Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes

Feb. 11, 2003

Weekly Press Conference - Feb. 11, 2003

Head Coach Lute Olson

Opening Statement:

'It's good for us to be home and to be 6-0 on the road. We're really happy about that. Instead of facing five of the next seven on the road as we did prior to the Washington trip, now we're back to where we'll have one more game at home than on the road the rest of the way. That's a real plus for us.'

'The primary concerns that we still have are that we need to take better care of the ball and we need to rebound the ball more consistently. Even though we've outrebounded our opponents 16 out of 20 times, we haven't been as dominating as we need to be if we're going to get where we want to get. The other thing is that we really should be shooting the ball a lot better than what we are shooting. A lot of that has to do with being patient enough for the good shot to present itself. A lot of times we are taking shots earlier in the possession than we should. That doesn't mean we should be turning down good shots. But if we don't have the good look we need to be more patient. We have to finish better too, we've had a lot of easy shots in games where we haven't finished the play. Those are our primary focal points at this stage.'

'With our health, as long as we get through the next two days, we should be fine. We're still limited in the amount of time that Luke (Walton) can be on the floor. We're hoping that that is going to get better as we go because, not only does Luke need the time on the floor for his own timing and getting in sync, it's really important that we get him out there as much as we can so that the other guys become accustomed to him being on the floor. Sometimes now he's making good passes that should be caught or he's trying to make passes that he shouldn't make that I think he wouldn't make if he had had more time on the court. But we'll just have to be patient with that and hope that that will occur as we get closer to the tournament season.'

'There are areas where we need to get better. Yesterday was probably the best practice we've had all year long. I'm just hopeful that I can say the same about today because that's the only way the consistency is going to come in the game situations. Everybody was totally in tune with what was being done. Everyone was really concentrating on what needed to be done.'

'When Jason (Gardner) went out late in the Washington State game, that was not an ankle sprain. That was a slight sprain in his foot. He's fine with that so it should not be a problem. It was good that we were able to get him out of the game and to the locker room so he could get (the foot) elevated and get it iced. We should be fine there.'

'Andre (Iguodala) is a guy who likes to make things happen. Sometimes he's trying to make things happen when he needs to just let things happen. If we get a good shot off the break, we want the shot taken at that point. If the defense is back, we want to get the ball swung from side to side to move the defense. If you're going to get second shots off of offensive rebounds, you have to move the defense. If you come down and the defense is set and you take that quick shot, every one of the defenders is in good position to rebound. That's something that has been a problem for us. Our percentage on quick shots is around 20 percent, our percentage when we get two or more passes is generally around 60 percent. A lot of times, guys think they can mess with the statistics. You may hit that shot now, but in the long run the percentages are working against you.'

'Hassan (Adams) played well at Washington State, he did not play well at all at Washington. But he hadn't practiced well either. It's surprising-if you don't practice well, you don't generally play well. He did not have good practices last week and it showed on Thursday. I thought he played really well, especially down the stretch at Washington State. All three of those freshmen are showing great strides in practice, great strides in terms of their shooting, much more consistent in getting the proper lift and arc and follow through on their shots.'

Has the Arizona-UCLA matchup has lost its luster?

'Absolutely not. If you look at their last few games against the Oregon schoools, USC and Georgetown, they have played very well. They were really struggling early, I think all the negative things they were reading and hearing really affected them. At this point, I think it's been a gathering point for them. It's getting them closer together as a team. I think they've circled the wagons, they're reacting like that. We know they have some very capable players.'

On UCLA's Ryan Hollins:

'He played really well against Georgetown and that may have been a case where they felt they needed a bigger guy against a big guy from Georgetown as opposed to having (T.J.) Cummings or (Andre) Patterson guard the big guy. He played really well, he hit the boards well and defended well. It gives them a true center, whereas before they were playing with forwards and guards.'

On UCLA a year from now:

'Other than (Jason) Kapono, their best players will be back a year older and a year more mature and experienced. I don't think it will ever be a case where UCLA won't be able to recruit good players. We look at it with us; there are guys who we've worked our tails off for three years and one phone call later UCLA is right at the top of their list. It still has the magical name around the country.'


'I think they're in a situation where their backs are against the wall and they really need to have a good finishing run here. They are a dangerous team because they play so hard and they force a lot of mistakes. UNLV had 34 turnovers against them. They're going to force a lot of mistakes on teams just because they're so aggressive. It's going to cost them because they're going to pick up more fouls than the other team just because of how aggressive they are. But that's what makes them dangerous. Errick Craven is playing as well right now as anybody in the league. (Desmon) Farmer is very talented. Craven just plays so hard, he's an outstanding rebounder and every time he rebounds he's leading the break. I don't think there's a guy in the country who rebounds and gets the ball out as quickly as he does.'

On returning to the top spot in the national polls:

'We're No. 1 because Florida got beat. If we get beat, somebody else will be No. 1. It's not like football where the ratings are really important because of the BCS and bowls and the rest of it. In basketball, the only poll that counts is the one on Tuesday in April. I've been asked if it means a lot to the guys-the freshmen maybe because it's their first time, but everyone else has been through this and is wise enough to know that it doesn't mean anything. I think, from my standpoint, the only time it was really exciting was in the 1987-88 season when we were ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history. That was exciting. But now it really doesn't mean anything to me.'

'I don't care who we're playing. I evaluate our team based on how we play. If we turn the ball over 21 times, I'm not happy. If we've battled to beat out on the boards, I'm not happy because that shouldn't happening to us. If we shoot 41 percent, I'm not happy. The only thing that keeps us in the position that we're in is because of what we've done with our opponents on the other end of the court. If you take a look at our conference games, we've held people to 39.8 percent shooting. I'm not happy with our 45.3 percentage, but it's considerably better than what we're giving up. For those that were concerned about free throw shooting, I think the last five games we've been at 75 percent. I think there are probably about 300 other schools in the country that would like to be in our situation. We're concerned with how we play. If we're playing as well as we can play, then I'm happy. If we're not playing as well as we can play, then I'm not happy. The only control we have over how somebody else plays is our defense.'

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