Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes

Feb. 5, 2002

What are your observations of Washington:
They play very well. Washington has been tough. They just haven't been able to close people out. I don't know what their free throw percentage is (.685), but it seems like that's where they get themselves in trouble. In looking back at our tape with them up there (in Seattle), they had two guys in a row miss front ends of one-and-ones that would have gotten it down to a last possession.

(Doug) Wrenn is as good as there is in the league when you look at scoring ability and rebounding. (David) Dixon takes up a lot of space for them and we still haven't seen anyone quicker than Curtis Allen in this league. (Grant) Leep shoots the three really well and (Erroll) Knight played very well up there. There is no question they played well enough to win (on Jan. 12).

We played quite a bit of zone in that game because Luke Walton got in some foul trouble. We had some success with the zone, but it does set a slower tempo. Although they look like they get out and run pretty well. They hurt us on the break a number of times.

Comment on the continued development of Channing Frye:
We knew when we recruited him that he was going to be a really good player. I don't think there was any way that we could anticipate it happening this quickly. He's probably playing more like we would have hoped in his sophomore or junior year. When we recruited him, we felt like he would be similar to Loren (Woods) in a lot of ways. He's going to be an excellent shot blocker. He is very coachable and has a lot of confidence in himself. He's just played really well. He will have more of an influence on our defense as we continue in the remaining weeks because you can just see the difference in how much more aggressive he is in challenging people in the basket area.

He has nice touch and shoots that (his jump shot) really well, and that was critical for us in the Stanford game. In the first half, (Curtis) Borchardt was just throwing everything back at us or intimidating the shots. We knew we had to get him (Frye) out to set screens so that Borchardt had to leave the lane or give Channing open looks on his roll. We didn't have him roll to the basket, we had him roll out to 14-15 feet. He's an excellent shooter. I think he's second to Salim (Stoudamire) as a free throw shooter. He really does have excellent touch. It's certainly key that we can utilize him in face-up situations away from the basket, especially when he's got a guy on him that does not want to leave the lane.

With the pressures of the coaching profession, you've always said that five years was long enough in one place:
I go back to what (former Marquette coach and college basketball analyst) Al McGuire said to me back in 1980, when I was at Iowa and in a space of five years we went from 10th in the league to the Final Four. I was riding up the elevator and Al said to me, 'Well, where do you think you're going to be next year?' I looked at him and said, 'What?' He said, 'Well, you're not going to stay in Iowa are you?' I said, 'Well, we finally got it going.' He said, 'Exactly. That's why you should get out of there.' (laughter). The more you watch things, the more that is true. Al always said that the biggest mistake you can make is to turn a program around too quickly. Then the next year they expect better and better and better.

Have your feelings changed about the Pac-10 Conference's postseason tournament?
I think this will be the only year that you'll see that (an eight-team tournament). I think they'll change the format. How can you have a conference tournament and eliminate two teams from being a part of it. There is no doubt as to what should be done. The seventh and eighth place teams should have the home-court advantage based on their finish and play (the ninth and 10th place teams) that on a Tuesday or Wednesday night. As coaches, we expressed our concern at that time about what going to happen to the coaches of the two teams that don't get in. You hope that nothing will, but it's not a good situation.

Do you feel good about having five of the last seven games at home?
We just have to prove that we can make it very difficult for teams here. We did that against USC and haven't done it very often other than that. Hopefully, we are maturing and that we can utilize the great home court that we have. (Speaking about the four second-half comebacks, two of which were at home) I think it's a little bit on the remarkable side, when you look at the lack of experience of the team, that they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps. That certainly is something that we need to solve.

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