Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes
June 10, 2002
How has the reaction been since the Hall of Fame announcement five days ago?
It's been nice. A lot of people were anxious for this to happen to me, more than what I recognized. Arizonans, especially U of A people, were in my corner pulling for me... (There have been) a lot of congratulatory calls and notes. In the airport, I saw plenty of people who said congratulations and were happy that I had made it this time around.
Has the significance of being inducted sunk in yet?
It's a great honor just to be nominated, and that's the way I felt about it when it happened. There are an awful lot of outstanding coaches that have been nominated but never been elected. I felt fortunate to be nominated and I feel that much more fortunate to be selected for enshrinement.
What effect do you think this will have on recruiting?
I don't know what, if any, effect it will have. The biggest thing in recruiting is the program here at Arizona. In recruiting, it seems like more attention is drawn to the fact that we have had so many guys in the NBA or have so many in the NBA. I think that has helped our recruiting more than what this honor will. On the other hand, I guess it won't hurt it either. (smile).
Was it hard to keep a secret?
Well, I got the call Monday morning and they (Hall of Fame) said the class won't be announced until Wednesday, so obviously we'd like to keep it confidential. I didn't even let my family know until later Tuesday afternoon, so they won't have to live with it too long. I tried to keep from putting them in that position. On the staff, the only one I talked with was (associate head coach Jim) Ros (Rosborough) on Tuesday before I flew out to L.A., but I didn't tell anyone else. I'm sure they figured it out when they knew I was supposed to be in last week and all of the sudden I'm off to L.A.
How did Wednesday's activities feel to you?
They (the Hall of Fame) did a first class job, I thought, of the announcements at the luncheon. I thought it was very well planned out. All of us involved were treated in a very first class manner from the time that we arrived in L.A. I don't know how many of you have ever been to the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, but that's probably the best kept secret in L.A. It is a beautiful, beautiful. When I received the Wooden 'Legends of Coaching' Award two years ago, we actually had the presentation in that same room, but we came in the back door, so I didn't see the lobby. That's a beautiful hotel.
Two years ago you were a preseason No. 1. Last year you were a preseason unknown. Which do you prefer?
I hope we never have to go into a season like we did last year, not knowing what to expect. It was a very stressful offseason last year. Especially with the schedule that we had. The reason the players we have in the program are here is because they expected to be coming into a program that is viewed as one of the top programs in the country. Certainly from a staff standpoint, that's what we expect. Whatever the preseason ranking, it doesn't have a big effect on me one way or the other. I think it's good for the program because it gives the program a lot of positive hype. As long as your program is out in front of potential recruits, I think in the long run that's going to help you. Where ever they want to put us, that's fine. I'm more concerned about the postseason. I do feel that we'll be much more ready to start the season next year than what we were this year.
Did you get what you wanted to out of the Australian Trip?
I think we accomplished some of the things we set out to do on the Australia trip. The competition this time around was not as tough as the 1997 competition. That year was unbelievable. We played three games against the Australia Under-22 National Team that went on to win the World Championship. We played five of the top six N.B.L. teams because they were in season at the time. The only two second division teams we played were teams that were undefeated in their seasons at the time.
The competition this time around was not nearly as strong, but it was probably better for us that it wasn't. It was competitive for us, and we wanted the freshmen to get as much as much additional time and experience as we could get them. So the 10 practices we had here before we left were valuable in that way.
As you can see from the tour stats, Channing Frye had an outstanding tour. He shot the ball well from the field and the line, and was our leading scorer and rebounder. I think Isaiah Fox the last three games played very well. Prior to that, he had been a little inconsistent. Dennis Latimore had an opportunity to get a lot more playing time than he had during the year. I think it was important to him to get 27 minutes per game, and I think his consistency developed pretty well as the tour took place. Salim (Stoudamire) played really well. Will's (Bynum) mom became ill while we were on the trip and he had to fly back. He missed the last four games. It was unfortunate for Rick (Anderson) that he pulled a hamstring in the fourth game and we lost him for the rest of the trip. That was too bad for him and also made it a little bit tougher for us as a team. On the other hand, it gave the freshmen more time.
What does Rick Anderson have to do to solidify his spot in the rotation?
There is no question with Ricky that he can shoot the basketball. That's not a problem. He boards well. We need to have him board really well on the offensive end. He just needs to work on his quickness and strength. Last year when he went home after his redshirt year, he was up to 232 (pounds) the day he left and came back at 212 or something. He needs to make sure that this summer is more productive that last summer.
Comment on the play of Richard Jefferson during the NBA Playoffs:
He's really played well. It doesn't surprise me because I've had a lot of newspaper articles sent to me from out there that talked about Richard. I spent some time visiting with (Philadelphia 76ers head coach) Larry Brown in L.A. and he said that Richard just played outstanding all year long. As a matter of fact, he thought that Richard played the best of any of the rookies because he was such a factor on the defensive end of the court. He said Richard played so hard on every possession. Larry Brown could not have been more enthusiastic about Richard's rookie season.
Doesn't that help the recruiting as well?
I think so. I think Mike Bibby played unbelievably well for Sacramento. We've been known for some time as a school that puts out some good point guards. The key is getting good point guards. Mike was very good when he got here, as were many of the others, and we didn't hurt his chances of getting into the league. Because of our style, I think it's been helpful to the development of point guards. The more you hear our players names at the University of Arizona, the better off we are.