Pac-10 Men's Basketball Coaches Teleconference

Jan. 20, 2010

Listen to the Coaches Teleconference


Arizona Associate Head Coach Archie Miller

On having a good feel for Arizona State’s matchup zone
“Arizona State’s defense is one that they tweak and adjust for each opponent per season. I don’t think it’s ever the same. It’s always improved. It’s a terrific defense and the numbers speak for themselves. It’s tough to score on them for 40 minutes consistently. I don’t know if we will have a better read than anybody else would. Hopefully are team will be ready to compete and play on both ends of the floor which will give us more opportunities on the offensive end and not just in the half court.”

On difference on ASU’s matchup zone this year compared to previous years
“I haven’t watched a whole lot of film in the past couple years. In terms of the way they play, it looks to me that they definitely have a team identity on defense. They have five guys really connected and working together. They really don’t have guys taking possessions off on defense. When you watch them play, they are a team with a lot of experienced guys. They have guys that have played that defense for a number of years and their young guys that come in really have a good blueprint on how things should be done. They look like a very experienced, committed and connected team on defense.”

On taking an extra day off this week
“Our travel day was technically a day off on Sunday. I’m not really comfortable having that day off. It was a long hard weekend. We have a longer week. It’s gets tougher when the year goes on because we have guys banging hard everyday. School is back in session so it gives our guys the opportunity to get away and go to school.”

Arizona State Head Coach Herb Sendek

On how they shut Washington State G Klay Thompson down when they played on Jan. 10, 2010
“I don’t know if we did anything special on Thompson. He is a great player and I think he is one of the best players in the country. Even the best players don’t always play the same way in every game. I don’t think we did anything in particular that we could draw mention too.”

On what they did try to focus on when preparing for Washington State G Klay Thompson
“He’s really a smart player. He knows how to play. He does a great job of playing without the ball, reading screens, understanding what the defense is doing, whatever you do he has the unbelievable talent to counter it, and obviously he is an elite level shooter, who also has developed the shot fake and put the ball on the floor. He has size. Even if you are standing there he has the size to get the shot off up and over you.”

On limiting WSU’s Klay Thompson, increases your chance on winning
“That’s true of a lot of teams. If you limit the best player on any team, you have a better chance of winning. I think that is universally the case in basketball at every level.”

On any team motivation after losing James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph to the NBA
“I don’t think that things are that constant for us. We had days where I wondered how motivated we really were. We have had our struggles. For us it’s a continuation of a process. By enlarge our team, like every team in the Pac-10, want to do well.”

Statically, the case can be made that this year’s team is playing better defense than last year’s team
“I don’t think you can put a lot credence into that. Our team is different and the teams that we are competing against are different. That can be very misleading. I think our guys have done a very good job of trying to get better. Believe me, when we watch the tape we have a great deal of room to improve and learn.”

On the current status of Jamelle McMillan
“Right now he continues to seek treatment for his left foot injury that he suffered against Oregon. Beyond that, his status is pretty uncertain.” 

On facing Arizona head coach Sean Miller and Arizona associate head coach Archie Miller
“I think, more than anything, our focus has to be on the game. It’s just like it any time we play. I really don’t think of it in terms of the other coach. My focus is usually on our team and how I can best help them win. Honestly, I have tremendous respect for Sean and Archie (Miller). I think they are two of the best coaches in the country and they do a terrific job.”

On what Arizona head coach Sean Miller and Arizona associate head coach Archie Miller brought to his staff
“They both brought everything. They are the total package. They have talent and skill in every area of our profession. We have our coaches in all aspects of the program and try not to label them.”

On what advice he gave Arizona coach Sean Miller about becoming a head coach
“I really didn’t offer any advice to Sean, or his brother Archie, to be honest with you. I think both those guys have been involved with basketball their whole lives. Their father was a tremendously successful coach and a real special figure in each of their lives. We were fortunate that they were able to help our program through the years.”

