Jan. 14, 2003
"I thought Thursday night Luke (Walton) really did a good job when you consider the length of time he's been off. It was very obvious to me Saturday that early in the game, from a conditioning standpoint, he got tired much quicker than he did on Thursday."
Do you feel that you are a better defensive team than a year ago?
"We're expecting that we'll have the same lineup out on the floor that we had on Saturday and start getting people to understand what their roles are. It was pretty obvious with the job that Andre (Iguodala) did on Doug Wrenn (that we're better defensively). When I was asked at the start of the season how I could see this team being better, I said we'll be able to do a better job matching up with three quick guards on the perimeter as opposed to what we did a year ago. If you recall, to try to match the quickness (of other teams), we had to go with three guards and then we got hurt badly on the boards. This time around, that should not happen."
"We'll face that same situation (of Iguodala defending a player like Doug Wrenn) with (USC's Desmon) Farmer in the three spot. He's quick, he shoots the perimeter three and he puts it on the floor really well. And of course you know what (UCLA's Jason) Kapono's potential is when he's hitting. We're hoping that what happened with Wrenn here will be something that we can count on from a defensive standpoint when we'll be able to utilize the freshmen in those defensive situations."
What are your thoughts on USC?
"USC is a very athletic team. The Craven twins both take the ball to the basket very well. Errick (Craven) is a better perimeter shooter than Derrick (Craven), but Derrick does a nice job of running the point for them. (Rory) O'Neil has been shooting the ball well and the thing is that he's a good face-up shooter like Rick Anderson is. So it's not just a back-to-the-basket thing he does, you have to guard him out on the floor. They are a team that can be a problem for anyone."
How far is Luke Walton away from being 100 percent?
"(Luke Walton) will be the first one to tell you he's in really bad condition. I would hope that if we could get through this week without any further tweaking (of his ankle) and we can get 20 plus minutes out of him, (he'll be close). For him to get to the point where he should be had he not been injured, it's going to take at least two more weeks."
What does Rick Anderson mean to this team?
"(Rick Anderson) is our best offensive rebounder. His perimeter shooting has a big effect on the teams we've played because if they've got two big guys, one of them is going to have to come out to guard him. He gets his hands on a lot of balls and he's been doing a better job staying out of foul trouble."
Where does this team need to get better?
"If we're going to reach the goals that are established, we have to have the freshmen not play like freshmen any more. We're not too far from halfway through the season. Those two (Hassan Adams and Iguodala), along with Ricky, should be our best offensive rebounders, but they're nowhere near where they should be. If you do your job and do it well, then we, as a team, will be that much better. It's maturity and concentration on what needs to be done. The reason that they're not good offensive rebounders is that they're not consistently going after every ball."
Based on what has happened at UCLA this week, are the pressures in coaching too high?
"UCLA is like a Kentucky or a North Carolina where there's going to be a tremendous amount of expectations with those jobs. With the three I mentioned, I can't imagine any tougher job because you're expected to win, and win them all by very large margins."
Describe the recent performance of Dennis Latimore:
"Dennis is a doing a great job for us. The great thing about Dennis is that he comes out every day and gives you 100 percent. It's just nice to see someone being rewarded for his efforts. You don't see any difference with Dennis if he played seven minutes the night before or he played 27 minutes. Dennis is very strong and very physical, so he can play either of the inside spots. If we're getting more productivity out of him, we'll use him at the five or the four - it doesn't make any difference because those two positions are interchangeable and he can defend a big, strong guy. That flexibility in his game will allow him more minutes."