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Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 11/10/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Pre-Virginia Game

 

Are you ready for the opener?

This is really very early to do this, but we had made the commitment a couple years ago to play in the opening of their new building.  Usually, it would not (have been this early).  I think the rules have changed since that time in terms of how early you can start.

 

It’s there, so how ready, I don’t know.  I’m sure they look at it sort of the same way.  They’ve had their exhibition, and I’m sure they feel as we do where it would be nice to be a week or so later.

 

Do you have a sense of how you will select your top eight?

We’re still trying to get down to that.  At this point, the five we started last night, Daniel Dillon is certainly someone that is going to be a key for us.  He comes off the bench ready to go and defends really well, so he’ll have a big part in this one, especially with the talent of the two Virginia guards.

 

Nic Wise has played very well...shot the ball very well.  Probably the question right now is which of the big guys would be the first guy off the bench if were looking at eight or nine.

 

Kirk Walters will be in there automatically?

No, not automatically.  It’s obvious that he needs to get in condition.  That’s not his fault, that’s a result of the injury.  Jordan Hill has done a nice job.  You can take a look at it and see that there are some things that one guy brings to the table that somebody else doesn’t and vice versa, but right now we’re not set on our top eight.  There are still a lot of questions.

 

Could you talk a little more about the Virginia guards:  J.R. Reynolds and Sean Singletary?

They are both really outstanding players.  I think they work very well together because of their skills.  With Reynolds, he’s an outstanding shooter and can handle it well, too.  The primary thing that he brings is his ability to put the ball in the basket.  Singletary has to be one of the top point guards in the country.  He’s quick, he penetrates well.  You can’t give him the outside shot; he shoots that well.

 

As a pair, they could challenge any of the top guards in the country as one of the best combinations of point and two guards that you could think of.  Their game begins with the guards.  That’s the first thing you have to be concerned about playing them is how you’re going to stop the penetration and still be able to challenge shots from long range.  They both have great range.

 

Do you think Mustafa Shakur is making a big deal of this game?

Oh, I think it’s a big deal.  Any time you play against someone that you’ve known and played against a lot, it’s more than just another game.  I would expect the same thing is true with Singletary looking at it.  This is a great opportunity for him to show what he can do.  I think Mistafa feels the same way.  In the end, though, it’s going to be which team ends up on top as a result of the leadership of the two point guards.

 

If you look at what he’s done and what has made him an outstanding player in those (exhibition) games, it’s been Mustafa’s ability to find open men and the ability t get the ball down the court.  Defensively, he’s put a lot of pressure on the opposing guard.  I think with Mustafa has matured to the point where he recognizes that it’s how much better he makes his team, not a one-on-one scoring battle.  It’s a case of maturity, of recognizing what’s important.  What’s important is how your team does.

 

How big of a game is this?

Everything you do in the non-conference is aimed at making you better for the league season and, hopefully, the postseason.  How you play in a difficult place to play.  How you deal with away crowds.  We’ve always tried to schedule games against good teams in difficult places to play because it prepares us for places we’re going to have to play in the league.

 

This may shape up as one of the toughest season openers?

It’s a matter of how much we allow the home crowd to affect use.  The court is still the same size and the basket is still the same height.  I’m counting on our veterans and the poise that they have to deal with that.

 

If you take a look at our schedule through the years, there are a lot of things we’ve done with our schedule that others haven’t done.

 

All we’ve heard is that this (John Paul Jones Arena) could be the top college facility in the country.

 

Does it help that Virginia hasn’t played a game in front of a full house either?

The only thing I can think back on in my experience is when we opened Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.  It was a black tie event.  Everyone was great.  The only problem was that we didn’t win (Jan. 5, 1983; Michigan State 61, Iowa 59).

 

It puts a lot of pressure on the home team.  There is going to be a lot of extra emotion for the home team, which will put added pressure on them, but I would think it’s going to be a very competitive game.

 

It says a lot about things when one of your best players (Ivan Radenovic) could sit for a lot of minutes and there wasn’t a decrease in production:

The caliber of competition is a lot different from what we will be facing on Sunday, but I though we moved the ball well.  There were a lot of different combinations out there.  As a group regardless of who we had out there, they seemed to play well together.

 

I thought Jordan (Hill) came in and did a nice job for us.  I thought Daniel came in and gave us a lift right away.  We got a lot of guys minutes again.

 

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