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Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 08, 2005
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 7, 2005


What were your thoughts on the Player of the Year voting?

I think you all know what my feelings have been about teams winning the league title.  I guess it’s the player of the year and not the most valuable player.  I’ve always felt that way, but certainly (Arizona State’s) Ike (Diogu) has had a spectacular year and so has Salim (Stoudamire)


Sometimes you have a couple of players who have really good years   I know some people thought that Channing (Frye) is one that needs to be looked at for that position, but I don’t know whether that had an effect on anything.


It’s certainly not a case of where I feel like Ike wasn’t certainly one of the people who deserved the award.  He had a great year.  The thing I said after Saturday’s game that I really appreciate, and have appreciated, about Ike was the fact that it has to be very frustrating to him that every time he gets the ball, he’s double- and triple-teamed.  From watching all of the tapes, I’ve never seen him look disgusted or get down about things.  He’s always handled things in a first class manner.


I think that every coach in this league is partial to his own player.  You can’t vote for your own player, but I did have Ike in the No. 1 spot as far as where I saw him with Salim out of the picture.


As a matter of fact, I had Ike as the Player of the Year, Jordan Farmar as the Freshman of the Year and Lorenzo (Romar) as the Coach of the Year.  They (UW) were right down to the wire with us and I think he’s done a tremendous job at Washington.


There were a number of people you could have put the vote in for:  Jay John at Oregon State, Dick Bennett (Washington State).  For them (WSU) to not be down to the wire to get into the (Pac-10) Tournament, I think is an indication of how good of a job he’s done there.


Can you put into words the experience of Saturday?  First the Washington loss, then beating your in-state rival, clinching the Pac-10 title and passing John Wooden:

Obviously, the day could not have been any better for us.  To have a win over your in-state rival and have that win give you the undisputed Pac-10 championship... I was not one that was giving Stanford much of a chance.  I felt that with (Dan) Grunfeld they would have had a chance.  I didn’t think they had one without him.  But (Maples Pavilion) is a difficult place to play.  We know it and so does everybody else in this league.


After watching Washington’s game on Thursday night, where everything they threw up went in, it just looked like they (UW) had played well against us, looked unbelievable against Cal, and I just thought they were on a roll.  Stanford can do that to you.  They did a nice job of forcing Washington to play more of their tempo.  It wasn’t a chase them up and down the court kind of thing.


If I would put the things in order on Saturday, I’d say our win, Washington’s loss and then getting 305.  That’s far and away the third thing in my mind.


The guys celebrated in the lockerroom on Saturday, but they also talked about there being more to play for.  How do you feel about that?

They know exactly (what they are playing for).  I know we’ll have a great practice today.  They know there are still things to do if they are going to be as good as they can be.  There are a number of little things that can be changed with more mental focus.


They were very excited about winning the title outright.  I think they will be very excited with another opportunity to get better before the NCAA playoffs.  This group has been that way all year long.  It’s not a case of anyone feeling that now we’re pretty good and we don’t have to work anymore.


Do you think the Pac-10 Tournament can help you or hurt you?

I actually think that it can help us.  It’s still a case of where there are still some things that we can do better than we are doing.  There are a number of things that I am very pleased with.  I think Mustafa (Shakur) on Saturday played as solidly as he has played all year long.  His decision making was excellent.  He was getting away from taking it in too deep.  There are things that he is doing that will make him a better player and help the team.


Hassan Adams has put together without a doubt the best string of games that he’s played here.  The mistakes that he was making earlier, he’s not making anymore.  There is no question that we are in the best position that we’ve been all year, but we can’t be satisfied with that.


Is there any sense of relief to not playing Washington State in the first round?

No.  All one has to do is take a look at the standings to see that there aren’t any gimmes.  The only thing I feel horrible about, and I know the other coaches in the league feel the same way, is that all 10 teams are not in it.


At this point, it’s one game at a neutral site.  Everyone who’s in the tournament is going to have to play well to be able to play the next game.


How do you feel about the match-up with California?

We’ve played very well against them.  We do match up well.  Their big guys are active.  (Rod) Benson plays very well.  He runs the court well and is quick.  (Richard) Midgley is capable of having a big game.  I don’t know if the shoulder has slowed him down.  They have good quickness at the point guard and good quickness on the wings.  They match up well.  With Cal, they will have everything to gain and nothing to lose.  They should be a very relaxed team, I’d think.


Can you look ahead to NCAA Tournament seedings?

I think the fourth spot (No. 1 seed) is absolutely wide open.  That spot will be filled on how teams play in the conference tournaments.  I personally feel Illinois, (North) Carolina and Wake (Forest) are probably pretty well established.  That fourth spot is up for debate.  The (Pac-10) tournament could be helpful to us.

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