Fiesta Bowl Classic Press Conference Quotes
Dec. 27, 2003
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson Quotes
In regards to our team, we are healthy, but we had some of the normal travel problems with returning back to Tucson. Mustafa (Shakur) couldn't get back until much later, so we will be starting Chris Rodgers at the point position and the rest of the line up will remain as it has been.
This tournament is important to us as always because it is the final two games before we get started with league play. As a result, I think it is important that we play well and we pretty much know now the rotation that we will be using.
One of the reasons we set the tournament games up like we do with the day in between is that it is much more productive in terms of your second game, because you have one more day to prepare for it just like we would with our Pac-10 schedule normally being Thursday and Saturday.
It will be important to us to play well. Right now we are looking at some tape on Liberty. They have good athleticism. They have a really good player in Gabe Martin. There is some weight and size in the four and five positions for their team. They are pretty much a veteran team with three seniors in the front line. Martin will be defended by Andre Iguodala and the rest of the match ups will be pretty obvious with their size. We will have Hassan (Adams) on (Louvon) Sneed. With the guards, the sizes are pretty much identical to ours, so we will match up that way.
They like to get the ball up and down the court. They do a nice job with their offensive sets and will create some problems from a defensive of standpoint. They do a good job of screening. One of our biggest problems to this point has been communication. I think it is getting better. The more of those situations we face in game situations the better off we will be in league play.
Can you comment on the play of Hassan Adams up to this point of the season?
He has played really well. I think the thing that has surprised people is how well he is shooting the ball. But, he has really been shooting the ball well all year long. We have been giving him a lot of freedom offensively in terms of moving inside and out, whether he is at the power forward spot or not.
On the addition of Ivan Radenovic...
I anticipate that Ivan can substitute for either Hassan, Channing (Frye) or Andre, and if we sub him for Andre, then Hassan will move to the three spot. It really gives us a lot more flexibility. Ivan runs the court well. He can handle it in the open court well, so he really gives us some of the same things that Hassan has given us only with more size and will give Hassan the opportunity to play his more natural position.
How is Ivan's grasp of your offense?
Ivan is very intelligent and picks things up quickly. I think the biggest adjustment will be our guys responding and being prepared for his passes. He has done a nice job. We have mixed him up in the line up and our guys love playing with him. He is not in the same shape that our guys are in, although he works tremendously hard.
What is the talk of the Fiesta Bowl Classic among the participating teams?
They love it. When I talked with Homer (Drew), he was ecstatic about having the chance to come back this quickly. Valpo is well coached and are good people. There was an opening for Liberty and they were able to make the change in their schedule to be here. It is really getting difficult to get high-profile teams to come in because it costs them two games that they could have the income from two home games. We could never afford to do it.
Liberty Head Coach Randy Dunton Quotes
We're certainly very excited to participate in the 19th annual Fiesta Bowl Classic. For us at Liberty, we are committed to moving our program to a solid mid-major level. We've been very aggressive with our schedule, as you can see. It's put our kids in a lot of adverse situations heading into league play.
We're back to heath now. It's good for us at this point of the year. We're going to take the next week to really try to develop our chemistry and our team resolve at a little higher level.
Obviously, we recognize that Arizona is one of the top programs in the country. It's good for our kids to come in and see that and recognize all that goes into a major college basketball program. We feel like this tournament reflects the excellence of your community and your program as well. Everything that's been done has been first class and we certainly feel like the rest of the weekend will be that way as well.
Did you have to adjust some things to get into the tournament? You were a late addition.
No, we still had some games available. We did well enough in our league last year where the scheduling is the second-toughest thing in Division I other than recruiting. Even though we may not be a high major yet, we've made great strides in the last 20 months. We won 14 games and finished second in our league, so we had a lot of people shying away from scheduling us with four starters back. This is a great opportunity for us.
After playing the likes of Duke and Seton Hall, do you think you'll be intimidated by the surroundings?
I would be disappointed if our kids came in and were intimidated early. You still have the questions of athleticism and talent, but our kids were very, very good against Duke in the first half. That wasn't a fluke. We flat played head-to-head. It was 27-20. Our resolve just has not been what I'd like it to be.
We've gotten to the place where we've played solid basketball at stretches this year. We're going to fall back to the Big South Conference next week. We're hoping to make a big run. They (the league) changed the format of the tournament to highest seed hosts, so that's going to stiffen our schedule a little bit. Next week at this time, we'll be playing our first conference game on the road, which is a big game for us (Jan. 3 at Coastal Carolina). That's the biggest game on our schedule to date, not the one tomorrow.
