Coach's Corner: Aztecs, Walton & Christmas

"I think they (San Diego State) are a good, solid ball club," Lute Olson began his short press conference. "They usually go eight deep, but they have five guys that log a lot of their minutes. They have a very good rebounder and inside player in (Aerick) Sanders, who does a nice job. I'm sure that (Chris) Walton will play against us."

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Olson opened the press gathering with comments on Monday's opponent.
"I think they (San Diego State) are a good, solid ball club. They usually go eight deep, but they have five guys that log a lot of their minutes. They have a very good rebounder and inside player in (Aerick) Sanders, who does a nice job. I'm sure that (Chris) Walton will play against us.

"I was over there for dinner this summer and he said that the 22nd had been circled for a long time. He's looking forward to coming out here. (Wesley) Stokes was a starter at Missouri and sat out last year. He's from Long Beach Poly. He's a good left-handed guard. (Brandon) Heath is very good player, a great shooter. I would think that they will be ready to play.

"As of right now, we are healthy and would hope to remain that way."

Have you had a chance to look at the tape from Wednesday?
"We still have some of the same concerns. Board-wise, although he put forth a better effort, we still need to get Andre (Iguodala) on the offensive glass, and we have to get Hassan (Adams) to be a factor on the defensive boards quickly. I thought Salim (Stoudamire) played well, very well defensively. For him to get seven boards is a big deal for us. He's been rebounding well in the last few games. Mustafa (Shakur) has always been consistent on the boards. We need to get Chris (Rodgers) to be more of a factor on the boards, which he can be because he's a good athlete.

"The first thing has to be the anticipation, and rebounding like you are the only rebounder on the court. We don't have that yet, and we need it because of our size."

Did good things come out of Wednesday's game in terms of guys stepping up?
"I'll see that in practice today. I felt that the practices leading up to it had not been as good from everybody. I felt that a couple of individuals had not practiced as well as they needed to and it showed in the game.

"We'll go hard today and put the San Diego State stuff in today and tomorrow. We'll work a lot on the things we feel we need to do better. We need to be consistent in terms of getting everybody involved on the glass. The game is still a game of fundamentals. I don't care how talented you are, you need to be solid fundamentally or you will never reach your potential and it will hurt us as a team."

Please talk about Chris Walton and his style of play?
"It's very similar to Luke's, though he's not as big as Luke. The same thing happens to anyone who sat out a year, it takes a while to get back in the flow of things. If you look at the percentages, they are not what they are going to be later on, but he is their second-leading rebounder.

"Sanders could play anywhere. I mean anywhere. He has 102 rebounds and the next closest is Walton at 53, which gives you an idea of how dominant he is. He shoots 60 percent from the field and 70 percent from the free throw line, so this guy is a force. He will be a definite challenge to Channing (Frye). It will be interesting to see how Channing reacts to playing someone this good. Heath will be a challenge for us with this three-point shooting. They have some guys who can put the ball in the hole."

Can you explain some of your pre-Christmas losses?
"Most of the pre-Christmas games have been on the road because of commencement. There have been some disappointing performances, but for the most part we have played tough schools in tough places immediately after finals. We're at home now and finals are over, so I'd be surprised if we didn't play well on Monday."


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