On if Sean Miller talked to him about taking the Arizona job
“I think the conversations that Sean and I have, or don’t have, are best left out of the media. You may ask him the same question and he may be more comfortable answering them. I think if it’s important, it’s a conversation that should stay between the two of us.”

On G Ty Abbott feeling more comfortable shooting the ball this year
“Ty is a good shooter. If you recall his freshman year he shot the ball well for us. And then for whatever reason he had that skid last year. He recovered towards the end of last season. Fortunately for us he is back to where he is capable of being.”  

On C Eric Boateng’s development this year
“Eric is a very important player to us. He is out starting post man and has the most experience at that position for us. He really has had some outstanding games. I think if you look back at the course of his career he has improved a great deal.”

On if one player has been the spark to playing better defense this year
“I like to think that all the returning players have continued to improve, but at the same time we are trying to teach the fundamentals of defense to the new players. There is always something gained and something lost. For example, you lose a guy like (Jeff) Pendergraph who was really good on the defensive end, so there is something lost. At the same time, guys like Ty (Abbott), Derek (Glasser) and Jamelle (McMillan) have another year of experience under their belt. Hopefully they are better than the year before.”

Oregon Head Coach Ernie Kent

On why the Pac-10 is perceived to be having a down year
“I think because you don’t have a main team picked in the preseason top four or five in the country. In the past, that’s obviously been UCLA the last three or four years. Their not there so it becomes the Pac-10 is down. There has probably been other times that conferences have not had that either. The Pac-10 is young and is growing up. Everybody knows that we have lost some many picks to the (NBA) draft the last couple of years. It was perceived that way from a national level because you didn’t have that one team that was a preseason top four or five.”

On the danger that the Pac-10 may only get one team into the NCAA Tournament
“I think that has to remain to be seen on how the conference finishes. I don’t think you should just end up with just one team. I just don’t think that. I think this conference is getting better with each week, that’s why the games are so competitive right now.”

On Arizona State’s defense
“I think they are better at it because they understand it better. They have a couple of older guys still playing, but I think they are really good offensively. I think they are really skilled and they can really shoot the ball. They share the ball really well and have four guys that can shoot the three-pointer on you. I think they understand what they want to do offensively. They are patient and I think their offense has helped their defense.”

On how Arizona State has compensated with the loss of James Harden to the NBA
“I think there was that concern, but I think they are just playing excellent team basketball. It’s not that they weren’t before. They play really well together. They really share the ball and really give it up to each other. They have a lot of confidence with each other and consequently they are playing really well right now.”

On G Tajuan Porter’s recent struggles
“I think the biggest thing is he had those injuries early on that knocked him out of whack. He has missed a lot of games and has not been in his rhythm. He has pressed a little bit as of late. He needs to get back to letting the game come to him, but I think that he will be just fine and that’s where are focus has been over the last couple of days. He’s trying to do too much, but he needs to trust in the system and trust his teammates a little bit. The pressing is coming from him wanting to win. He simply takes it on his shoulders and ends up doing a little bit too much. He needs to relax and let the game come to him a little more. There have been times when he has taken over the game and has been exceptional, but anytime you get somebody in their senior year they handle things differently, but it’s not something that he has pressed in the past. I think when you look at the mental picture right now he just needs to relax and let the game come to him a little more.”

On the difference between the first two Pac-10 games (2 wins) and the last three Pac-10 games (3 losses)
“I thought we were really, really focused when we went out on the road. We were able to get some things accomplished and play with a little grit and we could of lost some of that in the last three Pac-10 games.”

Oregon State Head Coach Craig Robinson 

On their success last year against Cal, winning two games
“I thought we did a few things well and last year at this time we were trying to figure out how to win games. I thought our ability to execute out game plan was really what helped us. We were able to do what we wanted to do on defense, which was to prevent their three-point shooters from running the game and then on offense we wanted to be able to execute and run our stuff, make good cuts and shots, the whole gamut. It was one of those things where all of our work kind of culminated into a good performance.” 

