Coach's Corner: Lute meets the press after Madness

After a season-opening scrimmage attended by an estimated 5000 rabid UA fans, Lute Olson addressed the media for the first time this season. He expressed his surprise at the play of walk-on Beau Muhlbach and also some of his concerns as he and his staff begin to mold this team into a cohesive unit.

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It looks like you've found a solid No. 2 guy (in reference to walk-on Beau Muhlbach's 36-point day)?
Lute Olson: Well, it's the first time we've gotten to see him play in something other than shooting drills. The coaches have said that he is far and away the best walk-on we've had here. He doesn't mess up defensively, but he's got a lot of competition out there.

How did the day go?
Lute Olson: We worked out this morning for an hour and 45 minutes. I think they got a little bit tired toward the end of the (afternoon) scrimmage. More so than if we wouldn't have gone this morning. I think it was a good day. As you saw, we had the group divided as equally as we thought we could.

I thought Andre (Iguodala) played well. He really made some good passes. We need to do a better job of screening with our big guys. Salim (Stoudamire) has been shooting lights out. We've got to get him screens, too. He can create shots, but we need to do a better job of getting screens for him.

It's the first day they've played defense all year. The first rule of pick-up games is no one defends. I thought they got a good workout today. It went reasonably well.

Overall, did you feel the afternoon was a success?
Lute Olson: The Midnight Madness is a lot of fun...a lot of dunks and three-point shots, but there is no question we got a lot more conditioning out of this workout than if we had done a Midnight Madness. One of the points we wanted to make with this is to make it possible for families to come, which you're not always going to get at midnight. There will be some years that we'll do it at midnight and some years we'll do it in the afternoon.

Can you assess the players' summer workout efforts?
Lute Olson: Channing (Frye) is at about 250 (pounds). You can see how much stronger Andre is. Salim is a lot stronger. Mustafa (Shakur) has put on seven or eight pounds since he got here and Kirk (Walters) is in the eight to 10 range, so they've worked hard in the offseason. Now we just have to put the pieces together.

If you look at how they are playing, there will be a number of times where we'll have four perimeter guys around one big man, due to the lack of depth on the inside, and also to get a lot of quickness out there. I thought we did a good job of getting the ball down court quickly. I think that's going to be a big part of our game.

I think you can see how Mustafa reminds us of Jason Terry. You get it into him and he's in attack mode right away. For the first day of practice, I think we got a lot out of it. The conditioning factor is so much greater when you have people in the stands (4,800 people attended) because the guys will push themselves.

What else pleased you about the day?
Lute Olson: Obviously Beau shot it well today. I really liked the way Andre played today. You could see from a leadership standpoint that Andre is going to be one of the guys. There is no question about that. He is a communicator and did a lot of things well with the ball. Salim missed some shots he's been hitting lately, but part of that is that we're not holding the screens long enough for him to work off of. But he's going to be a load for anyone to handle.

We said coming into the year that one of our concerns was going to be who was going to give us leadership? It's obvious that Andre is going to be one of those guys.

This is going to be the quickest team we've ever had in terms of getting the ball down the court, but we need to work on getting it in bounds quicker.

Did you get a sense that the guys were ready to start practice?
Lute Olson: Oh yes. They've been saying for the last week or so that they were ready for practice to start. The veteran guys have been telling the younger guys that some of the stuff won't work when the coaches get out here, so they've been really anxious for practice to start. I think we'll have a good solid week coming up.

It's a good group of guys. They will work hard. We got a lot done in the hour and 45 minutes this morning. They hustled, and I think we got good direction from our upperclassmen.

What were your thoughts on Kirk Walters' first day?
Lute Olson: You can tell that Kirk is going to be a good player. He's very coachable and a quick learner. He needs to get stronger, but he works very hard in the weight room. You can see his shot-blocking ability, not only on the ball, but when he comes to provide support. He's long and he moves well.

That and Mustafa's ability to get the ball down the court quickly were very obvious today.

Obviously, a lot of positives today... We have lot of work to do, and we knew that would be the case. If we put out our top guys together, you would have seen a much better flow. When you look at the 10 guys we had start, four of them are new to the program.

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