Jan. 20, 2003
Arizona State had a tough loss at USC that very obviously could have gone either way. They are playing very well right now. They have nice balance and an inside threat with (Ike) Diogu. He's shooting very well from the line and the field. He's a big body that posts up well and can use both hands. They really look for him a lot. It's almost like every time down, he's going to get a touch.
They have a nice balance there because if you try to help from the inside, Tommy Smith is one of the most talented players in the league. He is very dangerous when he puts it on the floor. He does a lot of driving to the basket and is active on the offensive boards. He and Diogu are going to be real keys from the four and five positions. (Curtis) Millage is having a really good, solid, year, and they've been using (Donnell) Knight, so they have some size at the three position that is very aggressive on the glass.
They are very sound. Defensively, they play pretty much full-court man pressure. They have shown some 2-3 zone, but I think, in our case, the biggest thing will be to make sure we meet the ball when coming off screens because they deny passes very well. They are very aggressive.
Regarding Arizona's health:
Hassan Adams turned an ankle against USC on Thursday and was not able to practice on Friday, and still has quite a bit of swelling. We'll probably not have him do much today, and we'll do the same with (Luke) Walton. Their conditioning work will be done in the training room.
Comment on ASU's Ike Diogu and his skills as a post player:
He prefers to use his right hand, but he does use his left hand well. The biggest thing is that once you get behind him, it's very difficult to hold your position. If you get in front of him, he does a good job of moving you up the lane and they do a good job with their high-low passes. He has great hands. Pretty much everything he touches, he gets. There aren't a lot of places you can drop off to help because of the way Smith goes to the boards, and as active as Knight is, it's really kind of hard to come with doubles. You need to be really active defensively. He takes the ball aggressively to the basket, so you have to challenge his shots, and he's drawn a lot of fouls when you do that.
Is this Rob Evans' best team?
This is far and away his best team since he's been there. There is a lot of experience with Smith and Millage had an outstanding year a year ago, Donnell Knight, (Shawn) Redhage, (Jason) Braxton, and (Kyle) Dodd are all veteran players.
With your return to the No. 1 ranking, do you feel like this is your most difficult week of the season?
Regarding the No. 1 ranking, everything there depends on who gets beat ahead of you. Frankly, we are not even close to No. 1 yet in terms of how we are playing. We've not been as consistent as we need to be. Some of that is due to the fact that we've not had (Luke) Walton and (Salim) Stoudamire together very much, and they are still not in condition.
Once we get everybody healthy, we may be able to look at ourselves as being a more consistent team. At this point, I would say that there are a number of teams that are playing better basketball than we are. You take a look at what Pittsburgh is doing against really good competition. Kansas had the early losses, but over the last couple of weeks, they have been as good as anybody just as people expected them to be at the start of the season. Kentucky is playing really well at this point and so is Louisville.
We're just trying to get better game by game and try to get healthy people on the court so we can do a better job offensively. We're turning the ball over too many times. We're not shooting the ball the way we need to shoot it. The pieces are there, we just need to get all of the pieces healthy and then do a better job in our half-court offense. Defensively, we've been playing well. For the most part, we've been very strong on the boards.
We've gotten a lot of help from Andre Iguodala, who is really coming on strong now. Hassan Adams has played well. We need to get him healthy. We've gotten good help from the freshmen. It's just a matter of time before we get things together.
Right now, Arizona State is playing very, very well. I would say that next to California, they are the toughest opponent right now that we'll face in the league. Obviously the league game is much more important to us. Playing at Kansas, we know how tough that's going to be, but I think that will be a good measuring stick for us in terms of how we're playing and what we need to do better to continue building for the end of the season.
Andre Iguodala seems to be getting more confident offensively, is that the case?
Andre was a typical freshman lazy-legged shooter and they all have to learn. Sean Elliott was the same way and practically every freshman since then. They are constantly facing too much pressure on the shot. He's finally getting himself in rhythm as he is catching the ball and he is getting the shot up much better now. He's been shooting it much better in practice, so it's just a matter of time before that shows up in a game situation.
Andre is our defensive stopper off the bench right now. We used him against (USC's Desmon) Farmer and (UCLA's Jason) Kapono, and that was our intent for the weekend was for him to start our rotation.
Comment on the play of Rick Anderson Saturday:
He played really well against UCLA. He's always on the boards in general, and he hit some threes. What we're after from him is consistency. We need him on the boards because he is one of our best rebounders, and we need for him to hit shots. Defensively, he is getting better.