On the squad’s success during the Bay Area trip last season
“Absolutely. Winning on the road in a conference like this makes you feel good, not only that you can win, but it makes you feel confident that you are doing things right. I thought after that weekend we had a complete buy-in from the team which you need in the first year when you are trying to change the culture.” 

On their success against ASU’s zone
“I thought we did a really good job of preparing for what they do and part of it is that we run a zone ourselves and are used to attacking it in practice. I thought we did a really good job of reversing the ball and getting open looks and for a change we were hitting open shots which really is key against a good team like Arizona State.” 

On Oregon’s zone vs. ASU’s zone
“The 1-3-1 is a completely different defense and you play against the match-up, you have to wait for the ball to get there and you have to play inside out and I thought we did a really good job of doing that.” 

On keys for Arizona against ASU’s defense
“Arizona has a better shooting team then we do. We have to work inside out because our outside shooting isn’t very good. If you have a better shooting team I think you can take advantage of it earlier on and force and change what they have to do.” 

On why ASU is playing so well
“I think when you lose two pieces like Pendergraph and Harden, a couple things happen. Number one, you play out of a sense of loss and feel like you really have to play hard to compensate for the loss and in the tapes that I have seen and in the game we had against them they are doing that. Their veterans are playing like veterans and are making very few mistakes. They cover for each other and they play extremely hard and when you have all of that working for you, you are hard to beat.” 

On the status of Roberto Nelson
“We haven’t heard anything yet. I am not frustrated at all. We as a staff don’t work with the Clearinghouse, it is through our compliance staff, and according to them the Clearinghouse is being very accommodating to everything we are trying to figure out here. There is no sense of frustration. Sometimes these things take a very long time, especially when they are complicated. Everyone is working as fast as they can. He is practicing with us and if he can’t play this year then we will have him for next year. I have sort of resisted from making any statement about it, but you are right, if he was cleared today we would have to sit back and make a decision on what would make sense to play him now or just wait for next year. Every day we get closer towards that and maybe they are making that decision for us.” 

On looking back after his first year as brother-in-law to the President
“It has been a change for my family and for our lifestyle, but it has been a positive change. It is a humbling experience to be a part of this family and to be so closely tied to what is going on in this country. I didn’t know how many team would react to being under this kind of scrutiny, because people know who you are. My team has done a great job of being ambassadors themselves. They handle the questions and the pressure superbly and I wish we were playing better, but given the limelight these guys are under they have done a great job. It has been mostly positive.”

USC Head Coach Kevin O’Neill

On his team and who is standing out
“I am just glad we are 3-2, having played three road games. Dwight Lewis has started to find his shooting touch which is great. And Nikola [Vucevic] has made some real strides. Those two guys jump out at me, but I am really happy with the way the team is playing. They have kept their focus in the face of some challenges here.” 

On Washington State
“I think they have a really talented team. They have a bunch of guys who can score and it looks like they have great chemistry. They really play well together.  They are a really explosive team and we will have to be at our best to win the game.” 

On if the sanctions are negatively affecting the team’s play
“I don’t think it is anything you are going to get over. We are disappointed. We lost a couple of games right after it was announced and people wanted to say it was because of the sanctions but it wasn’t. When you miss two tip-ins at the end of a game where you are down by one, you probably deserve to lose. Then if you give in at the end of a game against Cal, you deserve to lose. We don’t talk about it at all, we just talk about the next game and work hard in practice. I’m really proud of the way our team has reacted this season, because we had a whole bunch of adversity at the beginning of the season. We had guys academically ineligible and hurt so we are used to those kind of distractions, at the same time, I would be foolish to say the sanctions didn’t hit our guys hard because they did.” 

On their focus the rest of the season
“I am not really into that spoiler stuff. What am I going to do, pick out two teams and try to ruin their season? No. We have three guys who are never going to play college basketball again, all seniors, and their focus should be to do the best they can and our focus should be to win as many Pac-10 regular season games as we can.”

