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Coach's Corner: Showdown with KU

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Cats may be less than 24 hours from their match-up with Kansas, but you'd never know it from how relaxed he seemed on the podium during the daily interview session.<BR> <A href="http://arizona.theinsiders.com/2/101957.html">UA PLAYER QUOTES</A><BR><A href="http://arizona.theinsiders.com/2/101933.html">KANSAS PLAYER QUOTES</A>

Lute Olson

On having already playing Kansas
"I think that it helps both the players and myself that we've played Kansas before. You're not talking about somebody you've seen on tape, we've played them in person. We know how good they are. Right now, as far as our team is concerned, we're in the best condition we've been in since the start of the season. It's obvious that Luke is getting back to close to 100 percent, and Salim, who had that high ankle sprain at the beginning of the season, there's no question that he's back. We feel good about our team right now. I think that just in watching them in practice today, we're fresh and we're playing the best we've played all year. We're as ready as we can be I think."

On the play of Nick Collison
"In my opinion there is no question of how good he is because he's so versatile and he plays so hard. His game against University of Texas, after we had beaten them in Lawrence on Saturday, was probably as good a game as you're ever going to see a college basketball player have. And last night was even better. I haven't looked at that whole tape but he's a heck of a player. He's a great post player, he has great post moves, he's very quick. But I think one of the biggest things is that he plays so hard, he's an All-American and I think there's no question in anybody's mind about that."

On what makes Luke Walton so unique
"He's really unique but I won't get into that. I'll let Jason tell you about that. Luke is very unselfish and he has a great feel for the game. What happens is, the other four players on the court know that if they move and get open, Luke will find them. I think that's in his genes, from his mom Suzie."

On the keys to the Kansas game
"I think one of the stats about Kansas that hits you right off is that over 70 percent of their points come off the fast break, so you better get back and you better be ready to defend them. They're coming at you every time and their big guys run so well. Collison runs the court like a guard and that's certainly going to be a key, to get back and not let them run. We have to be ready to play right now. They're not going to come down and give us time to relax; they're going to come at us. That's going to be the number one key for us, to limit their transition."

On whether there either team has a psychological edge in the match-up tomorrow
"Wee were down 20 in the first half, so we know how good they are. They were drilling us in the first half but then we set our dense up and they missed some shots that they usually would make. But I don't think there's a psychological advantage for either of us. I think both teams know that they're good and both teams know that if they play well, they can win. So I don't think there's any advantage for us."

On the mass exodus after the 2001 season
"It really took the coaching staff by surprise. We really thought that we'd lose one guy, possibly two, but we certainly didn't expect what happened. That particular year too we got hit by the 8/5 Rule, which was highly unusual that they put in a major rule change like that and put it into effect immediately. So it was a difficult, difficult time. The key, obviously, that we felt was that we got Jason back so that we had the leadership and direction out front that we'd be okay. Our schedule had been set up with the idea that we were going to have a very veteran ball club back. And I've always felt that you need to play the best people that you can play if you're going to make improvements during the course of the year. Unfortunately with that group we ended up with three Juniors and everyone else was a Freshman and we played 8 of our first 9 games on the road and the only home game that we had in the first nine was against Kansas, which wasn't a cakewalk, we got beat by Kansas. It was a very stressful time for us."

 

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