Lute Olson started the press conference by discussing the injury to Isaiah Fox.
Lute Olson: "From the start, I said that one of the things we needed was to avoid injuries and illnesses. That becomes a problem in terms of our lack of depth inside. It will allow more playing time for Kirk Walters inside, and we will have him more experienced as we start league play in January. We just have to hope that we don't have any other things come up."
If Fox's injury is as serious as possible, is there a possibility for a medical redshirt? (Note: Fox is indeed out for 3-4
Olson: "Yes, he's only played in one game and six minutes. If it's a long-tem thing, that could be a possibility."
Now Kirk Walters has to show up.
Olson: "Oh yes. I'm not worried about Kirk. He needs time and experience. I think his confidence level has gotten better and better as we've gone through the practices and the early games. Kirk gets better every day. He wants to get better. He's very, very coachable. His teammates are aware that he needs confidence, and they have been very encouraging. There is no question that Kirk is going to be an outstanding player. It's just a question of him getting stronger and getting the game experience that he needs.
What has Mustafa Shakur shown you in the first two games?
Olson: "Mustafa's ability to get the ball down the court in a hurry is important. He's shot the ball well. The normal area you run into with a guy coming out of high school is that they try to do too much, or is out of control at times with the ball. That still happens to Mustafa. He has to cut down on his turnovers.
"Another problem with freshmen is defense, but that is not a problem with him. He's been everything that we would have hoped. He is a tremendous competitor. He does nothing that isn't full speed. He's as hard a worker on the court as you would ever want to see. He never takes a minute off."
Is Mustafa Shakur a guy that could be a leader and control the game?
Olson: "He's become much more vocal in practice now. I think Mustafa is a natural leader. The guys have a lot of confidence in him. They love playing with him. That is important. It's important that the guy providing leadership is a guy that the team respects."
Salim Stoudamire mentioned a need to take better shots.
Olson: "Part of the thing about taking good shots is that he needs to be ready when he catches and be quick with his release. He's got a great stroke, but if you're not quick with that stroke, the guy that was two feet off you is now two inches off you. What I tell him when I see him shooting poorly is to stop thinking and just shoot it. Salim has such a smooth stroke he just needs to pick up the pace of his shot.
The game with Saint Louis is one of those games you enjoy playing. It's a chance to
play a slow down team.
Olson: "It's going to be the Washington State system. It gives us the opportunity to play against it, to recognize the patience needed on both offense and defense that is important when you are playing against that type of team. You do what you can to speed the game up, but be ready to live with it if you can't and don' t become frustrated.
"Sometime that frustration) can happen with a young team because you are on defense two-thirds of the game. Then you finally get the ball and you feel like you have to do something with it quickly and that's the worst thing you can do.
"I'd prefer not to (call set plays in the half court offense). I'm not the kind of coach that wants control of every possession. I think we're at our best when we are running. I'd like it if every possession were fast break or early offense.
"Last year, they played us close early. Then we created opportunities with our defense and got some easy buckets. They were playing their style for a while and then we got them moving faster than they wanted to."
Discuss this story on the BASKETBALL MESSAGE BOARD