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Lute Olson's Weekly Press Conference Quotes
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: March 04, 2003
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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March 4, 2003

On the Wildcats' Bay Area sweep:
"We really are very happy with the way our guys responded at California and Stanford. Those were severe challenges, and I thought our guys showed great poise and great confidence in staying with what we were doing as a team."

On sophomore guard Salim Stoudamire:
"I was happy to see that Salim (Stoudamire) was recognized as the player of the week. He certainly deserved that for his clutch play on the offensive end, but the other thing that you sometimes forget is the kind of job that he did defensively. With (Joe) Shipp, if you look at his numbers in the second half, the second half was not as good as the first half. I think the reason was that we had to sit Salim out a lot in the first half because of foul problems. At Stanford, you look at (Matt) Lottich, and he had a hard time getting looks. When we ended up having problems with (Julius) Barnes penetrating so much, we had Salim move over to him, and he basically brought him to a halt. Not only was Salim's offense outstanding in the two games at Cal and Stanford, but his defense was every bit as critical."

On winning the Pacific-10 Conference title:
"It's the first goal. I think it's a true test of how good a team is if you can play 18 games and play half of them on the road. That's a real test. Now, we want to see what we can do about the NCAA Tournament."

On Oregon State Head Coach Jay John:
"I think Jay (John) will get a great reception. I think people know how important he was to our program for the years that he was here. He is a Tucson guy, he went to Salpointe, and he's a UA grad, so I would think that people would give him a great welcome back."

"He has done a great job, and the thing that he is really focused on is trying to bring back the tradition of Oregon State basketball. Their program has been one of the very elite programs in the country through the years, and that's what he has been trying to focus on. It's fortunate that he came in with a senior-dominated team, with (Philip) Ricci, Brian Jackson and Jimmie Haywood, which then allowed him to get this year started on a very positive note. He knows that he needs to have a great recruiting year. The reason I think that Jay is so good for that job is that it takes a guy that' s going to get out and look under rocks and everywhere else that you have to for players."

On Oregon State senior forward Philip Ricci:
"He (Philip Ricci) is just a very efficient player. He is a really good shooter; he can shoot it from 15 or 17 feet, and he can really power the ball to the basket. He has great touch around the basket, and he has great hands."

On Arizona's seniors (Jason Gardner, Luke Walton, Rick Anderson):
"I think you would have to look a long ways to find three guys who have been more important to this program. When you look at the numbers these guys have put up, I'm not too sure that there have ever been three seniors who have scored more points, more assists, more rebounds and more wins. I think they are over 100 wins in the years that they have played. Senior day is always a tough day because you hate to see guys like that go on, but you're also happy to see them go on. They have done a great job of representing the program, and they have really been fabulous young people in representing the University of Arizona. Those three seniors have really been outstanding, and it is going to be hard to say goodbye."

"If I used one word to describe Jason (Gardner), that's winner. He doesn't care about stats or anything else; he just cares about the final score. Luke Walton makes everybody on the court better, and you would have to go a long ways to find a guy that does the things that he does for his team both on and off the court. There is no question that we as a team are better when he 's out there whether he's full speed or not. Ricky (Anderson) has added so much to us because on the offensive boards, he does a great job of keeping balls alive. He does an excellent job on the defensive boards, and the fact that he can shoot the ball so well from outside has meant a lot to what we do offensively. He really spreads the defense, and that opens up driving lanes and opens up things in the middle."

"Luke (Walton) and Jason (Gardner) are really close. They are really close as a threesome. Off the court, Luke and Jason are best friends, and I think that was important for Jason when Gilbert (Arenas) left and important for Luke when Richard (Jefferson) left. They both lost their best friends, but now they've become best friends. Just going through four years of college and being the point guard, Jason has come out of his shell naturally that way. It's been good for him to be around Luke because he is such a great communicator."

"It's tough because during the course of four or five years, you really get close to these kids. While they are here, they think I'm awfully tough on them, but once they are gone they usually will come back and talk about the affect that the coaching staff had on them. As coaches, we are very demanding of the players, and some guys do not always take that in the right way. I've always said that the true test of what a kid gets out of the program is really shown probably five to 10 years after they have gone through the program."

On senior forward Luke Walton:
"There were a lot of people who were not all that sold on Luke, but I was not one of them. I watched him from the time he played his freshman and sophomore years (in high school), and I just loved the fact that he was such a team guy. You could even see that in his early years. He just understood the game, and he just made the people out there better. He was not a good shooter, so he worked really hard at developing that skill. Defensively, the person he reminded me of was Steve Kerr. People said he (Kerr) was not quick enough to defend, but no one could not get around him because he was just so smart and a play ahead of the game. Luke is that same way. There was never any question in my mind that he was going to be a really good player."

"Prior to the time that he got hurt, he had really worked on cutting down turnovers. He is still having more of those than he should have, but he is an intuitive type passer. Sometimes he doesn't think about whom he's throwing it to because it's so quick. As a passer, in order to be a great assist man, you really have to know your teammates, and know when and where and what type of pass you need to throw. Luke needs to be on a team with four guys that can really catch because you never know when it's coming. Luke has a way of instilling confidence in his teammates."

On Arizona's chances for claiming the Pac-10 Conference's Most Valuable Player award:
"The biggest concern is the splitting of votes between the two (Jason Gardner and Luke Walton). It may be that Jason was really outstanding against one team, and Luke (Walton) was outstanding against another team. Jason has had a great year for us. In my opinion, the most valuable player in the league should come from the championship team because that is really where it gets down to showing how valuable you are in helping the team win the championship."

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