Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes

Dec. 11, 2002

Opening Statement
Regarding Texas, no question it is our toughest test to this point. (They are) very, very aggressive both offensively and defensively. They are the best board team we will have faced, and they attack the basket the best of anybody we have faced. They have the best point guard we've faced, which will put maximum pressure on us in terms of our defense. They have good depth, so it's a case of them using a lot of guys, as you can see by the minutes played. They have nine guys playing 14 minutes or more per game, so depth is not a problem.

Monday, the guys worked really hard. We did a lot of conditioning. We gave them yesterday off. We will still work basically on our things today and have Thursday, Friday and Saturday in preparation for Texas.

Are you as disappointed as some that this game isn't a No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up?
No. I watched the tape of their Notre Dame game and they played really well. I think, in terms of the hype for the game, it probably would have been more, but we don't need to sell tickets so it doesn't make much difference to us.

How would you compare Jason Gardner and T.J. Ford?
They are both really quick with the ball and have point-guard mentalities. A year ago, you would have said with T.J. that he wasn't as good of a shooter as Jason at the same stage. But he's worked really hard on his shooting in the offseason. You can see that.

There are a lot of similarities between the two. They are both winners who carried their teams to state championships in high school. They were both impact players in their freshman years at their respective schools. The point guards that usually come in and make the adjustment as freshmen are guys that have played on where they've had good players with them. T.J. Ford was on a very, very good high school team where he involved everybody. I think Jason had to score more, but when you watched him, it was a program where the open man got the ball.

Is this another physical and athletic Texas team?
Texas has always had great athletes. I think the thing that is happening now is they are good athletes who are becoming better basketball players.

It's been a good rivalry, and it's been good for us because we try to recruit Texas pretty hard. It's been a situation where there has been a lot of publicity with it (the Texas-Arizona game). I think it's been a good series for us and a good series for Texas as well.

What is the situation with Luke Walton and Salim Stoudamire?
In Salim's case, it seems like it's a series of nagging-type injuries. As long as he's having nagging injuries, it's not possible for him to get into the type of condition that he needs to have. That really becomes a case of not being able to do much about it and waiting until he's ready to go full.

In Luke's case, it's highly questionable as to whether he'll be able to play (Sunday). The last ankle injury (suffered Nov. 27) wasn't like the first one at all. This one is a bit more similar to the first one. It's in a basic three-man drill where someone steps on his foot...It's really frustrating to him. You can see him getting back into playing shape and all of the sudden it hits him again. Ankles are always a problem once somebody sprains them. A lot of times they don't heal until after the season is over. He's very, very frustrated by it.

Luke is so critical to vital in terms of his leadership and passing. He's been shooting the ball well. You have to have lift on your shot, or it's not going to be very effective. He had just gotten to the point where his shot was looking good, and was getting good lift on the jump. It will just take some time.

There is no way you can get ready to play basketball without playing basketball. That's the problem. We've done all of the conditioning away from the court that can be done. You have to practice.

Is this a game where a guy like Isaiah Fox could play key minutes?
It's going to be a physical game and Isaiah has been playing really well in practice. He played really well at San Diego State, I thought. That's an ongoing contest with he and Channing (Fyre).

Are there any other guys on the Texas roster that worry you?
(Brian) Boddicker has made a lot of improvement and (Brad) Buckman has done a nice job in reserve in the post. He and (James) Thomas have shared some time, obviously, and played some together. They are solid in all spots. They've got some guys that can really shoot the ball when you look at the percentages. The guys that hit you are (Sydmill) Harris and Boddicker. They have good slashers and aggressive guys defensively. They are just a very good all-around basketball team.

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