Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes

March 16, 2003

What do you know about the University of Vermont, your first round opponent?
'We have five tapes on Vermont. That's great for us. Our video department taped whatever was on satellite during the season. The assistants are in the process of breaking down the tape right now. The players will get a quick look at the tape before practice. We're fortunate that it was a team that we had lots of tape on.'

'Right now we're in the best shape that we've been in all year. Luke (Walton) is not 100 percent, but he's a lot better than he's been for the last couple of months. Jason (Gardner) has had abdominal muscle pain. It's getting better everyday. We just don't want anything to happen to the team before Thursday.'

On the West Region bracket:
'It looks like a very strong bracket. There are a lot of big-name teams. It looks tough. Our bracket is tough. No one did us any favors. No one can say that (Jim) Livengood, the head of the committee (and Arizona Director of Athletics), gave us any breaks. There are so many good teams in the tournament.'

'The bracket is very tough, and I think that's very obvious. Billy Packer (of CBS Sports) said that the West is the toughest of the brackets, and I think that's true. In order to get where you want to get, you have to play a lot of good teams regardless of what bracket you're in. We're not going to worry about it. We're just going to try to be ready to play Thursday, and if we play well enough, we'll have another game to play on Saturday. That's the only way you can approach games in the NCAA Tournament.'

'It's always exciting to see where you're going. There's a lot of excitement involved. Nineteen years ago, we didn't even know if we were even going to be in the tournament. I don't feel any differently right now going in than I have in any of the other years except the first year here when we were on pins and needles not knowing if we were going to make it to the tournament. This year, it was obvious that we would be a No. 1 seed, and that we would be in Salt Lake City.'

'You can take a look through the bracket, and you see University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; I'll tell you that they are a good team. There are a lot good teams that no one knows about. Xavier has gotten a lot of attention but not to the average fan that recognizes Duke and Kansas and some others, but Xavier can play with anybody. There are a lot of good teams that no one knows about, and I think that was true when we went through our march through the brackets in 1997. The bracket is tough, but we have one concern, and that's Vermont.

'Tubby (Smith) and I would love the opportunity to play each other, but there is a lot of basketball between now and then.'

On Arizona:
'This team has the ability to do well just as any other team. We just have to make sure that we step up when we need to step up. The 1997 team was not the best team, but it could be good at critical times.'

'We have practice tonight. Offensively, we will do a lot of half-court work. We will try to get ourselves in a situation where when we get to Salt Lake City on Wednesday, practice will be treated as a shoot around to make sure that we're ready for the game on Thursday.'

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