There doesn't seem to be any let downs in the Pac-10. Can you talk about the upcoming games against the Huskies and Cougars?
"It's really an amazing league right now. If you take inventory and you watch the level of play – it really does take your breath away. Once again, as soon as you can take a shower after the last game, you look and see who's up next and you say ‘Wow, here we go again.' We certainly have that feeling with Washington coming in this week."
What is the status on James Harden and his groin injury?
"He's day to day right now. It's just one of those things where he has to feel better. Today (Tuesday) he will not practice."
Aside from the point production, what else would you miss if Harden didn't play?
"Well, that's a complicated question that if I broke that down we'll all miss lunch (smile)…suffice it to say that it most certainly causes us to reinvent ourselves to some measure, because he's obviously a very integral part of what we do."
For the longest time Washington State has been in the cellar of the Pac-10 and now is one of the best teams in the league. Can you talk about their rise?
"I have great respect and admiration to what Coach Bennett, his staff, and their team has been able to accomplish. I think it started with his father and the foundation that was laid. Obviously he was a member of their dad's staff and he just continued to improve and clearly now have established themselves as one of the nation's top teams once again."
How would you compare Washington's size to Stanford's size?
"They're both big. They're both strong. Both teams rebound the ball exceptionally well. I stand to be corrected but I think statistically they're the top two rebounding teams in our league."
Can you talk about Washington's Jon Brockman who was the Pac-10's player of the week last week?
"You know the thing that you have to admire about Jon is that he's productive. Some guys look good, some guys tease you, some guys ooze with potential and perhaps none of those things measure up to the importance of production. He fills up a stat sheet, he scores, he rebounds, and you have to admire and love his competitive spirit."
Derek Glasser has the second best assist to turnover ratio in the country. Can you talk about his development from last year until now ?
"He's continued to get better, especially in that one area. What he does for us is an excellent job of taking care of the basketball. I think in the Pac-10, through five games, he has two turnovers in a significant amount of minutes. He has very sure hands and careful decision making with the basketball."
Derek mentioned that he's more conservative with his game this year. Would you agree?
"We asked him to do different tings. Our system has changed dramatically and the position he was put in last year, is completely different than the position he was put in this year, in terms of what he's being asked to do. The ball was in his hands probably a greater proportion of the possession last year."
If James Harden doesn't play, how do you anticipate the team overcoming that loss?
"It's gonna be a tough thing to pick up. James does so much for us. But we're not trying to think about it like ‘James is gone – what are we gonna do?' This will be a perfect opportunity for some guys to step up and do what they need to do to help."
You haven't been in this position in a while, getting ready to prepare for a game after a loss. Did you notice that in practice this team truly put that Stanford loss behind them?
"It was done that night. We had to get ready for Washington right after that Stanford game. We can't spend unnecessary time thinking about it. We're just gonna go in, watch our film and learn what we did wrong and what we can do better."
Even though you were coming off a loss, it must have felt different than coming off loss last year – a situation that you were in every week?
"Kind of…after that Stanford game I was pretty mad, just like last year. Losing that one, really reminded me of all the ones we lost last year. I hate this feeling and it's so familiar to me…I thought we could win both games…when you win ten in a row, that feeling goes away real quick when you lose that one (game). That really hit me – that there's no way I'm going back to what it was last year. I'm not letting that happen again and that's what was really frustrating to me."
"When I calmed down, I realized that this was only our third loss of the year, and not like the fifth in a row. That helps, but it's like we lost and we shouldn't have. We have to keep moving, but don't forget last year because that really sucked."
You're running now into another physical team in Washington and into a guy like Brockman who has given ASU problems in the past. What do you do to stop a player like that ?
"You just try. When certain guys are beasts, they're just beasts. You can't really stop too many people from doing what they want to do. You just try to limit their touches and have then earn tough buckets."
Eric Boateng had a rough outing against Stanford. Did you find yourself talking to him, trying to pick up his spirits after the game?
"I think it was the first time where Eric was out in a position like that where he had to play the whole half. He was out of his (element). But I told him that all he has to do is slow down a little bit, and that I know what you can do – I play against you everyday in practice. You go harder at me than the (Lopez) twins…I was trying to give him some confidence and just helping him let go of those jitters and told him to just play your game."
When do you get a sense that the refs will be calling a closer game, not only against the team, but against you? It seemed like against Cal the refs really let you play compared to Stanford.
"Before the game the refs always say the same thing – we're gonna call it like this, call it like that…but I know you're not gonna call it that way, you're gonna call it how you wanna call it. If every ref tells you the same thing and every game he calls it different…but how they say they're gonna call it and they end up calling it, won't affect my game. I can't let the refs have me taken out of my game. I talked to the refs at halftime (against Stanford) about what was going on and they warned me about something. I was trying to figure out where the medium is."
"On Saturday it's like someone put a bug in their ear and said: ‘watch out for Jeff, he's real physical and watch him push around.' So that's what was kind of going on…I'm pushing a 7-footer? The man has like four inches on me and thirty pounds (smile). Are you serious?"
"That's part of the progression of the season. In the beginning, things are more free because refs don't know your tendencies. Players have tendencies and you scout them, refs can do the same thing."