On what the win over UCLA means for USC’s program
“I think any time you can beat a flagship program nationally, like UCLA is, whether it is at their place or at our place, I think that helps you. But you are not going to change UCLA’s tradition, or for instance, Arizona’s tradition, where they can endure losses or a couple losing seasons and just move forward, because basketball has been proven for a long time. That is something we are just going to need to keep working hard at. We recruit hard and have a great class coming in and we are going to continue to recruit the best guys that we can. The more you win, the better chance of recruiting, no matter who its against.” 

On the possibility of a losing season for UCLA helping USC
“No, not really, I don’t see that. It is based on what we do and where we are in our program’s history. I actually admire Ben and like him a lot. The last thing I want is for anyone to do bad in this business, so that doesn’t cross my mind much at all. We just want to sell our program as best we can.”

Washington State Head Coach Ken Bone

On getting a split last weekend with the Bay area schools
“When you lose the first one, there are many positives, knowing you got the split and finished the weekend on a winning note. It gives you some positive things going into practice and the following game. If you  have your choice, its always good to end the weekend with a win. We did some good things against Stanford. We played some pretty good basketball on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately that changed in the second half, but we played some pretty good basketball for a few minutes that game.”

On the squad’s problem with slow starts
“I think it is a combination of many factors. Earlier in the season we had some games where we started out great, against some pretty good teams, but unfortunately as of late we have not had good starts, sometimes the first half or the second half but last week it was both. So that is a little frustrating.” 

On the health of the team
“Good. We are in good shape there.” 

On USC and the sanctions affecting them
“I was curious whether it changed their psyche and then they went on the road and dropped a couple, but they sure looked impressive against UCLA the other day. I just think Coach O’Neill is a very good coach and he has very good players. My personal opinion is that it hit them hard and it took a couple of days to sink in, but it sure looked like they were back at it against UCLA and playing very good basketball. And the way I look at it is no matter where they are at, it’s another game, a Pac-10 game and we need to be competitive.” 

On UCLA and their down year
“I think its just more Pac-10 play. We all know the history of UCLA and its not like we are going back to the Lew Alcindor days, they were very good just a year ago. They have the talent to be very good on any given night. We sat in the hotel room as a team and watched them play at Cal and they looked very, very good. That same Cal team came in here and beat us. We know how good UCLA can be. Coach Howland does a very good job and there is enough talent to be good, they just haven’t been very consistent.” 

On the team looking at this road trip to L.A. differently
“I don’t think so. I am hoping we approach every road trip the same way, no matter where we are going. I think it naturally would be exciting for kids to go back home, and I could see where Klay may be excited to go back home and play in front of his family and friends, but other then that it is a just another Pac-10 road trip.” 

On possibly shuffling the lineup 
“We are still looking at that. We didn’t practice yesterday and on Sunday, the six guys who received the most minutes in our games did not practice. They were there, but they didn’t do anything except watch video. We will be out on the practice court this afternoon and tomorrow and we will take a good look at that.” 

On the reasoning to shuffle the lineup
“ is really just the slow starts. I am just concerned that we are not able to bring the energy from the opening tip. And at the beginning of the second half I just feel like we just kind of come out flat. And that is obviously on me too as the coach and maybe I need to do some somersaults and flips but I can’t, so I’m not sure what else to do.” 

On why he thinks the team gets off to slow starts
“A lot of it has to do with the make-up, the personality of our team. We have a very quiet group of kids and they are not overly enthusiastic and they don’t have alot of highs or lows. Sometimes it just takes awhile to get them going. But we can’t do that. We need them to get fired up and get going from the beginning. It is too important.”

Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins

On why Pac-10 teams didn’t fair well against ranked opponents in non-conference play
“For me I think its a function of the youth in our Conference. I think it is still in the process of developing, having lost much talent last year. I think we are getting better. The first five, ten games of the season doesn’t always indicate where you will be at the end of the season. I think we are improving and I think these teams are better from some of those losses and experiences and teammates are really getting used to playing with each other. I know I have four new guys in the starting lineup. That takes time to get comfortable and develop that unity and getting used to playing with each other. You end up growing and getting better.” 

