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Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: December 15, 2005
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Dec. 14, 2005



Opening Statement

The first thing, I’m sure, that everyone has on their mind is Hassan (Adams).  I think in this country the legal system is that you are innocent until proven guilty unless you are an athlete.  I’m not the least bit concerned about it and I think I know a lot about what happened.  He had just come into the parking lot and was not a part of that party.


I’m not concerned about it all.  All the people that have the opinions...we are in the United States and you are innocent until proven guilty.  What he was charged with would be similar to you getting a speeding ticket.


With Utah at this point, I’ve seen tape of their Colorado game and tape of their game with Utah State.  Their top guy is Bryant Markson from Monrovia, Calif.  He’s someone that we’re familiar with because we tried to recruit him.  He’s a very good player.  The assignment will be Ivan’s (Radenovic).


They have two guys that alternate in the post area.  One of them (Chris Jackson) is 6-11 and the other (Luke Nevill) is a seven-footer.  They are not a team that likes to get up and down the court all that much.  They will break on steals and obvious fast break situations, but they are really a half court team.  They play a 2-3 zone and man-to-man.  We expect them to zone us for the obvious reasons with the way we’ve been shooting.


We’ll go with the same lineup that we started against Northern Arizona and Marcus Williams will be the first guy off the bench.  Isaiah (Fox), we felt, played very well.  It looks like he’s ready to give us help there.  Those will be the first seven guys in the game.


They had a heavy test schedule today and they have a heavy test schedule tomorrow.  We’ll work out tomorrow after (the day’s) finals are over.  On Friday morning, we have a lot of guys in the 9-11 slot and a few more in the 11-1 slot, and we’ll have their luggage ready so we can depart at 1:45 p.m.  We’ll work out in Salt Lake and then have our normal routine of team meal, tapes and a good night’s rest.  I’m sure they will be relieved to have all of the papers and finals done.  Everything seems to be going well with the classes.  Obviously, that depends on their finals.   We feel good about it.


Two of our seniors will be receiving their degrees this weekend with Isaiah and Chris Rodgers.  Chris Rodgers in three-and-a-half years and Isaiah in four-and-a-half.  Hassan Adams is on track to walk with his class in May and take a three-unit correspondence course to finish up.  We’re pleased with what these guys have accomplished.


What does it mean to have these guys graduate?

I think what we do with our players is similar to what the great majority of university programs in this country do.  The only problem is that if someone goes out to the NBA after two years, like Andre (Iguodala) did, well, it doesn’t give you much of an opportunity to get it done (a degree).  We want to make sure we’re doing the job with them while they are here.  For us to have two four-year seniors and one five-year senior, we’ve been able to accomplish what we like to accomplish.


We try to point out to them all of the time that the air goes out of the ball in a hurry.  It’s making sure that they are prepared for life after basketball.  That’s what we’re concerned about.  Because of the numbers of guys we have that play in the NBA or overseas, it puts a lot of pressure on these kids to try to get it done as quickly as possible.


I’m very pleased with this class.  All of them are going to accomplish what they set out to do.  When I talked with Connie, Hassan’s mom, she’s going to make sure that he gets it done.  She’s not one to mess with (smiles).


How about a status report on the team?

In watching the Saint Mary’s tape, I thought our guys played very, very hard defensively and we started making shots in the second half.  That’s what we need to do is to start making shots.  Our defense is as good as any in the country.  I thought we played well.  I think our defense finally got to them.


We’ve shot the ball well in practice.  We worked out early on Monday to clear some things for recruiting and to give the guys a chance to have the afternoon and evening to prepare for finals.  But we shot the ball well on Monday.  Generally, what happens is that you see things like this happen in practice and then you see things happen in the game.  I’ll stick by what I’ve said:  by February, we’ll be as good as we were last year, if not better.


We took better shots (in the second half of the Saint Mary’s game).  There were very few forced shots in that situation.  I don’t want them to pass up shots that are good percentage shots for them.  But on the other hand, I don’t want them going up with somebody in their face shooting the basketball.  I don’t care if it’s a 15-footer or a three-pointer.


We almost did make a three-pointer in that game (laughs).  Remember, they had to go check the monitor and Hassan’s toe did touch the line.  We came close to keeping that streak going.


Can you talk about Utah without the presence of Andrew Bogut?

It’s a different team now.  In the last couple years, pretty much everything they did went through Bogut.  Regardless of whether they took an outside shot, it was usually that he had to touch the ball, which was very wise on their part as good he was.  They still have two big guys in Jackson and Nevill, who play equal amounts of time.


Playing at Utah is always a challenge.  It’s exactly what we need and want at this point ?- another road game to prepare us for the Washington trip (the opening Pac-10 road trip, Dec. 29 & 31).


Are you a big believer in momentum?

Yes.  That was the point that I made after we got back from Houston...that we needed to get some momentum built.  We got two under our belt last week.  Now we have one on the road and come back home for two.  We’ve emphasized this to the guys that we have to utilize every half of basketball that we can utilize at this point, primarily to get our confidence back.


How you keep the players focused on basketball during this hectic time of the semester?

We require all of our guys to carry a full (class) load.  There are a lot of pressures on them right now.  I think that when we get on that plane on Friday, there’s going to be a collective sigh of relief that all of that is over.  It’s good that we’re going up there and getting our workout in and get that night together before we go on Saturday afternoon.


People really have no idea of the time commitment that the athletes make.  We start with weights in the morning on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the practices, the tutoring sessions, the group study sessions that they go through now.  It’s challenging to them, but I think this group has handled everything well.  This is a great group of guys that is fun to work with and enjoy their successes.


Do you see any similarities between you and Utah?

They shoot it better than we do, though we shoot it more.  They are much more of a half-court team than we are.  I’m certain that their No. 1 thing is not to get into a running game with us.  We have more experience than they have back from last year, so I think we have that advantage on them.  The advantage they have, of course, is playing there.


You’ve had a lot of walk-ons in the program.  What makes a guy like David Bagga stand out?

David is a very nice young man with great communication skills and a great personality.  The guys on the team love having him around.  At practice he’ll do anything.  If we asked him to stand on his head for two hours, he’d do that.  He’s always in a great mood.  I think he’s become a crowd favorite.  I have mentioned to him, though, that it would be good for him to wait for a good shot to come to him (smiles).  Bagga is a fun guy.


Talk about the effect that the new student section has had on the McKale Center environment:

I’m really looking forward to when the students come back and we have Pac-10 games.  It’s made a big difference already because they are here earlier.  When the guys come out to warm up, there are students in the seats.  They are very proactive.  They get into the game they don’t wait for us to do things to get them in the game.  All I can say is that it’s about time.  This is something that should have happened a long time ago.

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