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Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 07, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 6, 2006


Opening statement:

Regarding the review of the Washington game, I thought we played extremely well.  As I had expressed to you after the game, the out of bounds situation is something we run all the time, we’ve run all year long.  It’s the first time we have not been able to get it in, well it got in, but it got stolen.  On the final play, they doubled Mustafa [Shakur] and would not allow him to get the ball, so it ended up in Hassan’s [Adams] hands.  When he came off the screen, I think he felt the time was such that he had to release the shot.  As I said before, I would have preferred that would have been Marcus [Williams], but it wasn’t.


As Stanford is concerned, we have played them twice and have had extremely competitive games both times.  Through the years, it has always been very competitive.  I would expect that this one would be also.  I would anticipate from Chris’ [Rodgers] play on Saturday that he would start at the two-guard spot.  Off the bench we would have Daniel Dillon and J.P. [Prince] at the guards and the same as it’s been in the front with Fendi [Onobun] and Bret [Brielmaier], in whatever order is called for whether it’s the four-man or the five-man.


How does Adams’ situation change the approach against Stanford:

It doesn’t change anything.  Our success against Stanford has been due to our ability to put pressure on the ball.  Anytime you look at them, you obviously have to deal with [Stanford guard Chris] Hernandez, which we haven’t done very well, although we did force him into a bunch of turnovers last time.  [Stanford center Matt] Haryasz is a huge problem inside.  I think [Dan] Grunfeld after being out with that knee injury, I’ve felt the last few games he’s been playing like the Grunfeld of old.  They have made one change to the lineup, with [Anthony] Goods at the off-guard spot, instead of [Mitch] Johnson.


On rallying the team when there is the loss of a player:

I think that all gets down to the character of the team.  I think we have guys of character, and I think they’ll respond.  It’s a huge loss, obviously, since he’s [Adams] the leading scorer and the key to us in a number of different ways.  Mustafa [Shakur] and Ivan [Radenovic] have stepped up big time in terms of on-the-court leadership.  I expect them to respond. Respond well.


On the trials and tribulations that have occurred this season:

It’s been a difficult year, but it goes with the territory.  There are some years that everything goes very smoothly, and some years where things don’t go very smoothly.  This would be one of those years, because of problems and injuries.


On the loss to Washington:

It’s one thing about losing a game and another about playing well.  We led that game for 39 minutes.  I thought we played with a lot of character.  I thought it was a great college basketball game.  There was a tremendous amount of effort from both teams.  Everyone can look at the last play, but if you look at the free throws [Arizona was 8-for-13] the game was over if we had shot a decent percentage from the line.”


On Marcus Williams not winning the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year:

I guess all of us have a bias towards our own players.  That’s surprising to me.


As you know, we can’t vote for our own players.  As far as our staff feels, he definitely deserves it.  I’m very surprised [that he didn’t win it]. I try to vote for the guys who I feel deserve it.


On the decision on how to discipline Hassan Adams:

It’s team responsibilities and a reminder as always, with all of us as coaches that there are privacy issues.  Regardless of what we might feel, the policy has to be followed.


On whether or not there are team rules, regarding run-ins with the law or DUIs:

We have team rules, yes.  We have a general set of rules that we follow.  Those are private to our teams and our staff.


In the past you’ve kind of dreaded the conference tournament.  Do you look at this weekend as a chance to showcase your team?

We’ve showcased that throughout the year.  That’s something that’s always present at any tournament.  If you look at how the experts talk about it, there are a certain number of bubble teams that can improve their position in the conference tournament or the bubbles can burst.  They can also improve their seeding.  There was talk of North Carolina as a three-seed.  With [its win over Duke] and the conference tournament, I don’t see any reason why they can’t move into a two-seed.


On Mustafa Shakur’s improvement over the last few weeks:

As long as Mustafa understands what his greatest contributions can be to his team: get the ball to open people, not force plays.  Over the last three weeks or so, he has adjusted to what we feel is the best way for him to play.  It’s not a role of having to score a lot of points.  We’re more concerned with the number of assists and the assist-to-turnover ratio.  Take the ball to the hole when the opening occurs.  Saturday he did a great job of coming down, and he came under control at the free throw line.  That’s something that has not been present before.  He’s a great kid who wants to do the right thing, but it’s hard to go from being an attacking point guard in a high school situation to understanding the importance of balance.  The quickest way for another team to get a fast break is for the point guard to give the ball up or go in and miss a shot, because that’s going to be a fast break.  I think he’s really getting it in terms of what he needs to do for this team.


