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Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/03/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 3, 2006

 

Opening Statement:

“Good weekend for us.  One thing that is pretty obvious to most anyone who has watched most of the teams in our league is that [the Washington schools] are the most difficult road trip.  I’d be shocked if anyone can get two wins on that road trip, so it’s a good road trip for us to have out of the way.”

 

“The philosophy has always been that if you win more than you lose on the road, and you protect you’re home court, you’ll have a good shot at wining the league title.  Those were two good wins for us.  We just have to make sure we don’t blow protecting our home court.  These games will be very big.”

 

“UCLA has played very well, although I think everyone is shocked by their loss to Cal.  They’ve been playing well and doing a good job.  USC showed their potential with that win over North Carolina.  It was a case where they pretty much dominated that game.”

 

“With UCLA, it’s always a big game as far as our fans are concerned, as well as our players.  UCLA still has that name recognition; even though in recent years [a more pertinent rivalry] was us and Washington or us and Stanford.  With UCLA it’s always a big game nationally because their name still carries some of that magic from the [former UCLA coach John] Wooden years.  They return three starters from last year with then-freshman, now sophomores [Jordan] Farmar, [Arron] Afflalo and [Josh] Shipp who has been back for a few games.  Cedric Bozeman, as I understand, had a fairly severe shoulder kind of thing, so I don’t think he’ll be playing.  Obviously, we’ve seen a lot of him the last few years.  Their inside strength now, they’ve added the [Ryan] Wright kid from Canada, and the two bigger guys from Cameroon.  I think both of them [Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alfred Aboya] played prep school here in the States.

 

“[UCLA’s] strength is still perimeter, so there are some similarities between our teams.  The perimeter match-ups will be interesting match-ups.  It will be interesting to see how much their inside people, who are new to their program, have developed.  It should be a really competitive game.”

 

“Barring anything happening between now and Thursday, we’ll go with the same lineup that started on the Washington trip.  We’re happy with the progress Kirk Walters has made.  It’s almost like he’s more comfortable coming off the bench than as a starter.  J.P. Prince has been getting more minutes, as his practice performance has earned additional time.  His position defense has been getting consistently better.  The rotation behind Kirk, will be Bret [Brielmaier], and Isaiah [Fox].

 

“Our mental approach will be solid.  Our guys know what it will take to get on top of the league.  [The league season is] a long haul, but you can’t afford not being ready to play each time out.”  

 

“Hassan [Adams], I saw was the [Pac-10] Player of the Week.  He had two great performances on the road, and it’s the first guy in a few years that’s won back-to-back player of the week honors.”

 

On the defensive pressure UA will put on UCLA:

“Generally speaking, UCLA has been a team that has liked to have people pressure them because they’re so athletic.  We’ll see whether we pick them up at half court, or we extend out [to full court pressure].  I’m sure you’ll see a little of both.” 

 

On UCLA sophomore G Arron Afflalo:

“I’ve always liked Afflalo.  It seems like he’s gotten stronger and more efficient from the perimeter.  There’s no question in my mind that he’ll be an NBA player and will play for a long time.  He’s got a great body, great competitor and he defends.  He was the best defensive player [in the league] a year ago, I thought.  He plays with the same kind of fire that Hassan [Adams] does.”

 

On the progress of Ivan Radenovic:

“I see him coming around.  With Ivan right now, we need to get him to make the same adjustments that Hassan did, where he becomes a scorer not a shooter first and scorer second.  He needs to take the ball to the basket more, and needs to use his mid-range game.  He’s relying too much on stepping out and taking the perimeter shot.  His wrist and thumb have been bothering him ever since the [Dec. 17] Utah game.  It’s never comfortable, as a shooter, to have tape on the shooting hand.  It’s been a while, however, that he’s had any kind of re-injury in a practice situation.  He’s close to being at full strength again.”

 

On UA climbing back into the Top 25 after falling out:

“I still don’t understand it.  The fact we dropped out of it was more due to the schedule that we played than anything else.  If anything should convince someone that they should play an easy schedule with a lot of home games, that would be it.”

 

On playing UCLA right after sweeping a difficult road trip:

“I’ve not seen a time that we played UCLA and we weren’t excited to play them.  It’s good that we have this game when we have it.”

 

On strength of the league across the board:

"I think it’s pretty safe to say that in this league you aren’t safe at home or on the road.  Nothing is closer to the truth than what you saw with Cal.  Cal was not somebody that was being looked as one of the top division teams, I don’t think.  The reason they weren’t was that nobody knew if Leon Powe was going to be back or not, but they have other players on that team that are good too.  [Richard] Midgley is, what, an eighth-year senior (laughs).  It seems like he’s been around forever.  Ayinde [Ubaka] was somebody we were actively pursuing, so we knew he’d end up being a good player.  The only question mark on Cal was whether Powe would be back."

 

On having a target on your back:

“I don’t think the target has ever been off us.  We’re used to having people come at us with their ?'A’ game.  It’s been a long time since somebody came out against us and wasn’t ready to play or didn’t look at it like a big game.”

 

On USC:

“The big thing is that there is now a very strong emphasis on defense, which there had not been for some time.  Under [former Head Coach Henry] Bibby they always ran that match-up zone, and sometimes I thought they were more confused than we were (smiles).  I think they’re second in the conference to Washington State in field goal percentage allowed.  That’s not unusual for Tim [Floyd’s] teams.  They’ve always played good defense in New Orleans and at Iowa State.  Offensively, he’s loosened up, and that’s probably due to the NBA.”

 

“As I looked at the box score, it looked like their problems are going to be a depth thing.  They had five guys with a lot of minutes and not much after that.  I don’t know if that’s an indication that somebody was hurt or what the deal was.  It’s difficult to go with five guys and maintain the pace that is usually set in this league.  Even with Washington State’s [slow-paced style], there’s no way they could get away with five guys, and USC has gone with man almost exclusively.”   

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