Quotes from Herb Sendek's Tuesday Press Conference

Feb. 26, 2008

On only being as good as your last game against Washington and how that affects the upcoming UCLA game...
'We felt good about the way we played against Washington, but we face an enormous challenge on Thursday night. We have already played this team once. We were just talking down the hall that I think at one point we were down 100-2. I don't know that promotes good feelings, we did feel good about the way we played against Washington.'

On having a one game at a time philosophy and if that changes this time of year when people are starting to talk about what if's...
'I personally do not invest a lot of time and energy there. That kind of talk, it seems now, begins at Thanksgiving. Don't we have the first brackets that come out at Thanksgiving? This non-conference game is do or die, we have been going through that in one way or another all through the season. That is good because it creates interest in college basketball. It is fun to talk about. It is exciting. As for someone like myself I will be much better served trying to figure out what we need to do on Thursday.'

On talking to Rihards Kuksiks' parents on the phone, and Rihards' use of the Internet to keep in touch with family...
'I have not met his parents. I have talked to some of his family members on the telephone. It is amazing how the Internet brings people closer together in unbelievable ways, I have a cousin who lives in Sweden and he is able to talk to family members all the time on the computer.'

On the time it has taken Rihards Kuksiks to become the player they thought he would be...
'There is an adjustment factor for any freshmen, let alone someone who is from Latvia, a long way from home. He also did not have the advantage of being here this summer like the rest of our freshmen did so his first day here was mid-August. It takes some time to get your bearings and learn the ropes a little bit.'

On Rihards' adjustment from playing high school basketball in the U.S. to playing college basketball in the U.S....
'It has helped a great deal to at least get assimilated to some measure through your high school experience. I put myself in his shoes or other players that I have coached from other countries, I think back to when I was 18 years old and I don't know if I could have done that. I talked to one of my players from NC State this past week that joined us from Turkey for his college career. I can remember when he arrived on campus for the first time as an 18 year old from Turkey. I just said to myself I can't imagine going from Pittsburgh to Istanbul to go to college at 18. I probably would not have made it through the first week. I have great admiration and respect for the courage it takes to do that.'

On if and how he communicates with Rihards Kuksiks' parents on the phone...
' Yes, yet not all of his family speaks English, which makes it difficult. I really haven't spent much time talking to them. Most of the recruiting has gone through his high school coach and Rihards himself.'

On Saturday's game being the last home game for Antwi Athuahene and the impact of that...
'Antwi is a young man with tremendous energy. He talks a mile a minute and he is by far the funniest guy on our team. He has a great personality, has given us tremendous leadership this year, as well as provided that constant infusion of energy that you need as you go through the season. I think our guys identify him as one of their key leaders.'

On UCLA being the biggest defensive challenge...
'It is right now, it is the next defensive challenge. We had a difficult time doing anything well against them the first time.'

On baskets going in on transitions and if that was part of the problem during the UCLA game...
'It would be kind to limit it to any one thing. It was an avalanche that hit us. We contributed to it despite UCLA's greatness. We made sure that we took out our chisles and made sure that we hit a few rocks ourselves to increase the flow of the avalanche. We more then helped them along, not that they needed it.'

On what he wants people on the east coast to know about the ASU men's basketball team...
'The best thing about our team is the guys. The kind of people that we have on our team are easy to like, to cheer for and pull for. I think in a lot of ways they represent what is good about what we do every day. To me that is easily the most engaging and best part of our team.'

On getting the guys focused on the game Thursday against UCLA after the last time the two teams played...
'I don't think that is too difficult. I think our guys are very attentive right now. They are very respectful of the challenge they face, they are eager to do better, so I think we are fully attentive and completely present.'

On the challenges that Kevin Love presents...
'He is a great rebounder. Any ball that hits his hands is his. He is so strong; he is so powerful and incredibly physical. He scores around the basket, yet he continues to display the ability to step out and shoot the basketball from long range. He hit a big three against us. In no time he has become notorious for his long high outlet passes. He has clearly left his print on college basketball.'

On tracking touches on defense as a staff and if James Harden is the team leader...
'I would think that he would be. We call them deflections and we keep track of them. There are five categories within the heading of deflections. A block shot, a steel so in other words I may get a deflection and you pick up the ball or intercept it, that's a steel so on the same play we actually had twp deflections, a recovery saving a ball from going out of bounds or getting a loose ball. Between deflections, steels, recoveries, block shots and tips from behind (when you tip the ball from behind on a dribble or transition), those are the five subcategories to deflections. James gets his hands on a lot of balls, he has good instincts, he has long arms so he is good at that.'

On normally milking the shot clock offensively, but not doing it during the game against Washington and reasons for not doing so...
'We played the exact same way Saturday as we have all season. We made a few more shots. Our intention is not to milk the shot clock, it is to execute and get a high quality shot. Whether that comes in one pass or if it takes us six or seven, the defense usually has a lot to say about that.'

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