I really believe that Liberty can be what Valpo was. I think that Liberty can be a mid-major. We've got some talent, but you have to try to score over (Channing) Frye and that gets a little tough. You've got (Hassan) Adams blocking shots. Just that little length and quickness can cause a disparity on the scoreboard. We're hoping to be very patient tomorrow, and we're hoping that they aren't very patient. (Laughing) Shoot it quick fellas, and we'll try to rebound it.
If we can rebound with them, then I think there will be a lot of possessions where Liberty will look good. But if we don't rebound with them and am impatient on our end, and let Arizona get in transition, especially with Lute (Olson) playing with those four perimeters, it's tough. They can screw your matchups up in terms of pushing it.
This is a highlight for our kids. This tournament certainly has nothing to step back from anyone from the way that you carry yourself and the way the tournament is executed. This is a great tournament. We'd love to be back again some time in the future maybe with a little more respect behind the name.
Louisiana-Lafayette Head Coach Jessie Evans Quotes
We're excited about being here. We know that when we selected to play in this tournament it is one of the class tournaments in the country. My senior class has been here before, so they were looking forward to it.
We know that we're going to play excellent competition. Valparaiso is no different. They are an excellent basketball team coached by a legend in Homer Drew. We're looking forward to the challenge.
We've played some really good teams and we think that we've gotten better. Valpo is probably a cross between Dayton and Xavier. The three teams we've lost to is Georgia Tech, Dayton and Xavier. We've gotten better. We just need to learn to put two halves together. Against Dayton and Xavier, we were up at halftime. We have to lean to finish games, and we will. Certainly, Valpo will afford us the opportunity to do that.
Hopefully, we can use this as a springboard. That's why I like playing competition like this, in tournaments like this, because it prepares you for what we've got down the road in the Sun Belt. Butler was an NCAA Tournament team that last time we played here.
We were contacted to play in this tournament during the summer, and we happened to need several games. I knew what a class tournament this was. I knew our guys would really enjoy it, so I jumped at the opportunity. We moved some things around so that we could schedule this. The Fiesta Bowl people do an excellent job.
Senior Guard Brad Boyd:
What do you remember from your previous visit in December 2000?
They were both good games. We lost to Mississippi State (90-80) and to Butler (74-63) by about the same amount of points, but they were two good games. Those two teams were tougher than most of the teams we played in our conference. If we could play with these guys, we could play with anyone in our conference.
Do you find it challenging to get ready for a tournament like this right after the holiday?
We know where we are in the first five minutes or so. We just need to shake the rust off. We haven't played in a while and everybody has been eating a lot of food (laughs). The first five minutes we should get into our groove and, hopefully, everything will be alright after that.
What do you know about Valpo?
We watched some tape on them and they have good inside guys. Their point guard (Miguel Ali Berdiel) is pretty clever and he is big (6-foot-6). If we play good, team ball and play hard like we usually do, hopefully we can come out with a win.
Valparaiso Head Coach Homer Drew Quotes
We are thrilled to be back in Tucson. We were here a few years back (2001) and the hospitality of the people just overwhelmed our team and our coaching staff. When they invited us back, it was a very quick yes. We are very pleased to be back in the tournament. We're thrilled to be back down here.
Our team is very young. We have two seniors and one junior, and nine freshmen and sophomores. They are a very coachable group. We really want to improve every time that we play. This is what we wanted to do. We play a lot of people, but we want to get better every time out with this young basketball team. You'll probably see 10 or 11 people play. We're playing the 15th toughest schedule in the nation, so they are getting a baptism under fire.
We're playing some very good teams and we've got another with UL-Lafayette tomorrow. It's been a homecoming for (UL-Lafayette head coach) Jessie (Evans), but he brings a very good basketball team in here, and their 3-3 record is deceiving because they have played some very good teams that have been ranked.
The thing with tem is that they have three seniors and a junior in the starting lineup. That experience is a huge concern for us. (Brad) Boyd is just a picturesque shooter. If you want your children to watch a shooter, Boyd can really shoot the basketball. His range is really unlimited. He steps across halfcourt and he is in shooting distance, and he shoots better than 40 percent from three-point range. He is a real force in shooting the basketball.
But they also have other experience in that perimeter group. They all average in double figures and they are all solid because of their seniors. They play well together and that experience will be a good challenge for our young players to handle.
Did you alert the guys to the Fiesta Bowl Classic welcoming committee at the airport?
We wanted them to enjoy it. I remember two years ago when we got off the plane and the band was playing, and one of our guys says, 'Is there a celebrity in here?' We were looking around to see if there was a celebrity close by. Then the host tells us, 'No, it's for you.' And that got the kids excited. Kikas (Joaquim Gomes) was here with us (in 2001) so he kind of educated the freshmen and sophomores as to what was going to happen, but they were still impressed with the kindness and the hospitality of the people. And they loved not having to carry their luggage to their rooms (laughs).