On what the Conference can do to get more teams into the Tournament
“All we can do is go out there and compete and continue and do better. Where you begin doesn’t necessarily mean that is where you will be at the end of the season. Teams get better and improve.”

On Zimmermann’s injury
“Zimmermann is out probably two to six weeks with a stress fracture in his foot. Its unfortunate He was just starting to get the concepts down and playing  fairly well and he will be missed.” 

On their lineup without Zimmermann
“We can go several ways. We can still go big or we can go with the smaller unit. It depends on who we are playing and what adjustments we need to make.” 

On last week’s road trip to the Washington schools
“I thought we got better from the experience. We ran into a buzz saw at Washington. They were very sharp, aggressive and they played well. Then we went to Washington State and we were up 10-2 early and then we had a couple mishaps and didn’t get back in transition to defend properly. That gave them some momentum and it kind of snowballed. In the second half our guys came back and made the defensive changes and handled the ball well. I think we were very good defensively, the effort was coordinated. On offense I think we were also in sync and we valued the possessions, didn’t turn the ball over and made the plays.”

On if he gave a fire and brimstone halftime speech
“I would say yes.” 

California Head Coach Mike Montgomery 

On the play of Washington 
“They were very good against us. Extremely aggressive, very physical and really got after us offensively. They really go after the glass hard and get second chances. I don’t know if they can sustain that the rest of the season they are in pretty good shape. Typically they have been very good at home, like most people. They seem to be able to be more aggressive, but they were very good.” 

On what makes Washington successful 
“In their case they are so aggressive to begin with, so for what they do, for a lack of a better term they are able to get away with some things more consistently at home. It allows them to be more aggressive. The crowd is very good there. They have 10,000 strong and they have supported them a great deal. I think for Washington it has been that was for quite some time. They are more comfortable there. The Washington trip is a tough trip. Getting to and from Pullman if its a Saturday game, you can have weather issues and it takes a long time to get there so you don’t have a lot of down time. Lorenzo has done a great job. They were probably unfairly criticized after they lost a couple, but they bounced back, which you would expect a good team to do. They probably had their best weekend of the year.”

On not having a ranked team in the Conference
“There has always been one or two teams that at the very least would have been considered in the top 20. You always had UCLA there and Arizona and then we were able to get there with Stanford for awhile and then some other teams were getting their head in there. So there was always somebody, if not two then three, and this year there just doesn’t appear to be. So, no I don’t remember a year like this. I think certainly a big part of it is the one-and-dones. You go out there and get premier players that make you a better team and then they are gone. Even here with Ryan Anderson, but at UCLA and USC had quite a turn-around. If you had all those guys there would be five teams in the top 20. I think that is a big part of it. Keeping players of that caliber at least through your junior and senior year would make a big difference.” 

On if the Pac-10 can get the usual five to six teams into the Tournament
“Well that is going to be difficult. We kind of made our bed in November and December. The Conference is not as bad as people made it out to be. Some teams had some injuries, or had some kids that weren’t available to them at first that make the teams better. I think the games that teams lost early, the ones that people who don’t know teams out west very well is going to hurt us in the long run. There is not much we can do now that we are only playing within Conference, and this perception has been perpetuated by everyone writing that there are bad teams then we can’t afford to lose to those people. If four or five teams separated themselves significantly from the rest of the pack that would make a big difference, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.” 

On Oregon
“Maybe they are a little streaky sometimes but Armstead is really a good get. I really like him and Porter has always been a difficult kid to guard and then with Dunigan inside they really have the ability to score the ball. Their pace is good, maybe they have been a little inconsistent, but they are young. They don’t have a lot of juniors and seniors and with they youth comes some inconsistency. They will have some great wins, maybe they will have some losses that will make you shake your head but they will have some great wins.” 

