Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes

Jan. 28, 2002

Opening Statement:
'In looking back at the Connecticut game on Saturday, it was a great basketball game, tremendously hard fought by both teams. We probably played about as well as we've played at any time (this season). The problem was trying to get the ball by their inside guy (Emeka Okafor). He totally changed the game. Obviously he is the best shot-blocker we've faced here in some time. I thought, other than some of the turnovers in the first half, we played extremely well. Some of those turnovers were a result of the quickness of their defense to fill gaps when we penetrated.'

What are your thoughts on this week's road trip:
'With this week, we're facing two teams that have tremendous at home. Stanford is 7-0 at home and Cal is 12-0, so it's going to be a challenging road trip. The good thing is that we have played outstanding teams on the road, so it's not going to be anything new that we'll be facing. We're going to have to play extremely well in those environments.'

'Cal is playing extremely well, and not surprisingly so, with names like (Brian) Weathers, (Joe) Shipp, (Solomon) Hughes, (Shantay) Legans, (Ryan) Forehan-Kelly and (Dennis) Gates. Those are familiar names, many of whom have been key players since their freshman year at Cal. In a lot of ways this year they are more difficult to defend than a year ago when they relied on (Sean) Lampley...a lot, frankly. They've got more guys that you have to pay attention to from a scoring standpoint. They are playing well, as evidenced by their trip to Southern California. They came up with a win at USC and had a chance at UCLA. It was very close until late.'

'They have an outstanding three-point shooter in Joe Shipp. He's a guy that can shoot it from long range. Forehan-Kelly is an excellent shooter, plus they have an inside presence in Hughes and Sampson. They can score on you in a variety of ways. They are quick and have an inside presence with their shot blockers. They have a nice combination of perimeter shooters and slashers. Cal plays really, really well at home. The crowd is a huge factor for them.'

Talk about the development of Luke Walton:
'The fact that he is so aware of how the game should be played, in terms of his ability to find the open man. The effect he has on the whole team is that when he's in there players move much better without the ball because they know that if Luke has the ball and they can get open, he's going to be looking to pass. His improvement is a result of his being in the game for as much time as we can give him. Last year, he averaged around 20 minutes per game. Luke effects the game in all areas. Generally, he been assigned the toughest defensive assignment. He did a great job Saturday against UConn's Caron Butler. He effects it with his passing, his rebounding and his scoring, so he is certainly one of the top all-around players, not only in this conference, but around the country.'

'There are a lot of things with Luke you don't teach, he just understands. The impressive thing with Luke even in high school was that he had an understanding for the game that was beyond the high school kids. A lot of people know (father) Bill Walton as a great scorer, but I think Coach Wooden would tell you that Bill was the best passing big man he ever had.'

Midway through the Pac-10 schedule, what are your thoughts on the league?
It's really, really a tough league. It's been a long time since I heard national analysts talking about the Pac-10 having six teams in the (NCAA) Tournament. There are at least six teams in this conference that could do very well against anyone.

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