practice yesterday.  We’ll put in the scout team things today, but we won’t be on the court for more than an hour and 15 minutes today.  Our main preparation days will be Tuesday and Wednesday.  We were hoping for a 2 p.m. charter departure on Wednesday, not much later, so we could wake up on their time Thursday and get acclimated to that time difference.


Is it important to get off to a good start on Friday?

The key to our ball club is getting out and defending hard and utilizing our quickness.  I’m hoping with the experience we had a year ago with the run to the Elite Eight that Ivan (Radenovic), Hassan (Adams) and Mustafa (Shakur) have been through it.  It shouldn’t be a shock to them, and I think it’s important that Marcus (Williams) had the kind of game that he did against UCLA (25 points/7 rebounds) because that will be a confidence boost for him.  He’s not someone who has been an uptight guy anyway.  If you look at the kind of game he had against Washington at Washington (Dec. 31, 16 points/9 rebounds) where there was a lot of pressure on him, and he responded very well.


Getting off early would be important in any game.  I think the key to the game is going to be the amount of defensive pressure we put on the ball and the ability to cut down on their second opportunities on the glass.


Give a quick synopsis of the Wisconsin approach:

For example, the post may set a back screen and from the back screen, he will pop out to the perimeter.  If you look at the stats, you will see that their big guys have shot a lot of threes.  Whether it’s the point guard or the five man or anything in between, they are going to be all over the court in their offense.


Like any other team, there are certain guys that are key.  (Kammron) Taylor is an outstanding penetrator with good quickness.  (Alando) Tucker is a outstanding athlete who posts up very well and takes the ball to the basket.  He is a very good all-around basketball player.  The fact that he is the size that he is, we will have Hassan Adams or Marcus on him.  Those will be our two best match-ups, but he is very, very clever inside.


Is it reasonable to compare Marcus Williams to Sean Elliott at this point of their careers?

Marcus certainly has that kind of ability.  I think Sean in his freshman year (1985-86)...well, it would be hard to compare anyone in their freshman year to what Sean accomplished.  He was certainly a key to our winning the (Pac-10) title in his freshman year.  I think he was our leading scorer and one of our leading rebounders.


There haven’t been a lot of freshmen that have affected their team as much as Sean did in his freshman year.  I think that Marcus has had an outstanding freshman year.  I don’t think he is the rebounder that Sean was.  Sean was a better creator than Marcus.  Marcus does a good job of penetrating, but Sean was one of our leading assist guys as well.  It’s unusual to get a guy who sees the floor and can deliver the pass like Sean did.


In terms of looking at Marcus and comparing him to players that have come through this program, I guess he is more like Sean than anybody else.  But Marcus needs to get more aggressive on the boards if he’s going to be compared to Sean.


What about gait and demeanor?

In a lot of ways they are.  Marcus is a very big competitor.  He doesn’t show that competitiveness as much as Sean did.  Sean stepped in his freshman year and became a go-to guy and a leader and took to that role very well.


Every tournament is a different experience.  Do you think this team can capture the fans with a nice run in the tournament?

I think there are a lot of similarities with the 1997 team.  Both teams went into the tournament with 19 wins.  Both teams were 11-7 in the conference.  One of our biggest problems this year has been consistency in shooting, but I think this team is better than that team defensively.  But that team (1997) shot the ball better with (Mike) Bibby, (Jason) Terry, (Michael) Dickerson, and Miles (Simon) was a great scorer.


I think that team had the outstanding leadership of Miles Simon in terms of the toughness and the swagger and the rest of it.  I don’t think we have anyone that would compare with that.  That is so critical when you get into the tournament that you have somebody that has the way to instill confidence in everybody on the floor with them.


How was the return of Hassan Adams to practice yesterday?

We had a really good workout last night...very competitive.  I think it was good.  The guys had a lot of enthusiasm.  You could tell that they were very excited about being in the tournament.  I thought it was one of our best practices of the year in terms of the basic response on the court.


I think Hassan is the emotional leader on the floor and that is evident.  It took him the first eight minutes once we went full court to get in the swing of things.  But his last 12 minutes were outstanding.


Twenty-two straight years in the tournament.  Do you still get excited?

Oh, yes.  It’s why you coach...for the excitement of being in the NCAA Tournament.  For us to have been in for 22 straight years...The first year here we didn’t get in, but the last five years at Iowa we did, so it’s been 27 out of the last 28 years.  But it doesn’t change in terms of your excitement, the only thing is that you probably have a better fell of what the guys are going through and what you need to do to make sure that they are prepared for what is going to happen.


I think the fact that we have good experience in the tournament is going to be very helpful.  Those returning guys will do a good job.


Talk about Mustafa heading home to Philadelphia:

It will be exciting for Mustafa to be there (home in Philadelphia).  We need to make sure that when game time comes, we need him to play the way he can play.  You are going to be excited enough just being in the playoffs.  The danger is being too excited.


Wisconsin has ups and downs similar to you...Is that becoming more common at this level?

There is great parity in college basketball.  You’ve seen in the NCAA playoffs the last two years where there have been closer games than ever in the history of the tournament.  That extends into league play too.  You see that in a lot of conferences.  The parity, the fact that some of the top programs have lost top players to the draft in the past has had an effect on that.


