March 11, 2002
Head Coach Lute Olson:
Opening statement on NCAA first-round opponent UC Santa Barbara:
"If I were to discuss the style of play, I would say they probably prefer a more controlled half-court offense. They are a man-to-man team, but they will also play a little 2-3 zone. They haven't been a pressing team. I would expect that they would prefer to tempo the game and keep the number of possessions down. The average is 66 points a game, so that is really how they play, a lot of half-court offense. They have excellent shooters as evidenced by their three-point shooting percentage. They, in their tournament, primarily used seven or eight guys. But on the year, they have 10 guys in double figures in minutes."
"We will go over (to Albuquerque) early tomorrow to try to get acclimated to the altitude. We'll work out here today and we'll work out in a high school facility over there on Tuesday and we'll have a regular practice time Wednesday."
"When you look at the West regional, the number of conference champs that we're talking about certainly indicates that the region, I think, is the toughest of the four. As far as the number three seed, I thought that after winning the tournament we would get a two because of our strength of schedule. There are a lot different RPIs, so the one that the tournament committee uses is not the one that the print media puts out or the net."
"I'm sure the thing that made us a three was the two losses to Oregon because Oregon got a two seed. It's probably unfortunate from our standpoint that we played them as early as we did, with our young team having to play them on the road up there before Christmas and then when we played them back here again we did not have Luke Walton. It's as evident to everybody else now as it was to our staff at the time that trying to play without Luke is very difficult for us. Our schedule is ranked second in the country so it can't be a case of not playing a tough enough schedule. But, I would assume that that had to be the reason-the two losses, early losses to Oregon."
"I said after the tournament that from a momentum standpoint and an experience standpoint for our young guys, it was a positive in those two ways. Depth becomes important, especially at altitude it becomes more important."
On Gonzaga's seeding:
"I'm not on the committee, but I was surprised. I thought Gonzaga would be one of the top four seeds in the West. But it shows you when you play in a league where there are not ranked teams, it's out of your hands. You can't do anything about that, I don't know who Gonzaga played in the non-conference. But I know that they have tried to make that non-conference schedule very difficult. But once conference starts, you can't do anything about it. And we've seen that too, back in the earlier years in the Pac-10 when we didn't have any ranked teams. Our RPI went down as the season progressed. This year because of the ranking of so many of the teams, the RPIs of all of us in the league ended up getting better as the season went on."
"The draw is certainly a difficult draw. But there isn't anything you can do about that, you just play it."
"They (UC Santa Barbara) are definitely a tempo-oriented team. But it ends up that if you have fewer possessions per game you just need to be more efficient. You've got to get good shots and you've got to take care of the basketball. You end up playing defense for a lot of time each possession. The thing we need to make sure of is that we don't become frustrated by having to defend that long when you're anxious to get the ball back. I would say that would be the biggest problem just making sure you stay patient."
"They (the three juniors) will be able to give the freshmen a good idea of what it's all about and they've done a good job of that in the past. When you look at our opening the season in Madison Square Garden, there had to be a lot of input from them to the players as far as what to expect. That'll be very true with the NCAA Tournament."
"We've had a lot of time being played by a lot of freshmen. If you take the freshmen group as a core, there are a lot of minutes that have been put in by the freshmen. I said some time ago, maybe a month ago, that Salim Stoudamire doesn't play like a freshman anymore with his composure. If you take a look against USC, he got that 29 points by taking just 10 field goals and missed one shot the whole day and on that one he got clobbered. He didn't get hit on the elbow, he got smashed all the way on the forearm and everything. I couldn't believe that one didn't get called. His movement without the ball was the best out of any of our guys on Saturday. He did a great job of moving and making hard cuts. Right now, he moves better without the ball than our veterans."
On taking over the nation's longest active streak of consecutive tournament appearances:
"Maybe we start with 10 points on the board (laughter). That's about as much good as it does you. It's a great compliment to the program that it's been 18 years. If you look at it, it's not a university in a populated area with a lot of players around. That's been the amazing thing that we've been able to stay consistent from year to year. Certainly if anybody were going to say that strong was about to be broken, I'm sure it would have been this year that that would have happened to us."
What are your thoughts on the Pac-10 Tournament?
"It's the difference between night and day compared to what the Pac-10 tournament was before. Just hiring John Kasser, the corporate sponsorships, the draw. It's certainly not a neutral site, not anymore than when we played up in Phoenix. That was not neutral either because most of the fans there were Arizona fans. There are still a lot of things that need to be worked out. We showed up at a certain time to play that game on Thursday night and end up sitting in the locker room for an a hour and a half. Something needs to be done where we stay on schedule. Obviously, the lack of FOX Sports Net in the team hotel and the media hotel, somebody blew it on that."
