Nov. 28, 2001
Comment on the selection of Rick Anderson, Jason Gardner and Luke Walton as tri-captains:
"We had a team vote on whether the team wanted a captain, co-captains, or tri-captains and the team voted unanimously for all three juniors to be the captains. The juniors have done an unbelievable job of helping the young guys adjust to what we do, but also to college and life in general. We're pleased with what we thought would happen did happen with the team vote."
How has the time been spent since your last game on Nov. 17?
"As I indicated after the Texas game, we had been on such a fast track because of the early games and six of our scholarship kids are freshmen, that there were an awful lot of things in practice that were fast-tracked. Any time you do that you're not going to get some of the basic things taken care of. We have been spending time on trying to polish some of things we do offensively. Defensively, some of the things that have given us a lot of problems in game situations, we've spent a lot of time on. That includes dealing with on-ball screens and getting up into the ball handler. The guys have worked hard."
What were your thoughts after Sunday's exhibition game?
"The Nike Elite team was very good. They took their best players from different teams they had playing around the country. That was a challenge, but it was great in that we were able to what we had said before the game...that we would try to keep four freshmen on the court as much as we could. We tried to have either (junior guard Jason) Gardner or (junior forward Luke) Walton in because they are perimeter players. It was important to have one of them in with the young guys."
"I said at the time I though the exhibition game came at the perfect for because it gave us a chance to see some of our younger guys at a time where they had a little bit longer time to adjust and get a feel for what this level of basketball is all about. The exhibition was key for us because it kept us from having a big gap without a game."
What are your thoughts on Kansas and Saturday's game?
"Kansas will present a number of problems for us. First of all, they are a very experienced team with four returning starters. Like they always do, they do a great job with their offensive execution. They do as good a job at getting the ball inside and with (Drew) Gooden and (Nick) Collison. They have what I think is as good a twosome as there is in the country. They are guys that can score facing up, in the post and they run the court well. The match-ups will be very key for us and a lot of the time there will be two freshmen trying to gaurd those two guys."
"They create problems on the perimeter because all three guys can hit threes and can put the ball on the floor very well. Defensively, they create a host of problems especially at this stage of the season. They'll reach you with full-court pressure, half-court traps, they'll double team the ball as they cross half court. Those are the kind of things maybe later in the season you are more capable of dealing with. The key thing is because they hit you with so many surprise elements, you have to have guys on the court that understand at any moment they have to break early because of their defensive pressure."
"Taking care of the ball will be huge, I think, in the outcome of the game. The second thing will be doing a good job on the boards. They get to the offensive glass really well."
Any progress on the starting lineup?
"As far as our lineup, we are not sure what we will do. We have a good battle going on in practice between (freshmen centers) Isaiah Fox and Channing Frye. Both of them are going to play a lot. As to who is going to be out there when we start the game, we won't really know until Friday's practice."
On Jason Gardner:
"He's much more vocal now. The thing I'm happy to see is if somebody isn't doing their job, he's not going to wait until a timeout to tell them. If somebody doesn't rotate on defense, he'll let them know right then and there to get the job done. I've mentioned before I don't think we've had a point guard put together three games in succession against quality opponents like Jason has. We've had great guards in this program, but when you look at the shooting percentage, the shots he's hit and the leadership he has had to display on the court with so many young guys, Jason has been fantastic."
"The main difference between this year and last year is that he had veterans around and his role was to make sure everyone got the ball. This year he needs to have more shot attempts. The good thing is that he is not taking bad shots. He is creating shots and getting open looks.
Is there a reason why a you've had a lot of recruiting battles with Kansas?
"I think any time you are in elite status like these two programs are in, you are going to draw attention from the top recruits. I think the strength of both programs is that kids want to play in places where basketball is important. Kansas' tradition is second to none. If they get a kid on campus, you are going to have your hands full."
Explain how Kansas starts three guards yet have a plus-nine rebounding edge:
"They do great things in their offense to make sure they have at least one good rebounder on the help side of the glass. They're good athletes and they're quick athletes."
How will the freshmen respond in their first regular season home game?
"Generally speaking with young kids, they'll respond better at home than on the road because of the security of the home crowd. That has probably been the biggest surprise is how our young guys have responded at Texas and Madison Square Garden. I'll say the big reason for that is the leadership of the juniors."