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Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes
By: Arizona Athletics
Release: January 09, 2006
Photo Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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Jan. 9, 2006


(Arizona this week: at Oregon State on Thursday, Jan. 12; at Oregon on Saturday, Jan. 14)


Opening Statement:

Oregon State, first of all, is a very veteran team with [Chris] Stephens back.  He’s a real problem with the way he shoots the ball both from the field and from the line.  Chris Rodgers will have the assignment, but as we have with most teams there will be a lot of switching, so it will be the responsibility of all the perimeter guys [to guard Stephens].


“[Sasha] Cuic is a sophomore now, last year he reminded me a lot of Ivan at the same stage.  He’s good inside and out, a little bit bigger than Ivan [Radenovic].  [Nick] DeWitz gave us fits a year ago.  We’ll have Hassan [Adams] on DeWitz and Ivan on Cuic.  [Marcel] Jones played at Mater Dei [High School], good quickness, good jumper and he’s been shooting the ball pretty well for them.  [Lamar] Hurd has been a starter since he got there.  [Jason] Fontenet is a fifth-year senior, went to New Mexico State, initially, and then sat out a year.”


“There was a big win for them on the road against Cal.  They played very well, that was not a fluke, so I’m sure they have a lot of momentum coming home, because they have been a very good home team through the years.”


On the return of sophomore G Jawann McClellan:

“We expect to have Jawann [McClellan] back.  He has his final exam tomorrow, and feels very strongly going in.  We’re expecting him to be ready, but we won’t find out until four o’clock-ish on Wednesday.  We expect him to accompany us at that time.  It won’t affect the starting line up.  He’ll be coming off the bench until he’s game-ready, but it will give us another experienced player.  It’s always difficult when you haven’t played for a while, but he’s worked very hard on the floor with us and has done a tremendous amount of conditioning in the strength room.  He has his weight down to pretty much where we want it.  He’ll give us another perimeter shooter and rebounder.  Defense will probably his biggest adjustment, but it’s not like we’ve changed that much from a year ago.


“He’ll help us a lot right away.  If you look at what he did a year ago in the second half of league play and in the NCAA playoffs he was a key player for us.  He’s used to the pressure.  I don’t think there’s any question he’ll have a big second half for us.  He’ll be our first wing man off the bench.


On the parity in the Pac-10 Conference:

“It doesn’t make any difference who you play.  It’s harder when you’re playing on the road, but [all Pac-10 teams] are capable of beating you at home, too.  You look at UCLA, they shoot 61 percent against us, then go up to ASU and struggle [from the field] like crazy.  ASU could have won that game, just as easily as UCLA did.  Then you look at Washington State-Washington, and we go up there and we break Washington’s [home winning streak], then they go and lose another one.  I don’t think anyone is safe anywhere.  Oregon State hadn’t won a road game in, how long, then they go on the road and beat the team that was leading the league at that point [Cal].”


On the Oregon State fans:

“I think the support that Oregon State gets at home, in the past, helped us.  As far as fans, they’ve always been very enthusiastic for the Beavers, but the more full that arena is the better it is for us.  We don’t care who they’re yelling for, just as long as they’re yelling.  If we’re not ready for [road noise] right now, I don’t think we’ll ever be ready.  It’s not only in the Pac-10, but around the country, you can see the close calls and the rest of it you can see the parity.  West Virginia knocked off Villanova, Connecticut got beat last week, Kentucky got absolutely drilled at Kansas.  Things are a lot different when you get to league than they are in the non-league because you have to play everybody at home and away.  A lot of times, you look at these teams’ non-conference and some of them hardly left home at all.”


On Chris Rodgers defense:

“Chris is the best on-ball defender we have ever had.  Chris’ weakness defensively is away from the ball sometimes he doesn’t rotate, and he relaxes a little bit.  Part of it, probably, is that he puts so much energy into guarding the ball, but he’s the best we’ve ever had. It drives [the offensive opponent] nuts.  Every once in a while he gets called for a reaching foul, but not very often.  He has great feet and quick hands, and he loves the challenge defensively.  No one has the affect on the court that he has on the defensive end of the court. 


“He’s always had that mentality since he got here.  In high school, he averaged 35 points or something a game, so defense was somebody else’s job in high school.  A high school coach doesn’t want him to foul out, so he puts him on a lesser player.  I’m sure he was a good defensive player, but he didn’t put the emphasis on it like he does here.”


On Kirk Walters’ presence in the key:

“Any time there is a shot put up in the basket area, it needs to be challenged by Kirk.  He still wants to block shots instead of deflect shots.  That’s the biggest problem you have with a shot blocker.  A good defense player is a shot deflector, not a shot blocker.  If you whap [the opponent’s] shot out of bounds, then they still keep the ball and get to run their out-of-bounds play.  What have you accomplished?  That was the great thing about Loren [Woods].  A lot of times on his shot blocks, he’d knock it out to our guards to start a break or off the glass where we could take off with it.  That’s a skill Kirk still needs to develop.  Offensively, he still needs to make the easy play.  He gets better every day in practice.


“Kirk can shoot the ball, and he’s a good face-up shooter, but he doesn’t have the confidence that Channing [Frye] had.  Kirk had limited amount of time as a freshman and he came out of a redshirt last year, because we didn’t get the kind of support we expected in the middle.  We knew that winning the whole thing that we needed to have more support in the middle.”

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