Lute Olson's Weekly Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 20, 2001

Your thoughts on the 3-0 Start:
'We are obviously pleased to be 3-0 at this point. I think a lot people though we might be 0-3. Certainly, that could've been a distinct possibility.'

Comment on the play of Jason Gardner:
I don't recall a point guard have three better games in a row here than what Jason has had. When you take into account everything involved, the number of new guys and the schedule, he's really been outstanding.'

'We've indicated that if we are going to have the kind of season we would like to have, it's going to take great play out of the three juniors. It's been obvious that we've gotten outstanding play from them. I think they've provided excellent leadership in terms of the way they've helped the other guys, but also the way they've performed in pressure situations. In pressure situations they've really stepped up, all three of them have big time.'

Comment on the progress of the freshmen:
'We're very pleased with the progress of the freshmen. Looking at what we expected, at this point, (freshman center) Channing Frye has been much more aggressive than we hoped we would be. (Freshman center) Isaiah Fox has probably been the biggest surprise of anybody. The big reason for that is because he plays so hard and competes so hard. He goes after everything. He's not a big jumper, but is a great positioner and anticipates rebounds very well. He's a tough customer, he's not afraid to mix it up with anybody.'

'(Freshman forward) Dennis Latimore has made great progress in practice the last couple of weeks. My experience is once you start seeing that improvement in practice situations, it's not going to be long before you see it in game situations. As the next few weeks unfold, he's going to make his presence felt. I think Dennis needs to be more aggressive in going after everything. He has a great attitude. He's going to be a really good one. I think Dennis is eventually going to be a swing forward. Right now we are trying to limit him to one position because there is so much to learn.'

How do you feel about a two-week layoff?
'The way the schedule has worked out has really been good for us because this week now we're able to go back now and concentrate on areas we didn't have time to concentrate on before. We'll need to use the time we have this week and next week to be as ready as we can be. That three game stretch is going to be another killer with Kansas, Illinois and Purdue all within one week's period of time.'

On Nike Elite:
'They have handled themselves very well with wins over Houston, Penn State and Michigan and have been, for the most part, competitive in most of the other games.'

'We've not been in a situation where we've had to rely on as many freshman as this year. The thing that's obvious, in addition to being talented, is how competitive they are. The competitiveness is something they had coming in here, but the fact they have three juniors to look at and see how they handle pressure situations has helped them too.'

On this week's practice:
'We need to refine some things. We're not executing very well offensively. We're spending time on some of the set calls that we haven't been able to spend any time with (earlier in the season).'

On early season upsets across the country:
'When you get in neutral-court situations there are going to be upsets. It's a one-shot deal and the opponents are excited to play them. It's probably a case where the big name schools may take the first round game a little bit lightly.'

On the Texas game:
'I think Texas was the biggest obstacle we faced. That's not taking anything away from Maryland or Florida, but playing them on a neutral site is a whole lot different then playing at Texas. I think something that is really obvious is that Jason Gardner is in control of this team. He is going to hit big shots and make sure everybody keeps their poise and confidence up.'

'(Freshman guard) Salim Stoudamire had an unbelievable second half scoring 19 points, but he is capable of that. He is a great shooter and thinks he should hit every one that he puts up there.'

'I thought the guys handled themselves well. To get down 12 against a team as experienced as Texas with the home crowd and the rest of it, and to be able to take their best shots and run off a string like we did is a very positive sign.'

On the preseason polls:
'I think preseason polls are guesses. I don't think we have been out of a regular poll since '85 or '86. As soon as we play, then it becomes a poll. It's given the team a lot of confidence, but I don't think it's overconfidence. It's confidence that we can play well against the best teams and have a chance to do well. I don't see this team getting overconfident. We're a better team because we've worked hard.'

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