Head Coach Lute Olson:
On Jawann McClellan being declared ineligible for the fall semester?
“We’re obviously disappointed that he’s not eligible immediately. We felt that the circumstances of last spring and summer with Jawann losing his dad would be a factor in the NCAA decision. They declined the appeal and as a result we just have to deal with what they say and you go from there.”
“Jawann will be able to practice, but he won’t be able to travel. It’s not like a redshirt situation where we could take him on the road with you. That is probably going to be the most difficult thing for Jawann to deal with, but otherwise he will be practicing with us all time. The fact is that he played such a key role for us down the stretch last year and he has the game experience. So that’s not going to be a problem once he gets back for the seven games that he will miss. I don’t think that we have a problem. It will probably take him a couple of games to get the swing of things.”
Obviously, this creates an opportunity for other players to step up:
“The big thing is that (McClellan’s ineligibility) is going to give some other guys opportunities to get minutes and you know in the long run it may make our team stronger because those minutes will divided among a couple of other guys.”
“I feel good about this team. Normally, when we have this media conference, it’s only been after a few days of practice. The NCAA rule that was changed that gave us the two hours with no limit on the number of guys on the court, where it used to be four guys maximum, has been helpful because we have been able to see the talent out there.”
“The practice situation has been great. We have the two hours a week, and we divide it into two 40-minute secessions with the whole team, a regular practice kind of thing. Once we leave the court the players stay and the pick-up games have been at least ten times better. You know what my feeling has been on pick-up games. Before, they would develop bad habits that you had to break once you get them out there. From what we’ve seen, they have gotten a lot out of pick-up games and we have two 20-minute individual secessions per week.”
“The good thing is the conditioning coaches can work with them for 20 minutes, then leave the court, and the young men can continue out there on their own. I think we have made very good use of that time, and in a couple of instances, we’ve gone with the full two-hour practices just to give them the feel of what is going to happen on Saturday (Oct. 15). It has really been very helpful.”
On how Ivan Radenovic is going to be used:
“He’s worked on pick situations, where he’d set an off-ball screen and then we popped him out because he was such a good perimeter shooter. Now, he’ll be in the motion offence just like the point guard and the wings.”
Could Hassan be used as a forward?
“The four outside positions are identical, so that makes it easier for us and for guys like Hassan who can play two, three, four whatever number you want to put on him. To us, the only difference is who will be guarding each man. Offensively, other than the obvious thing of trying to get the ball out to the top to the point guard to run our offense, once we cross half court and get into our offense, there’s not going to be any difference.”
On previous players and teams looking similar to this year’s team:
“Bennett (Davison) was more an inside guy than Ivan is. With Bennett, we still kept Jason Terry and A.J. (Bramlett) on the inside and occasionally we’d pop them out to spread the defense out (1998-99 club). But with the quickness that we have on this team, we want to keep the court spread as much as we can so we can take advantage of cuts to the basket and driving the ball. In Hassan’s (Adams) case, he is very tough to handle in the post area. He will be making very hard cuts to those positions rather than going down there to set up, waiting for the ball. So we’ll try to utilize his quickness on cuts to the basket. We really haven’t run in the time I have been here a true four out position. The only time we did was when we used Hassan and Andre (Iguodala) together two years ago.”
On possible full-court pressure:
“We’ll do more out of forward three-quarter court pressure. We have good depth so we will be able to play a lot of people, and on offense we want a lot of movement. Because of our depth, we can rest people, and the other teams, unless they are in the zone defense, are going to be doing a lot of running.”
On other potential adjustments:
“Well, I hope that it has been obvious through the years that we’ve adjusted with the personnel. It’s not a case where the person comes in and they have to adjust to what we are doing. We try to utilize the person as best we can. This started as soon as the season was over last year.”
If you had Channing Frye, or a proven guy inside would you be doing this?
