Feb. 11, 2002
"As far as the UCLA game is concerned, I am sure they are excited about us coming in, there is no question that they really let this one here get away. We've had, really, some exciting games against them over there, including last year's. They are very good, when they want to be good and I m sure they are frustrated by the Villanova loss, especially when Villanova held the ball so much of the time. They know that it s not going to be that kind of game with us."
"The primary problem (they cause) are with the three-point shooting with (Matt) Barnes, (Billy) Knight and (Jason) Kapono. They really spread you out, you just can t let them get looks at threes. And here when they ran up that lead, a lot was fast break situations and they would throw it behind the break and they were nailing it from everywhere. The other thing is with (Dan) Gadzuric inside you have your hands full if he is not in foul trouble. He had the game of his life last year when we played over there. It is a great rivalry and it has been for a lot of years now, it will be a packed house, a great atmosphere."
Do you feel prepared for that type of atmosphere?
"There again is the reason we play the non-conference schedule that we play. Texas was a tough place to play, Michigan State was an unbelievably tough place to play. So we ve been at Oregon and Stanford, I don t think the atmosphere is a problem, it is a plus for us. Our guys tend to play better (in a big-game atmosphere)."
What are your thoughts on last week's wins?
"In looking back at the two games last weekend, defensively, we ve played the best we ve played all year long, that includes Stanford and anyone else we ve played this season. That's encouraging to see that we re getting better defensively. When you get better defensively you can withstand bad shooting nights. And the big defensive change has been the activeness of Channing Frye inside. The thing that we have been battling there is to get Channing to react quickly. We re just a lot better right now than we were three weeks ago defensively."
"We played very well on the defensive end, I though we had the best pressure on the ball all year. We had good pressure on lead passes, we were pushing the offense out on the floor.
"That fact that Mike Schwertley came in and did the kind of job that he did gives us a little more flexibility. Before if we were going to make a change on the perimeter, it had to be three guards and that can hurt you if you have to do that for any length of time with the size problem and the fact that you don t have someone coming off of the bench that can spell any of those three guards. Now with Mike, we know for sure he can defend, we felt that in practice. And we also know he will get to the offensive boards very quick."
What does Michael Schwertley bring to the team?
"I think he provides us with energy because he is such a good athlete. The other thing is that Mike can guard either a guard or a small forward, he has that quickness to match up with anyone you put him on."
"Mike has size, really he is a small forward, and that is what we haven t had. When Luke (Walton) goes out, a lot of times we've moved Ricky (Anderson) over there. If somebody had a really quick 6-5 three-man we would have a problem matching up. Now we can do that, but not for an extended period of time. I am sure the thing with Mike getting tired is that he is really anxious about being in the game and a lot of time you burn a lot of your energy up by being just a little uptight."
"He can come in at the three spot and Luke can go to the four, if it is Jason, or if Ricky that needs a breather, we can move Luke if either one are in foul problems. Mike gives us flexibility that we haven t had. He alleviates a lot of those problems we talked about, so we have more flexibility now. The fact that we didn't have somebody that we can play in the three spot really hurt us."
What things do you need to improve on in the last few weeks of the season?
"We need to shoot better from the perimeter than what we ve done. We need to get better defensive balance to stop fast break opportunities and that will be a big concern against UCLA. Frankly, our guards have not been doing a good job of giving us defensive balance that we need."