Lute Olson Press Conference Quotes

Jan. 27, 2004

Opening Statement:
The trip will definitely be a contrast in styles with Washington being the second-leading scoring team to us (in the Pac-10), and Washington State being the lowest-scoring team in the league. Washington really likes to get it up and down the court quickly. They've got guys that can shoot it from the perimeter. Their five-man is one of their leading percentage shooters in (Mike) Jensen, so we'll have to be able to defend everyone on the perimeter.

They (Washington) take the ball to the basket very aggressively. Nate Robinson created nothing but problems for us a year ago. He has that ability to get shots up near the basket area. There were a lot of times (last year) where I thought we had the shot blocked, and one way or another he'd get it up. He's playing very well right now, so it will be an interesting game for the fans and players...a very quick pace.

With Washington State, it's going to be a matter of where we're going to see a lot of time with zone defense. The key becomes not losing your patience on the offensive end. When you are on defense that long, there is a tendency to want to get it down and get it up quickly. That's the worst thing you can do. I would hope our experience against Saint Louis (Dec. 6) would help us with that. I think we at the point now where we've matured enough to understand that we have to pass the ball as much as we have to pass it to get the open look.

There is no question that's been the secret to our shooting percentage of late. We're making the extra pass or passes before putting the shot up.

Could you talk about your efforts on the defensive, specifically, buying into the team concept?
Defense wins games. The offense determines what you win by, but I've always said that to be a consistent winner you have to be tough at that end of the court (defensive end). And it can't be four of five. It has to be five guys playing in unison. It starts with pressure on the basketball, and I think we're getting better at that. We're communicating better. Channing (Frye) has done a very good job of keeping the ball out of the middle as much as possible, and we're allowing less drives to the middle of the court, which is very much of a key. If the ball gets to the post, it's in a position where they can pretty much pass it anywhere, and if someone penetrates to the middle of the court to the free throw line area, then they have all the options available to them as well. We're getting better at that. It's not where it needs to be, but it's a lot better than it was a couple of weeks ago. Defense is always something that is going to take a little bit longer with younger players.

It's also been good for us to be able to do as we've done where the zone was effective against one team because we felt that it was their weakness. Against Oregon, we really did a nice job in the man-to-man, so it's a case now where teams are going to have to prepare for both defenses.

Have you faced anyone like Washington's Nate Robinson this year?
I'm trying to think back on the really good penetrating guards. The kid from Marquette, (Travis) Diener was really good. He could shoot it outside, and take it to the bucket. He's not as quick as Nate, but really clever. The one Craven (Errick) kid from USC is bigger than Nate, but really a good penetrator. Those are the two that really come to mind.

Are you surprised at Washington's place in the Pac-10 standings?
You take a look at their starting lineup with four sophomores and a junior, and it's tough with that many young guys. They've played some teams really well, which are games they could have won. They won their last two, and the UCLA game was an overtime one, so they very well could have won three of the last four. We had nothing but problems with them last year up there. I'm sure it's going to be a battle.

They are very athletic. You look at their size, they have one player over 200 (pounds). This team is more of a finesse team, but they are a slashing-type team. They get the ball to the basket well.

How much has making the extra pass helped your offense?
That is the key. There were some good looks prior to that, but the problem is that if you don't get the ball reversed and move it, a shot that may have been there on the second pass is a whole lot better on the fifth pass because you've moved the defense and you have a chance at the offensive boards.

We've not only shot the ball better, but even though there have been fewer offensive rebounds, we've gotten a higher percentage of them because we've moved the defense. That's very much of a key.

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