Dec. 18, 2002
LSU has been playing very well. Some of the concerns with them are similar with what we had with Texas. They are an outstanding rebounding team. We stepped up and did a really good job against Texas and that will be one of the key things at LSU. They are athletic and very quick to the ball.
The reason we schedule games like this is to get into tough places to play, and based on a couple of years ago, there aren't many tougher places to play than at LSU. On that particular day, they were so much better than we were. We weren't able to make much of a game of it. We'll be much better off this time around because of our depth. I don't remember all of the circumstances from last time, but I think we had six players available for the most part.
Comment on the play of LSU's Ronald Dupree:
Dupree is a really inside and outside player. He gives them great flexibility. Whether he's at the three spot of the four spot, he's a big factor...quick, tough, competitive. He's a different player from (Luke) Walton, but he means as much to them as Luke does for us.
Are your players getting more used to not playing with Luke Walton?
None of us like not having him out there. Our players love playing with him, but you can't worry about what you can't change. On the other hand, the freshmen are getting a lot more minutes due to his limited time and I think we've seen some really good strides from Hassan (Adams) lately. The thing we were concerned about was that Hassan wasn't going hard to the boards before, but now we're seeing a much more aggressive Hassan Adams on the glass. Andre (Iguodala) certainly has that ability as well. We still need for him to be more intense.
We'll probably go with Hassan based on what we've seen recently (at the small forward position). We'll have to see about Will (Bynum). The thing we really like about Will is when he comes off the bench, he just gives us instant energy. With Salim (Stoudamire) out there and being able to go full-time, it makes that more of a possibility. Will has indicated that he is a guy who loves coming off the bench.
Salim's conditioning is getting better with each day. He still needs to be involved enough in practice where he's making better judgement on his shots. If you look at his shots the other day, he missed a couple where he was wide open and you normally expect them to go, but that could have something to do with his conditioning. There was definitely one shot he should not have taken, but the rest were good shots.
How much will it help in your preparations for LSU that you just finished playing a team like Texas?
I think it's very valuable for us because LSU is very physical, as was Texas. Texas likes to go up and down a bit more than LSU does. LSU is very efficient in their half-court offense. That doesn't mean they won't run, because they will. With Texas, a half-court offense is the last thing they want to do and that's not the case with LSU.
What are your memories of that trip three years ago (Jan. 29, 2000)?
We didn't get to the hotel until almost midnight (due to plane difficulties) and then it was an afternoon game. We weren't in great shape for that game, but I don't think it would have made a lick of difference. On that day, they were so much better than we were. We could have been healthy and on time and it would not have made a difference. They were a much better team. That was a tremendously talented LSU team.
How crucial is this game with just two weeks left before the start of Pac-10 play?
The closer you get to league, the more important it becomes. I think the think that you have noticed with us through the years is that all we want to do is make sure we're getting better each time out. I think we are. If you take a look at how we defended on the half court against Texas, I thought we did a great job, as did they. To hold a team like Texas in the 30 percent shooting, that's a result of god defense, not a bad shooting day. Our work on the boards was the most positive that we've had all year long. We're getting better and that's all I'm concerned about.