Feb. 7, 2005
“It was a good weekend for us. I thought we played our two best games back to back that we have played this year. I thought we had good shot selection, which resulted in good percentages. We still had more turnovers than we want to live with, but I think that is in the process of changing.
The biggest thing we have tried to get across is that we have done everything we can do in terms of physical preparation. Now it all gets down to how mentally focused we are. I think if we are going to make a good run here, we have to have everyone focused on what needs to be done mentally, because physically I think we are where we need to be. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to get better physically, but the biggest thing is the mental focus and concentration.”
What will be the mental approach on the road this week?
“Anytime you play on the road you have your hands full. USC has been a very difficult team for us in Los Angeles. We are used to sellout crowds and loud and boisterous places and their place is about the nearest thing to Washington State in terms of being able to hear the ball bounce and that kind of thing. But we have had a good turnout of Arizona fans there and I would expect we would have a good turnout again. It’s a different kind of place to play. The background is different from about every other place we play.”
Were the Stanford and Cal games the two best back-to-back games Channing Frye has had?
“Well Channing has been very consistent all year long with the exception of his rebounding a week ago (against Washington and Washington State). The good thing last Thursday and Saturday was that he was after every ball that was up. It’s obvious how much more effective he is when he is in an aggressive mode.”
How has Channing progressed in the program?
“He’s made great progress since he was in high school and we watched him when there were not that many people very high on him. I knew what his character was from his parents and what his work ethic was. He ran the court very well. He had no offensive moves but that’s something that usually has to be taught when they get here. I don’t know where his numbers put him, but his numbers should have him pretty high in the records because he has been a starter all the way through his career (Likely will finish in top 10 in points, while currently third in rebounding, second in blocked shots and 10th in field goal percentage).
He’s a really nice young man. He’s great with people and kids. Yesterday we were at a Super Bowl party and this lady came up and said that her son always comes to the games dressed like the Wildcat players with the wristbands and all of that. At the end of one of the games he was passing by the bench and Channing reached over and gave him a high-five and asked if the kid wanted to exchange wristbands. So the kid gave him his and Channing gave his to the kid. That didn’t surprise me because that’s the kind of guy Channing is.
Can Frye play at the next level?
“Oh yeah. I mean how many times do you see a 6-11 guy shoot the ball the way he can shoot it? He’s not a post man, he’s a power forward at the next level. I think he’ll be a good one. The main thing is he has to be able to put the ball in the hole when he has an open shot. He has quick feet so he can defend people. I would think that Channing could be drafted somewhere in the late teens. Given his character, work ethic, and the fact he’s a team guy, he would do an unbelievable job with representing a franchise in the community. I would be shocked if he were not drafted somewhere in that area.”
What has happened to USC since losing their coach the second week of the season?
“Anytime you’ve got kids playing for you in that situation where there is going to be a new coach next season, I think they treat it differently. If somebody isn’t getting as many minutes as they should, they are going to grumble more than they would if they knew they were dealing with next year’s coach as well. The thing you look at is that talent-wise they have size, strength and quickness. They haven’t shot the ball well, but shooting can make up for a lot of other problems.”
Are you happy with the play of Kirk Walters?
“Yeah. It was unfortunate with that ankle turn, otherwise I think we could have used him more last week. We are looking for every minute we can get out of him experience-wise. I think every once in a while you all see what I see. He’s still not as aggressive as we’d like him to be, but then every once in a while you see him take that thing to the hole aggressively like he did in the second half against Stanford in front of our bench. The guy hammered him, but he was still trying to dunk the ball. A year ago he wouldn’t have been able to get the ball up. He’s got great shot blocking abilities. He’s going to be a great shot blocker for us. Channing has developed into a good one and Kirk is going to be a better shot blocker because he is longer and he has really good timing. He’s also got great shooting touch left and right.”
Is Walters showing that aggressiveness more in practice?
“Yeah. He’s trying to dunk everything now and that’s what we want. That’s the kind of aggressiveness you have to have and we tell them (post players) ?'if you get hammered, get the two and shoot for three’ instead of just getting fouled. Channing’s dunk on Saturday was an indication of that. He got hit hard, but he was not about to be denied that dunk. You see that same kind of aggressiveness developing in Kirk.”
How important is free throw shooting for this team?
“We have good shooters and they concentrate well. We don’t shoot a lot of free throws in practice. I’m not a believer in going out and shooting 400 free throws. The most important thing is the ones you do shoot have to be meaningful and you have to have focus. If they don’t have focus, they end up running if they don’t have that concentration. But they are good shooters and that’s where it starts. If a guy is not a good shooter, he’s going to have problems. We have good shooters so we should shoot free throws well.”
Has Hassan Adams done anything to increase his free throw shooting this season?
“When Hassan came in, it was a disaster as far as his shot was concerned. It was a line drive. He wasn’t always shooting at the same point of his jump all the time. It was the same with Andre (Iguodala). They both had that problem. A lot of great athletes have that problem because they like to get up there and hang around for a while before they shoot it. Reggie (Geary) was the same way. Now you take a look at Hassan, if he misses it isn’t because of the lack of arc. He’s got good arc. If he misses on his jump shot it’s usually because he’s not using consistent lift. There is no reason why he shouldn’t be a good free throw shooter. He really concentrates on that now.”