Head Coach Lute Olson
Talk about Hassan Adams play as of late:
“The thing I have said about Hassan (Adams) over the last five or six games, is that he has played best the best he has ever played for us. Saturday he did not play a good game. The energy level wasn’t there; the mental focus wasn’t there. It was obvious from the first three or four possessions of the game. That is so unusual from Hassan because he is usually the warrior out there. You can’t hit on four cylinders out of five. You have to hit on five cylinders. Whoever the five guys are on the court, they all have to be playing. In part, it may have been a case of where Salim (Stoudamire) was scoring so well that some people started watching. Channing (Frye) passed up some wide-open shots that he can’t pass up because as soon as he hits that then they have to adjust defensively to what they are doing on Salim. I feel very much like I said after the game: it’s a bump in the road and now you learn from that bump in the road because that game was a freebie.”
How important was the extra playing time for some of the guys off the bench?
“For anybody on our team, the guy that gained the most from it was Jawann (McClellan). Confidence-wise, he got extended minutes. I think it was very valuable for him. We need to get Chris (Rodgers) back on track, which I think we will.”
Is Jawann McClellan at the point where he can really contribute to this team?
“When a kid gets to this point he is no longer a freshman. He’s at however many minutes of practice in good, tough competitive practice situations. The thing that he can bring to us is that he can really shoot the basketball. I think his defense is at a point now where he is not a liability like he was earlier in the year. Now the next step is to maintain that intensity. If you’re in four minutes, give us four minutes at full speed and we can get you a breather.“
Is Jawann a better rebounder now than he was in high school?
“He does a great job on the boards now. He’s probably as active of a rebounder as we have. He didn’t play much defense in high school, but that’s not unusual. When you’re the big scorer you’re told not to get into foul trouble and that’s easy to respond to that. You can just not guard anybody and stay out of foul trouble. The tournament was by far and away most valuable to him and I think to Hassan.”
Are you pleased with how Ivan Radenovic has played?
“He’s really been playing very well. We got hurt with the unbelievable quickness of Washington; the quickness to the boards. Usually you’re going to find teams that send four guys to the boards, occasionally. But I think they (Washington) may be the only team in the country that sends five guys to the boards because they are so quick that they can recover and keep you from getting many fast-break opportunities. Their quickness definitely bothered him (Ivan). He can shoot. He can guard. We’re looking at Utah State and we’re still trying to decide if he’s going to guard the four-man or the three-man. It’s nice to have that kind of flexibility. He’ll use his length and he does a nice job with his hands. The biggest adjustment for someone coming from Europe to here is the athleticism and the quickness with which the game is played. I think he’s done a good job of adjusting.”
What do you know about Utah State?
“I couldn’t tell you anything about Utah State right now. We have tapes on them now. As we speak, the players are watching the cuts from different game situations going through the primary offensive sets that we have to deal with. They are a 2-3, old Michigan State zone going back to Magic (Johnson) and those guys. The setup is a 1-2-2, but on the first pass it’s a 2-3 zone. They really play hard. They are very active. Their cuts are hard. When you watch them on offense it’s a lot like watching Stanford with (Josh) Childress and (Matt) Lottich and those types of plays and those types of cuts. (Utah State coach) Stew (Morrill) comes from that (Jud) Heathcote family tree of Mike Montgomery, Kelvin Sampson, and Jim Brandenburg, for those of you that have been around for a while, from Wyoming and San Diego State. They’ll change up between man and zone. When they play man-to-man they play very well, very aggressively.”
What will the practices be like this week?
“Today’s practice will be scout team stuff for the first half of practice. Second half of the practice will be our offense versus what they do defensively. Similar things tomorrow and then Wednesday will be a focus on a lot of shooting. Both days will be intense and very similar.”
What does the Washington loss mean to you?
“I think it was a good wake-up call. If you’re going to do well, you have to be mentally prepared to do well. We played awfully well in stretches, and the thing that hurt us was our inability to cut down on their second chances. They didn’t get a whole lot of good shot opportunities on the first shot. What killed us was the second and third opportunities and some penetration to the middle really hurt us even though we had broken down the individual tendencies. The three starting perimeter players put the ball on the floor over 80% of the time to the middle. It’s easier said than done. When you know Nate (Robinson) goes to the middle 84% of the time, keeping him from going to the middle is another thing. He’s so quick and it’s hard to get him to do something other than what he wants to do.”
