Coach's Corner: Media Day

Saturday saw the Wildcats officially introduce this team to the fans. On Tuesday it was the media's turn. The Wildcat basketball team held it's annual media day. In addition to getting to interview the players, Lute Olson answered the questions. Here is some of what he had to say.

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Olson began the session by ribbing the media and their ‘great questions' a little bit before making an opening statement:
Lute Olson: "We've only had Saturday and Monday to work but we're pleased with the efforts on the courts. We've got guys that play hard. It seems like it will be a closely-knit unit again. It is a little different going out there without the proven leadership we had out there. Last year we knew we were going to have great leadership, while this year we're still wondering where the leadership is going to come from. That's a big question we've had, but generally that's something that develops as you go.
"We don't have a lot of size out there, so it will be a case of where we'd better be quick. We have some very good athletes, obviously with Hassan (Adams) and Andre (Iguodala). We have a lot of guys who can get up in the air, so we're going to have to rely on that more than we ever have.
"They've been a very hardworking and enthusiastic group to this point so far. That is very encouraging. I think they're winners. They are used to winning and I hope we can put things together well enough to be successful."

How do you see the leadership situation developing?
Olson: "Channing (Frye) and Salim (Stoudamire) have been starters almost all the way through. When Channing wasn't starting, Isaiah was, so we have three in that class. Hopefully that will be continuing to develop as we go. I think Hassan and Andre are certainly capable of a lot of help in that area. They are good players and good communicators. It will probably be the case of leadership by committee instead of just one or two individuals."

What do you hope to get out of Channing Frye this year?
Olson: "Channing has made great progress, especially from a guy who wasn't looked at as a tremendous prospect by a lot of people. He's a hard worker and very coachable. He's up to about 250 now, still learning and will continue to learn, but he's much more aggressive with the ball. He's had a good summer I think in developing his individual skills.
"He needs to eliminate the unnecessary fouls. Every once in a while he'll get one over the back or get caught behind a guy and try to punch the ball away. He knows how valuable he is to us.

Do you think he's one of the best big men in the country this year?
Olson: "I have to see more of him. I've heard where he's been rated in a number of magazines. I'm not generally impressed buy that. I like to make my own decisions. When you look at where he was when he came in as a freshman he has made great progress. I have no reason to believe that he won't continue that.
"He has nice touch. He has nice touch on his jump hook, he has nice touch facing up and that's given us nice flexibility in the past when we've faced big centers who don't like to defend out. Every year has been a year when he has developed. Every thing he does this year will be better than what he did last year. We're going to try and do some things offensively to get the ball in his hands more."

Is this team similar to the '97 team , especially with the similarities between Andre And Bennett Davison?
Olson: There's a lot of difference between Andre and Bennett, because Andre's strength is facing up. He's really an unselfish player. He wants to be the kind of passer Luke Walton was for us. He sees the floor very well and needs to make sure he's under control.

Are you concerned at all with Salim's attitude?
Olson: "Just based on the reaction to players to him in pick-up games, he's matured and grown up more. He's taken the challenge that he'd like to be the leader of this team. I hope that happens. With leadership you need to be on that consistent level. You can't be up and down, which happens when you are a freshman and sophomore. He's now an upperclassmen. A lot of the things you communicate are not necessarily verbal. His single biggest problem is that he has to understand that if he is verbalizing with his appearance, there are four guys who are with him who have to believe that he is being very positive and consistent with what he is doing.
"He can play. I think I said a year ago that he's the best shooter we have had since Steve Kerr and he's gotten better. Now it is just a matter of moving without the ball and being patient for the shot to present itself. I think Salim very much wants to be one of the leaders and I think he will work very hard to gain the confidence of the staff and players."

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