Head Coach Mike Montgomery Teleconference Quotes

Jan. 2, 2001

Arizona was team to beat/favorite, now is Stanford in that role:No, I think Arizona is still extremely dangerous, extremely talented. I think they've had some circumstances that put them in a tough spot -- either travel or schedule. I think the health issue with Bobbi Olson has probably been something that most anybody with caring kids would be difficult to deal with so I would not take Arizona out of the favorite's role at this point in time. I think they're still the team to beat, and we have to approach it that way. Anybody that doesn't is not really looking at it very well.

On fast start to season:Like a lot of people our schedule is not one that has put us in jeopardy time after time after time. We have not played extremely well, it's not like we're playing great. We've played a little bit better than our opponents. In the Duke situation, which was the one time we were in jeopardy, we played well in a stretch when they didn't play well and it was at the right time of the game -- at the end. Like anybody, there are some teams that have better records than they probably deserve based on who they've played and where they've played them, and there are other teams whose records don't reflect the actual strength of their basketball team. That's certainly a factor for several schools in the Pac-10. There's not a game where I felt like we did anything out of the ordinary other than the last six or seven minutes of the Duke game. We're still not playing as well as we need to do to compete at the top of the conference, and we've still got some progress that needs to be made.

On Collins twins:They're awfully good. They don't dunk every ball and they don't block every shot, but they sure know how to play the game, they sure know how to win. They play very well together, they're smart players -- they know how to pass the ball, they understand different people's defense and they're just real good basketball players. Jason's just had a tough time -- he's had a couple sprained ankles that have taken him out of practice and has just not been 100 percent. I'd love to get him there and we're hoping to get him there as soon as we can, but in the last couple of weeks he's had sprained ankles and he's not been able to be himself and be as explosive as he normally would. But they're awfully good players that have proven they can win.

On Arizona State:They're really playing hard and of course 9-3 is awfully good and nobody's talked about them -- they haven't been in the national spotlight and probably should be. Probably like to have the Ohio game back and you've got a 10-2 record to start with. They just have very good athletes, they're playing very hard, a lot of kids who can score the ball and shoot it from out. I'm impressed -- Rob's done a very nice job. I think they're going to be -- call them a sleeper if you want but only because they haven't been mentioned as much, I think they're a team that can compete favorably in our conference.

On Lute's situation:He's done what he needs to do and that's been spend the time with his wife. They have such a great relationship and she's been such a big part of that whole program in terms of everything that my heart just goes out to him. She's such a great lady and they had such a great relationship. It's been such a tough battle, it's been hard to imagine what he's going through. It has to have been tough on their players because they're very close. He just needs some time and needs to take the time that he needs to get himself back and with his family to get back and shouldn't rush at all.

On Mike McDonald's play:Our team sure seems to function better with Mike in the game. He's really starting to run the break and understand that aspect. His assist to turnover ratio has been very good, moving the ball down the floor, finding the open guy, and getting us some baskets that way. I think people might assume that he's not looking to shoot, but that's fine with us. He can score it if he needs, so I think he's doing fine.

Is McDonald more comfortable than last year:I think he is. I think he's more comfortable with the break and less afraid to make a mistake and he certainly knows when he does when he makes a mistake, he knows it's probably a play he should've made. He's playing with a lot of confidence, and we've tried to keep him rested as much as we can because his foot's been a little bit of a problem for him in terms of some pain. We don't want to run him into the ground. If we needed him for longer, we would play him longer, but we've tried to just use him when we needed to win.

On conference:If you look at the dangerous teams like UCLA that has lost games, like Arizona that has lost some games. You can't make any assumption there, they're still the best talented team perhaps in the country. SC has played very well, they've managed to win almost every game and just lose one and that's without (Jeff) Trepagnier, which is going to give them a tremendous lift, and they've developed some depth. Cal's come on now, starting to win. Oregon with just the one loss. Oregon State has lost more games again than people would've thought, but I think that they've got a real talented starting lineup. Of course Arizona State's 9-3. So it doesn't look like there's any lack of good teams in our league.