"I thought the Hall of Honor dinner on Wednesday night was great. If you look at the tradition of this conference, there isn't a conference in the country that could have had the people inducted that this one did. When you take a look at Coach Wooden, Coach Newell, then to have Admiral Dick there from the 1939 Oregon team, Hank Luisetti was not there, but to honor him, that was an unbelievable night. That was a big plus for the tournament that was not done previously."
"What needs to be done to develop the tournament is that they need to cut down the conference games. It is ridiculous to go through 21 games in your conference. I know that there are a lot of schools that are looking at it from the standpoint of if we play non-conference games, we're not going to draw as well as we draw during the conference. Throw that out, let's take a look at the athletes. And make a decision based on what's best for them for a change, instead of for the budget."
How did the the Pac-10 Tournament help out the younger guys?
"It was obvious how well they (Will Bynum and Dennis Latimore) played when they were given a chance to play. I thought they both played really well the first two games. Stoudamire was playing so well that we couldn't get him out of the game. In that type of game with changing defenses, you have to keep Jason on the court. So it cut down on the time for Will, but he's feeling more and more comfortable out there."
"The one thing about Isaiah (Fox) off the bench is that Isaiah brings more fire into the game. He's that type of guy. We just need to continue to look at that as what is the best thing for us as a team in that spot. It's been quite a while since Channing (Frye) has lost the tip so that's an advantage to have him in there. What Isaiah has indicated is he doesn't care whether he's there when the ball goes up. It gets down to who's going to be in there when the game's on the line rather than at the start. It seems right now that Isaiah off the bench gives us a lot of energy."
On Luke Walton's passing:
"At his size, he can see and find people better than the guards can. It also allows Salim and Jason to move without the ball and utilize the picks and get to open areas. A lot of passes came as a result of Luke penetrating and being able to find the guards behind the screens."
On 1984, the last year that Arizona failed to make the NCAA Tournament:
"I know what we were doing that year. We were scrambling like crazy to try to get a head start on everybody on recruiting."
"The thing that happens in the tournament is that the field gets narrowed so quickly. You go from 65 to 64 to 32 to 16 by Sunday."
Junior Rick Anderson:
"I thought we would get a number two seed, that would have been cool. We have what is probably the toughest bracket. That will be a challenge. We have to rise to the occasion just like we've done all year."
On his recent rebounding performances:
"I decided to step it up and become an animal on the glass. I've got to keep that up."
"We're not very happy about the seed, but that's just how it goes. You just have to play through it."
"We've knocked off a lot of good teams this year. The freshmen have to realize how big these games are, but then again, they need to relax and just go out there and play. It's a nationwide chaos, the whole March Madness thing. Then you start playing."
On UC Santa Barbara and a potential second-round opponent in Gonzaga:
"We'll play tough against them, they will be a hard team to face. I'd love to see Gonzaga (in the second round). I'd also love to play against Dan Dickau."
Junior Luke Walton:
"Our goal is the Final Four. We're not here to win a couple of games and go home. We've had fun all year long and if we keep winning, we're going to have some more fun."
"It's tough, but you are going to have to beat good teams either way. If you go deep in the tournament, you're going to be exhausted and your body is going to ache but you fight through it."
"I think it (the Pac-10 tournament) got our confidence going for us. It helped our young guys to play in a one-and-done situation where you have to win."
On not looking past the first-round opponent:
"It's something you learn to do. As someone who has been knocked out early, it's the worst feeling in the world."
On Salim Stoudamire's shooting performances:
"He does that to us at least once a week in practice. If you're not on his team, it sucks."
Junior Jason Gardner:
"A lot of it (having such a successful season with a youthful team) has to do with Coach Olson. Being the underdog he always does well."
"I'm happy with my decision to come back. But it's not because we're playing well, it's because I love this team."
"The main thing is we'll have to put the defensive pressure on them (UC Santa Barbara), get in the passing lanes and not let them get easy shots."
"We always talk about getting back to the Final Four at the beginning of the season."
"We have to get a point across to the freshmen that just because you're a high seed doesn't mean you're going to have an easy game. All those 10, 11 and 12 seeds want to make a statement."
On possibly facing Gonzaga:
"It's a game away. But if we end up facing them, I'm not going to make it into me versus Dickau."
"You see so many upsets. Every time you advance, there's something to get more and more excited about. This team has worked extremely hard to get to the point we're at right now. These games are big games but we couldn't have played any bigger teams during the season."