What will be the key to bouncing back from the loss?
“The key thing is challenging shots, which I think we can do. The second key is not giving them second opportunities. There were times that Washington shot 25% and still got the basket. They would miss the first shot and get three more shots and get the fourth one.”
How significant was the loss to Washington?
“I think we’ll look back at that and say that was a key game for us. We learned some lessons. You have to remember we played well, very well, with the exception of on the boards. When (Will) Conroy hit that three that put them ahead for the first time, it was last second. That shot was taken with one second on the shot clock. It wasn’t like it was an open shot. We had pressure on him. A couple shots Jamaal Williams made, I’m not sure he could see the basket. We had unbelievable pressure on some of those shots. We’re a very good team and I think we’re going to show that.”
Are you happy with the flexibility of your lineups?
“Jawann gives us flexibility. He can go to the three and Hassan can go to the four. If we need quicker guys in those positions than say Kirk (Walters) coming in, then we can do that. If we are facing a big team, then we can use Kirk. Jawann gives us a lot of flexibility with what he has done. I think with our guards we need to have Chris step up because of his experience, and I think Jesus (Verdejo) has been making really good progress. When you get to the tournament, it’s usually going to be eight guys that are going to carry you. Which eight probably depends on the circumstances of who you are playing.”
How important is point guard play in the NCAA tournament?
“If you take a look at it, there are teams that have won championships without good big men, but I don’t think you could find a team that hasn’t won it with good point guard play.”
Arizona Player Quotes
Senior Salim Stoudamire
“[I was] surprised by our bracket.”
“This is the most exciting time of the year. Everyone wants to win and we’re trying to get that ring.”
“I don’t think Boise will affect me. Places like Albuquerque affect me. I’m glad we’re in Boise.”
“The coaches are finally understanding that he [Jawann McClellan] does positive things on the court and can help us down the stretch.”
“[It’s good when] we can get fresh bodies in and know we won’t be loosing anything.”
“Me and Channing [Frye] want to get there [the Final Four]. We haven’t experienced it yet. We want to get there.”
Senior Channing Frye:
“I remember when Jason [Gardner], Luke [Walton] and Ricky [Anderson] said at this time a few years ago we need to step it up, then we had a wake-up call against UCSB. But in the NCAAs you always have to step it up.”
“We’ll see what we need to work on. Were going to try to move on from that [the Washington] game. We have a new season to look forward to.”
“It’s a one-game season now. I’m not worried, more excited than anything. I’m ready to go. After we go through practice, everyone will realize this is life or death.”
“Regardless of what the bracket looks like we have to play good teams to get to the Final Four. You never know who will be playing big”
“They [Washington] beat us. That’s what they get for beating us [a No.1 seed]. I really don’t care what our seed is.”
“We will prepare for them [Utah State] just like it they were any other seed. Everyone is like a wild animal in a corner at this time of year.”
“We’re a lot better when Jawann [McClellan] is coming off the bench and scoring. Then I’m getting some points and boards and Salim [Stoudamire] is getting 20-plus. We’re a good team when everyone is contributing and involved.”
Freshman Jawann McClellan:
“Coach told me before the Pac-10 Tournament that he needed to me step up.”
“I’m going into this tournament excited. I got some of the feelings of what it’ll be like at the Pac-10 Tournament, but I don’t know what to totally expect.”
“I’ve always wanted to come out here. I remember watching Khalid [Reeves] and Damon [Stoudamire] back in the day (1994). I never could have dreamed that I could be playing for this team in the tournament.”
“Coach Ros (Jim Rosborough) told me, that they need me to step up for the NCAA Tournament. Everyone from the trainer on down has told me about it and what I should expect.”
“The only thing I know about Utah State right now is that they beat Utah before Utah played us. We’ve got Arizona across our chest, so everyone is excited to play us.”
Sophomore forward Ivan Radenovic:
“Last year was my first tournament. This year, like Channing has said, we are going to play our basketball.”
“The loss to Washington showed us how we need to play basketball. We know we can play great basketball.”