On Oregon’s style of play and maturity
“The style is the same. They are up and down and spread out. I think the style has been pretty similar for years. Dunigan is better in his second year and they are better, there is no question about that. All those kids who were freshmen last year are now sophomores and have gotten a year under their belt. They were great players to begin with, but they now have some experience. And Armstead is a great addition.” 

On how playing non-conference games on the road against ranked teams could have helped 
“Its tough. It would have benefited us better if we were healthy. We have just never had a completely healthy ball club and we don’t have a lot of depth so our key people pretty much need to be available for us. We go to New York without one of our starters and a key guy in Theo Robertson. We go to New Mexico without Theo and two other kids are on their death bed so we have had a tough time without the guys we need to be good. We just haven’t had them yet in practice or on the floor. We are hoping we can get through that. So I don’t know how much those games will help us in the long run because we were not able to go in their and compete straight up like we thought we might be able to.” 

On some of the surprising road wins and the causes of them
“I think SC going in and beating UCLA by 20 was probably a little bit of a surprise. Washington held court. Maybe it has to do with the match-ups. The one thing that has changed in the league since I was in for so long is there are so many different styles of play not that change things. They are unique styles of play, Arizona State being one, Oregon State being another and maybe Washington yet a third that are really different then you man-to-man straight up defense. That could play a part in it too. Another thing too is the consistency and inconsistency of young people that may just come out and play really well on a particular occasion and then come out on the road on another occasion and not have as good of a game.” 

On who on the team is healthy this week
“I don’t know for sure. We had six guys sitting on the sideline, but only four are in our main rotation. We have some illness and Jorge (Guttierez) is on the mend and is probably a game day decision. Markhuri (Sanders-Frison) has the back and that is probably a game day decision, so we are just going to have to get healthy and try to put the team together from that.”

Washington Head Coach Lorenzo Romar

On Arizona State’s fast start
“I think they embody every sense of the word team. They really play together. Defensively, they are probably one of the top two or three teams to score a basket on. They got great senior leadership at the point guard position with Derek Glasser. I just think they are really a solid team that won’t give many games away. I don’t think they have snuck up on anybody. When you play against them, you know you are going to have to deal with their zone. You are going to have to try to score baskets. They kind of changed the way they played a little bit. They ran more Princeton offense, now they are more four-out-one-in. They are shooting three-pointers, driving and kicking. So they are a little different team. They have always been a tough team to play against. You know when you play against them it’s going to be a fight. They have more personnel now then when they are 1-17. When you play Arizona State, I don’t think they will snuck up on anybody.”

On the difficulty at winning at home and on the road
“I think the parity of the Pac-10, this year, is so prevalent. There are going to be teams that get beat at home this year. I don’t think that will be the exact formula. If you look at  what Arizona State has done, that’s why they are in the position they are in, but I don’t know if there will be a whole lot of teams doing that.  A lot of teams are really close to being even.”

UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland

On the challenges of this year after losing guys to the NBA last year
“You know what, I knew this year we were going to be very young. I knew we were going to have to depend on a lot of young players. We have our core three seniors: Michael Roll, Nikola Dragovic and James Keefe, but other than them everybody else was going to be an underclassmen. That has definitely been a challenge when you are starting over again. We are counting a lot on the young guys to come through. We did not play well in our last game against USC, who I think is arguably the best team in the league right now and Washington coming up. So it’s something that we are going to have to have a much better effort coming up. 

On Washington State FR G Reggie Moore 
“I’ll tell you what, Moore is a really good player. Just watching the other games in the conference, I am really impressed with him. He was suppose to go to Fresno State or something out of high school and didn’t. I’m not sure how is whole recruitment thing worked out, but he is very talented and is playing very well. He is one of the best newcomers in the league this year. Washington State is playing well. Ken (Bone) has done a great job. (DeAngelo) Castro and (Klay) Thompson are obviously very good players, but Reggie is another guy that can get 25 points on any given night.”


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