Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes

Dec. 12, 2001

On playing on the road at Michigan State:
'They have a 49 game home winning streak, which is the longest active streak in the country, so that creates an interesting challenge for us. It's an indication for us that you have to play your best in order to get a chance to win in the Breslin Center.'

'Their team is in a similar situation as ours, in terms having lost a number of guys last year, and I think Tom (Izzo) just has nine guys on scholarships, as do we. And they have three guys who played a lot last year in (Aloysius) Anagonye, (Adam) Ballinger, and (Marcus) Taylor. Ricky (Anderson) of course didn't play last year, but Luke (Walton) and Jason (Gardner) played a lot, so that's sort of similar, plus they have two freshmen listed in the starting lineup just as we always have.'

'They are primarily a man to man team, but they will play some 2-3 match-up zone. Their greatest strength is the ability to rebound. That's because they send four guys to the offensive boards. Which means we need to rebound well, but if we do rebound well, that will leave them vulnerable to a fast break off our defensive glass.'

Comment on Michigan State's young guys stepping up:
'They are undefeated at home, and generally with freshmen, the home court and home crowd are usually like a security blanket. I'm sure Tom (Izzo) would say the same thing about his young guys. Some games they play really well, some games they don't. The good thing with us is if one guy isn't playing a really good game, we usually get one of the other guys to step up.'

Comment on the value of the veteran experience:
'We couldn't afford to lose any of the three juniors. We're very thin in terms of any kind of experience. The more time we can buy the better off we're going to be. If somebody gets hurt at the end of the season sometime, they you've had enough games with the freshmen that they'll play more like sophomores.'

Comment on your freshmen:
'Our freshmen have struggled at times also, but the good thing is if (Will) Bynum hasn't had a good game, (Salim) Stoudamire has and visa versa. The only time they both had an off game was against Kansas, and that was part of the reason we lost that ball game. Up front, we haven't been able to count on necessarily one of one guys coming through, it's usually been the case were Fox has had a bad game, we've usually gotten a good game out of Channing Frye. Dennis Latimore has given us good back-to-back games against Kansas and Illinois.'

Comment on your schedule:
'The games couldn't have ended up better for us at this point. We've played everything from really run it up and down the court like Maryland and Florida. We've had the teams that pressure us at full court and half court. We've had the road games at Texas and at Michigan State. This gives the young guys (a taste of ) what it will be at Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford and some of the other difficult places to play. We've faced zones, box-and-ones. triangle-and-twos, and straight man. We've faced teams that were very physical, and we've faced teams who were athletic and quick.'

'We've won some close ones that have allowed us to have additional confidence. Traditionally in our non-conference games, we usually try and play in tough places to play.'

On Homecourt winning streaks:
'Our (winning streak) went 7I games. There were number of times where if the crowd wasn't a huge factor, we couldn't have done it. Duke had us into a couple of overtimes, the crowd made such a huge difference'

Has it been an advantage to play three Big Ten opponents in a row?'I think it does from the standpoint of facing teams that are really physical, but Texas was (physical) also. But when I think about it, we haven't played anyone who wasn't really physical. The Big Ten style of play is generally very physical, and many of the teams are very half-court oriented. But I think Michigan State is wide open.'

On Luke Walton's defense:
'Luke is sort of a big Steve Kerr because everyone thought he wasn't quick enough to guard a quick guy, but I don't remember anyone ever getting by him. He's smart, similar to Luke (Walton), he knew where the help was going to be. He's an excellent defender.'

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