“Yeah, because he would be the guy inside. If you take a look at some of the inside people that we have, and there will be situations where we will be playing our big guys together, we have had Isaiah inside and out. The two guys we have kept on the inside have been Mohamed (Tangara) and Kirk (Walters).”
“As I watch Kirk’s development, he actually shoots the ball pretty well. Channing was our second-best shooter last year and Kirk certainly isn’t to that point, but he’s starting to feel more and more comfortable stepping out to a good distance and shooting the ball. We want to keep Mohamed a little bit closer to the hoop because of his strengths right now. That may change after another year or so.”
Have you seen other teams adjust to you or you more to them?
“I think this will create problems for people that we’re going to be playing against. If you take a look at what UCLA did last year, they used Dijon (Thompson) in a four position, which created a problem for a lot of other teams. It wasn’t as much a problem for us because we could put four men in who could guard him. I’ll use Ivan as an example. He can guard inside or out, so if it’s a big guy, he is physical enough now and he has a very high basketball I.Q., and different from a lot of other European players, he has really good lateral foot quickness. I think other teams will have to match up with us more than we’ll have to match up with them.”
What needs to be worked on from last year?
“We need to have good, balanced scoring. Last year, we relied on Salim (Stoudamire) a lot and Channing had big games for us, so we have to get good balance. The key is going to be that every time we get the ball, we need to get a good shot ?- a good shot to one player is not the same as a good shot to another player. The key to success in any sport you want to talk about is defense, and that will be our biggest concentration for all year, really. It will be the first thing that has to be established.”
“Mohamed is 100 percent. That’s not been a problem at all. In Chris’s case, he was out shooting and running and cutting and doing some jumping. We didn’t have him in any contact things, but I think initially (athletic trainer) Justin (Kokoskie) thought that wouldn’t happen for a couple more weeks. I think Chris will be ready to play in exhibition games, which I think is important because that will get him ready for the opening games. Chris is going to have a great year. He’s always been one of our top defenders, and with increased minutes ?- he’s a good shooter ?-he just needs game time to get his confidence.”
Senior Isaiah Fox
On the makeup of the 2005-06 team:
“The team chemistry is good, we have all the pieces, and now we just have to put it together.”
On his senior year:
“I’ve been much more focused. I want to have a big year, but I have to stay focused and perform well.”
What i’s you role this year?
“ I just need to step up and help out.”
Senior Chris Rodgers
On getting the season started:
“I’m really excited for the season. All the guys have been working hard in the offseason and now we are ready to go.”
On the freshman class:
“I really like all the freshman. They work really hard and they all have lots of potential.”
Junior Ivan Radenovic
What are the goals for this season?
“This team has the same goal every year, and that’s to win a national championship. This year is the same. We were so close last year, but now it’s just an opportunity to work hard at each game.”
How will this year be different than last year?
“I was able to put on some weight, which has made me a lot stronger. I have also worked hard to improve my inside and outside game.”
Sophomore Jawann McClellan
On the passing of his father and this season:
“Everything happens for a reason. I have had great support here from the coaches and my teammates.”
Freshman Marcus Williams
How has the adjustment to college gone so far?
“It’s a lot different playing here. It’s a new level, and college ball is what gets you to where you want to be. I’m here to win and do what coach tells me.”
Junior Mustafa Shakur
“We have a great team this year. We have more of a team this year. We’re going to be more balanced. The points are going to come from myself, Hassan, Jawann. It’s going to be a lot of fun for the fans this year and I’m really pumped up.”
How has your game changed from last season?
“I have improved a lot, worked on shooting, and have taken on a leadership role as an upperclassman.”
Junior Kirk Walters
“I’m just ready to get going and start practice.”
Bring to your position
“This summer I have gotten better on my left-handed hook which makes it easier to go both ways.”
Freshman Mohamed Tangara
Why is he the least-liked person to guard during practice?
“I learned from (Salim) Stoudamire. He pushed me to play well. We were always helping each other to become better. If we play hard in practice, it will be easier during the year.”