Arizona Press Conference

SALT LAKE CITY- After Arizona's Wednesday practice session in Salt Lake, the players and coaches fielded a variety of questions from the media in a formal press conference.

Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson

Regarding Vermont's ordeal with weather:

I'm sure they're ready to get out and take out their frustrations. I can't imagine what the are going through.

On Vermont's team size:

I think their smallest starter is 6-4 and the big fellow is not just tall…he's huge. They have real nice siee for a team that's seeded that low. The biggest thing for us is that we're quicker and we need to take advantage of our size. But their size is very formidable.

Regarding the team's schedule this year:

I've always felt if you wanted to be the best, you had to play the best. We've tried to play in big arenas to get ready for the atmosphere in the NCAA (tournament). I've felt that I would rather lose some games in the non-conference, because everything in conference counts. I guess I'm not a good enough coach to play bad opponents and still maintain our concentration on getting better. When you play good opponents, you have to keep working at things. You learn from playing good teams.

Regarding the possibility of Arizona playing Kentucky in the semis:

Both Tubby (Smith) and I would be very, very happy to have our teams playing one another in New Orleans. Top loading seeding of the West Region: It wasn't difficult to tell which region was the toughest. I haven't heard much debate on that.

Regarding the 4,400-foot altitude of Salt Lake City:

Like (Jerry) Tarkanian said once, "The games are played inside."

Regarding the games in the shadow of impending war in Iraq:

It should make us all think that the NCAA tournament is all fun and games. The real world is out there. Just in watching on TV and seeing family members of personnel over there, your heart goes out. We need to recognize that this is a very unimportant thing compared to what those people are having to face. There won't be a player or coach in the tournament that won't feel that way.

Jason Gardner

On having a few days off after the loss to UCLA, and whether the rest was a good thing:

It works both ways…it helps to play games before the tournament, but you get rest before you go into the NCAA. Either way, it works out and right now the team is positive and we're ready to go.

Luke Walton

On Vermont:

They are a smart team and they have talented players. They have a big guy in the inside who is a force and they have a sophomore who was conference player of the year. The coaches have done a great job of preparing us for what to expect.

On his injury this season:

I was down for a little bit, but my guys stayed behind me…they kept going out and winning games. They beat Texas without me. That kept me going, that we were doing things we set out to do. My teammates kept me involved in everything.

On having something to prove after the late season loss to UCLA:

We've always had something to prove. Our main goal all year is to win the national title. We want to prove to ourselves first and also to our coaches that we are the best in the country.

Rick Anderson

On having Luke Walton healthy:

He just gets everybody involved and that's the key to our chemistry and leadership. We missed him a lot and…now we've got him back.

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