Where like to see improvement:Offensive execution as much as anything else. We're doing some fundamental things not nearly as well as we need to. Not everyone's blocking off the boards, for example. We're not setting screens as well as we need to. We're not executing our offense. We need to be able to do that. We're working hard on defense and we're shooting the ball pretty well. There are some little things - the consistency, which we need to get on a game-in, game-out basis that we're trying to work on.

On starting conference schedule with Arizona schools:You've got to play them some time. On Sunday, I'll be glad that we did it. It's just a tough road trip, they're both very good teams. Your schedule in conference always dictates how things look, sometimes you have real tough stretches. It doesn't really make much difference when they happen. We're not in school and it gets this road trip out of the way. Maybe we're not as good as we might be later on, for whatever reason, but I don't have a problem with when it falls. We know there's going to be a time at some point in the year when we're going to lose a game. We just hope it's to a better team or a team that plays better that night, not because we're not playing well.

ASU different without Eddie House:Not really, they're running the same stuff they really run break-neck speed really run through cuts, a lot of motion and movement. I just think the difference without House is others understanding that they're going to shoot the ball. We went through the same thing with Brevin (Knight) and we had to get others accustomed to make plays. House is not going to be the one that shoots the ball. I think it's been good for them, they've responded very well to that.

Is ASU now harder to defend:Sure, you figure before if you shut down House or can minimize House, the others would be uncertain of themselves. Now, there isn't that uncertainty. Any one of about six or seven guys feels very confident shooting the ball.

Comfortable program is self-sustaining, higher level of play:Good players make good programs. You recruit freshman, and they come in and they're all supposed to be great, but they have to prove that. They have to come in and be able to compete at the college level. Most any of the kids you recruit are based on projections and what's going to happen down the road. They have to develop, they have to work, get stronger, mature and that's the assumption you make. We have issues we have to deal with -- if we miss a year, we can't go out and replace with junior college or we don't drop our standards, so we have to be very careful. We're never going to be totally out of the woods, but at least now we're able to compete for the better players in the country, which is really what makes you good.

Is there any team as good or better than Duke in the Pac-10:I hope not. They're awfully good and don't take from that that means we're going to beat everybody. That was a game in that venue with those sets of circumstances and we were fortunate at the end. But Duke is awfully good. Their top six guys, I would question if there's anybody better. The one thing that looks to be a potential problem is lack of depth. I think they got tired against us and have not developed a seventh, eighth, ninth guy like they'd like. Their starting lineup and the way they play is as good as any.

Does McDonald have to get used to role of not scoring as much as other past point guards:He's on a different team. Brevin (Knight) certainly didn't have the players to go along with that Mike does. Every player's role would change. And really Art (Lee) was a scoring point guard, kind of a combo. Mike has always been a point and he understands that we have Casey (Jacobsen) shooting the ball, (Ryan Mendez) shooting the ball and the big guys inside. His job is to try and get them the ball where they can be scorers. An assist is as good as a basket really because it led to a basket. It doesn't mean that the media or the public treats it that way, but I think most coaches understand that it's an extremely important part of your team.

Is McDonald's main role to defend the other point guards in the Pac-10:Yes. Quickness wise, you've got some real quick players that break you down at the point of attack and try to take it. Of our point guards, he's the quickest and can defend. He has to stay out of foul trouble -- that's important for him. To not allow point guards to get into the seams and create opportunities and make others better is the same thing we're asking him to do.

Attitude since Duke win, is it talked about much:Not at all. Life is normal, we're just trying to get better. Basically, I always look at what we're not doing. I think we have a good basketball team and I think we're capable of winning games. If we play well, we can probably beat most everybody in a given situation. But we're not a dominant team. We're not a team that can dominate people. We have to play well, we have to do the little things, and I think they understand that. As soon as they don't understand that, we're going to get beat by any one of the teams in our conference. Then we maybe will understand it for a period of time. We're based on setting screens and working hard and defending and everybody boarding, and when we don't do that, we're not great. So we continue to work hard day after day. To think otherwise would be a fatal mistake.

Medical report:Jason's (Collins) ankle is sprained and it's not 100 percent, we're trying to get him to run full court. Tyler Besecker is sick and won't make the trip. Kyle Logan has a little bit of the same stuff, but not as bad and will practice. Other than that, I think we're fine.

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