Talk about Brian Butch:

He is a very mobile five-man.  He’s almost more comfortable facing up than with his back to the basket.  He’ll put the ball down well both ways.  If you are out there defending him with a big man, he creates problems for you because he can shoot it and put it down.


Typical of most big guys when they are in high school, they didn’t get a chance to play against other big guys.  He looks like he has gotten stronger, but I’m sure if you spoke with Coach Ryan, he would say the first thing he needs to do is get stronger.  That’s not unusual.  We would say the same thing about Kirk Walters.


Temple Coach John Chaney retired today.  What are your thoughts?

I was so sorry to see what happened a year ago because I know John Chaney and I know him well.  He is one of the best things that’s ever happened to Philadelphia in terms of his leadership.  He’s had a tremendous effect on the inner city kids in Philadelphia.  John is as nice of a guy as you will meet.  You never have to wonder what he thinks about something because he’s going to tell you.  He is very passionate in his beliefs.


He is someone who came up the hard way.  He’s a no-nonsense guy in terms of dealing with his players.  His players love him.  He’s as hard on them as any coach, ever.  If you have your workouts at 6 a.m., that’s would not be No. 1 on a lot of young guys’ minds.  He wants guys to remember that this is your responsibility to be here whenever we call practice.


I think you could talk to 100 coaches and they would tell you the same thing that they were sorry to see what went down last year because that’s just not John.


Arizona Player Quotes


Junior Point Guard Mustafa Shakur


On returning to his hometown of Philadelphia:

“I am excited. I’m happy to be going home for the first time to play a game. I have always loved playing in front of my hometown friends and family.”


More on playing in Philadelphia:

“I actually wasn’t watching it (NCAA Selection Show), but then I looked at my cell phone and I had like four voice mails from friends and I knew I was going back home. I’ll probably have about 200 tickets for friends and family if I can get them.”


Is there any added pressure playing in front of friends and family?

I don’t think there is any added pressure. I’ve always played better in front of my family.”


On what the team expects out of Wisconsin:

“I think they play an aggressive style. They are a tough team. We’re going to try to get out and run against them.”


On the return of senior Hassan Adams:

“It will mean a lot for us. It will be nice to have on of our go-to guys back. We’re going to need his athleticism and emotion the rest of the way.”


Freshman Forward Marcus Williams


On playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time:

“I’m excited. It’ll be my first time. I’m looking forward to it. I think we have a good chance against Wisconsin even though they are a tough team. I think we have a good bracket to do well in if we play like we know we can.”


On Wisconsin’s style of play:

“I don’t know too much about them. I think they might be a bit like Washington State in our conference since (Former WSU coach Dick Bennett) coached at Wisconsin. I know the game is going to be a lot more physical, probably similar to the UCLA game (last Friday). We’re going to have to show what this team is all about. We have a lot of heart. We are starting with a 0-0 record again.”


On the return of senior Hassan Adams:

“His 17 points and six rebounds are tough to make up for. It’ll be great to have him back. He brings a lot of intensity each game”


On if he feels Arizona is being perceived as an underdog:

“Not really. People might look at us as an underdog since we’ve gone through a lot this year. Getting Hassan (Adams) back will really help us. He’s physical and plays with intensity. We’re going to need him to get out and run against them.”


Junior Forward Ivan Radenovic


On the NCAA Tournament:

“It’s a totally new season for us. Whatever has happened before is in the past. We have to forget about everything. It’s a new season; It’s do or die.”


On the expected physical style of Wisconsin:

“You have to learn how to handle it. You have to be tough. The refs aren’t going to call a lot, so you just have to play through it.”


On what the team expects out of Wisconsin:

“They are going to try to slow the game down. They try to keep the score in the 60s or 50s. We need to put a lot of pressure on them and try to speed the game up.”


Junior Center Kirk Walters


On the return of senior Hassan Adams:

“He’s a real vocal guy for us. He’s been here for fours and he knows what we have to do. He’s a central part of our defense and our offense. It’s good to have him back because he brings a lot to the court.”


On Wisconsin:

“They come from a tough conference. I know they rebound and defend well. We’re really going to have to push the ball and try to get them out of their game.”


On the potential of matching up against No. 1 seed Villanova in the Second Round:

“Sooner or later you’re going to have to play the tough teams. You might as well play them sooner. We know we have a tough game in the First Round with Wisconsin.”


Sophomore Forward Bret Breilmaier:


Compare this year’s team to the Elite Eight team a year ago:

“We’re a lot different team this year. We have different personalities and a different makeup. It will be interesting to see how we match up this year.”


On Wisconsin:

“We were joking last night that it’s like they have 10 Bret Breilmaier’s. They’re a tough, smart team. It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”


On the return of senior Hassan Adams:

“He looked good last night [in practice]. His legs were fresh. It’s good to have our leader back. He brings a lot of intensity to the court.”


Freshman Forward Fendi Onobun


On playing for the first time in the NCAA Tournament:

“Mustafa (Shakur) and Hassan (Adams) have been here numerous times. They know what it takes in practice and how we have to concentrate. I know I can learn a lot from them this week.”


On this week’s preparations:

“We need to get the job done. We need to do the best we can. We’re practicing hard and I think everyone is on the same page.”

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