Coach's Corner: Cats ready for Red/Blue

There is less than a week until the Red/Blue scrimamge and there is still plenty of room for improvement. Lute Olson is pleased with the team's progress, but knows more work needs to be done.

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Olson opened the press conference with a a statement on the team's early progress.

Olson: "They have been working hard. Progress has been reasonably good, not the greatest at this point. I think it's getting better and some things, in terms of position, are starting to develop into what we are going to do. We have to start getting our best players together and get them accustomed to playing with each other."

"The biggest problem is the competition isn't there like what we've had in the past. We've gone to where we give the second unit a sizeable lead and play 15 minutes and they (the first team) have to make up the differential so there is a challenge. I think they are very competitive and when you keep score they want to end up winning."

"Hassan (Adams) has had a good week this week. It's good to see his play now. We've had a couple of guys out with injuries, which makes it pretty difficult when you are down to the numbers that we are. Isaiah (Fox) caught an elbow in the eye. Chris Rodgers had a strain to a tendon in his foot. But he was fine yesterday."

"They have been going hard. We've been doing a lot of running for conditioning because there are some guys that will have to give us 35 minutes or more."

Question: You only have two returning starters, did you foresee this kind of start?

Olson: "You face that on this level more so now because you never know how long guys are staying, or if they are coming at all. Hassan and Andre (Iguodala) got a lot of time last year, especially pressure time. Both of them respond well to pressure as was obvious last year as freshmen. Chris Rodgers' time last year wasn't clean-up. He played important minutes in the first and second half."

"From an experience standpoint, we're not as experienced as we'd like to be. I'm more concerned about the numbers, especially with the case of injuries like the other day. When you're down to seven guys it's a little disconcerting."

"The leadership end of it is still a work in progress. There are guys who are really working at it, but we still have work to do at that end. Hopefully by the time we start playing, the leadership will have been established."

"I would assume that the Andre-Hassan combination is getting a workout in practice because they are going against each other all the time. That's what we would like to do but we can't to make it competitive enough for the other team. We're definitely shorthanded, but there is quality there. The quantity is not normally what you would want to see. You just can't wait for everyone to get on track. That doesn't mean that everything we do is with the top guys together. In individual defensive breakdown drills, we have top guys going against top guys. When we get to five on five competition at the end of practice, we have to go with the top five or six and tried to balance it by giving the second unit a 10 point lead with 15 minutes to go."

"It's a lot like 2000, when you were down to six guys at midseason. Yes, or two years later when we had three juniors and five freshmen. I thought one year of doing that was enough, but obviously not."

Question: How has Mustafa Shakur continued to develop?

Olson: "Good. Mustafa is a natural leader. There is no question he is going to be in that role in the future. It's really difficult for a freshman to accept that role because they come in and they don't want to step on anybody's toes. They are new to the program. Mike Bibby was not the leader, Miles(Simon) was, but Mike developed into a good support leader. I believe that's what we have to hope for from Mustafa."

Mustafa is fun to coach because everything he does is full speed. He just competes. Guys love to play with him because he goes hard all of the time."

Question: Mustafa does look a lot like Jason Terry. Is there anything else about him that is similar?

Olson:"Mustafa is pretty quiet. JT was just personality plus. Mustafa is pretty quiet around us. I don't know how he is with the guys. He is a pleasure to have out there because he wants to do everything perfectly."

Did you get a change to see Luke Walton play the other day?

Olson: "I only got a chance to see a few minutes. I saw the first half where he got those three quick fouls, but I didn't see the second half. He came in pretty early off the bench."

"Luke is fun to play with and I think guys like to play with him. You certainly don't need him to be a shooter or a scorer. That doesn't mean he should pass up open shots. He's going to make the good pass and those guys are going to catch the good passes. I think it's a perfect fit for him. He has a way of getting people together. He has a great feel for people."

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