On whether or not Staples Center will continue to host the Pac-10 Tournament:

I don’t know.  I think everyone has known my opinion on conference tournaments.  I think it was done because Fox stepped up with more money.  The interesting thing is that if you consider the amount of money we’ve brought in and the cost of the Men’s and Women’s Pac-10 Basketball Tournaments, there’s not a lot of profit involved.  I’ve always said it’s important to talk about class attendance, but on the other hand, teams could miss a couple days of class [because of the tournament].  Four teams may miss part of today’s class and tomorrow’s.  I think it’s asinine to play 21 games against conference opponents.  The Big Ten Conference cut its conference games to 14, so the most they can play is 17 [conference games].  In terms of being able to schedule non-conference opponents, it hurts us in RPI and the conference is not rated highly.  As I said three years ago, the only way we could improve our RPI was to play Stanford.  If we played anyone else, we would lose ground.


I don’t know if somebody could win four in a row.  There isn’t a team that can’t win one or two games, but it would be difficult to play their way in and to win four straight games.  Getting back to the question, my personal feeling is that if we’re going to have the tournament, there should be consideration for Phoenix, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Portland and Seattle [as potential sites].  I think it’s the only fair way to do it.  I know it’s based a little bit on the fact that the Big East Tournament is held in New York City, but the distance those schools have to travel to New York as a whole is a different ball game from what we have in the West.  I know they wouldn’t have it in Tucson.  We had it here one time, and that was the only time they really made money.  They’re not going to have it here, so fine, but let’s do it in Phoenix, Southern California, the Bay Area, and all of those locations.  I’m sure it doesn’t have anything to do with Fox Sports having their corporate headquarters in L.A. [smiles]


On Isaiah Fox’s potential to play:

I don’t see [Isaiah Fox] being able to play the rest of the year.


On Chris Rodgers playing his way back into the starting lineup:

It’s something we’ve been trying to get across for four years.  Catch and shoot the open shot.  Don’t put it on the floor when four guys are standing around.  People don’t think he can shoot, but he’s a great shooter.  If he takes the shots he should shoot, he can shoot.  There’s never been a question about the defensive end.  The times things have not been positive have been on the offensive end.  You see what he did on Saturday, and my feeling is he could do that more often than not.  Even in the practice situation, he shoots the ball so much better when it’s just catch and shoot.


On if there will be a lack of leadership without Adams:

The leadership has come from Hassan, Mustafa and Ivan.  We’ll have two that will provide good leadership. 


The last few months have been like a roller coaster.  How would you describe it?

A roller coaster [laughs].  I guess it’s probably not different than it is in anyone’s job.  If business all of a sudden isn’t going well, it goes with the territory.  I don’t feel I’m any worse off than anyone else.  I don’t need any additional stress in my life, and as long as my dog will walk with me in the morning [I’ll be ok] and she doesn’t complain.  She doesn’t even know if we won or lost on Saturday.


On the traditional festivities following Senior Day:

Every year we have a team get together with parents and friends, and obviously none of the players have anything other than Gatorade or water at our house, if that’s what you’re getting at.  [Adams] stayed [at McKale Center] for an hour and fifteen minutes to sign autographs.  I’d like to see that in print.  He and his family did not get to the party until 9 o’clock or so.  His mom said that he signed autographs for an hour to an hour and a half after the game for every kid who signed up to get it.  That’s an indication about Hassan, more than anything else.  Most of the guests [at the party] were gone by about 10 o’clock.


I’ve never seen him not give autographs.  Over Christmas break, I had the entire team go over to the children’s rehab center at UMC [University Medical Center].  I found out afterwards that Hassan and a couple of other guys went to another rehab center afterwards.  No one asked him to go, but I think that’s typical of what he’s like.


On the possibility that many teams have a chance to win the Pac-10 Tournament:

I think any of the top six could win it.  I think it would be a long shot for any of the play-in teams to win it, because they have to play four straight days.  It’s a huge advantage for [UCLA and USC] that the tournament is held at Staples Center every year.  That’s why I feel it’s unfair.  If you’re going to have it, make it available in the three other states and in Northern California.

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