Game Talk: Wildcats edge Cajuns

Louisianna-Lafayette came to play in the championship game of the Fiest Classic and almost pulled the upset over the No. 5 Wildcats. Had it not been for the dominant play of Hassan Adams and a last second three by Andre Iguaodala that gave the Cats a 72-69 win, the Ragin Cajuns would be going home with the winner's trophy.<BR> After the game, coaches and players from both teams commented on game.

Lute Olson

Opening comments
"Lafayette played really well. They were very quick. It was really a good game. I think both teams competed hard. The thing that we have to remember is that other teams can play well too.
"If there was any one thing that kept them in it it was all the steals. The 16 steals probably resulted in I would say 13 layins at the other end. Some of it was do to their really quick hands. There were a lot of times we got stripped and I don't think Ivan (Radenovic) has seen that kind of quickness up in the high post. He got it taken away a number of times.
"Andre was trying to make thinks happen instead of letting the game come to him. He had five turnovers and Chris (Rodgers) had five. The thing that continues to happen with our guards is the over penetration.
"But I thought Hassan (Adams) played really well, hit the glass well. It's good to see on the offensive end that we had eleven rebounds out of the guys that need to be key guys for us on the boards. Andre and Hassan can be great offensive rebounders, but that means you have to go for the ball. When they went for it, for the better part of the time they ended up with the ball."

Talk about that last shot that Andre hit.
"It was because of the little time we had that we were running a lob for Channing (Frye) and they had their whole defense to the ball side and Andre was open. Thank God Mustafa delivered it. But it was there all night long because they were really committed to ball side.
"But (Andre) hit a tough shot, there is no question about that. He hit a tough, tough shot. You've only got a small amount of time, so you're looking for the ball to be up in the air and you shoot the ball as it's being thrown to you. But I think the pressure in the middle is what opened the far side and it's something we've actually done very well through the years. It's not something we're doing very well right now."

You were looking for a leader, have you found a leader for this team yet?
"Mustafa has to be the guy. Hassan is the emotional leader, but if you look at the 27 minutes that Mustafa was in and the 13 minutes that he wasn't I think you'll see a huge, huge difference in our point totals. We need Mustafa to start, we need him in there right away."

Is Hassan buying into your demand to be a better offensive rebounder?
"Hassan is the one who has been a good offensive rebounder, but he's not been a good defensive rebounder. Tonight he ended up with seven and seven. The guy that has not been hitting the offensive boards is Andre, but he had four offensive boards last game and four tonight so that's a good sign. Those two guys are a load if they're on the offensive boards, but you're not going to get offensive rebounds if you're back peddling from 15 feet out or standing and watching the shot. Andre missed the only three he missed all night long and the rebound came right back in his direction, but he wasn't following his shot. Good things are going to happen if you're going after it all the time. I think they're getting a little tired and losing their concentration on us. But I feel very comfortable with the seven man rotation that we have."

How would you evaluate Channing Frye's effort tonight?
"If you're in the middle, you better move and get open. The other thing is you better get on the offensive glass. He had one (offensive rebound) and he had that at halftime. That's no one's fault but his. He's not anticipating his teammates' shots. He's waiting until the ball is in the air. The only advantage you have on offense is that you know your teammates, you know that if the ball is skipped over the top to Salim you know the shot is going up and before Salim even catches it you have to position yourself for the board. Channing waits until it's airborne and if you wait anyone can screen anybody out at that point.
"Ivan comes in and gets six offensive rebounds, seven out of Hassan, and four out of Andre ,and one out of Channing. That's Channing, so it's a constant problem that we deal with. Another problem is there are times when he has position and he's upright and his man moves him out. It's not because he doesn't have the weight now. He's up to 248 or 250 pounds but if you're upright and you're 6-11 they're going to move you around."

Salim had a tough night shooting the ball.
"Salim had terrible shooting night, but his game overall was not good until the final minutes. He did a great job (defensively) over the last four minutes, I mean (Brad) Boyd just could not get a look. But at the time I took him out he was 0-7 with one assist and one rebound. That doesn't warrant him being in there, but I put him back in there for defensive purposes and he did a great job."

Was Salim's knee hurting him?
"I told (the trainer), if the knee was hurting, to amputate and it won't be a problem again."

Hassan Adams

On the Wildcats win over UL-Lafayette?
"The big test was right before the Pac-10, it was a great team to play against and a great a coach. We're just glad to pull it (the win) off."

They got right back in the game by hitting some open three-pointers to start the second half. Were you concerned?
"We went ‘wow' when they hit those second half threes, but we had to jump back on them and play some D. They were getting a lot of open looks. We had to shut down and play some D."

Did their zone defense cause you guys a lot of problems?
"I don't think so. We just missed a lot of shots, open looks we shouldn't miss. We shouldn't let it take us out of what we do. Coach (Olson) always stresses to just play our game and don't let them dictate what we do. But they played the zone well, so we have to give it to them."

Does a win like this get you prepared for Pac-10 Conference play?
"Most definitely. This gets us ready for games like that, close games. We just have to do our thing."

How do you feel the preseason prepared you for the Pac-10 and the rest of the season?
"The preseason is the first step and second step is the Pac-10, then it's the tournament. We are going into the second step and that's when you have to raise up the intensity – the mental and physical – and get ready to play ball."

This was your best rebounding game. Did you play with a special purpose tonight?
"You just have to go get it. Coach stresses that if you do it in practice you'll do it in the games. I just want to win, so I do whatever it takes to win. That's just me. It's how much you work for it."

On Andre Iguodala's winning shot.
"It was good shot and he knocked it down and I'm happy."

Andre Iguodala

Tell us about that last shot.
"I was just thinking I was open and there was only two seconds on the clock. I was thinking of getting it up. If I missed it I had faith that my teammates would get the offensive rebound because they were attacking the glass all night. But when it left my hands I knew it was good. So it felt pretty good."

Are you guys ready of ASU on Saturday?
"This gets us ready for ASU. They're going to be ready for us. They're our rival and Ike Diogu is a great player inside, so we'll be ready to play."

Will a close game like this help you?
"All Pac-10 games are going to be close, especially on the road. So a game like (tonight) going down to the wire, we have to know how to focus and playing with no pressure when the game's that close."

Compare Louisiana-Lafayette to your other opponents.
"Louisianna was a great team and they can compete with a lot of teams in the nation. They showed that tonight, they played their game plan well. I don't think it was the type of game where we could blow them out. We played a good game and it was just two good teams clashing."

Did their zone defense confuse you?
"No, I don't think so. We were shooting the ball pretty well. We just had some turnovers (23) that we didn't need and missed some shots we should have made. But I think we'll be working on the zone a little bit more in practice."

Were you concerned when the shots weren't falling?
"I don't think so. We just have to get to the glass. When you're missing shots you just have to get the offensive rebound and work harder on defense. I think Louisiana played a great game. That was the main thing."

Thinking back to the Florida game, one point separates you from going undefeated in the preseason. Did you learn from that one loss?
"I think so. I don't think you would be a successful team if you were undefeated when you get to the tournament. I think loses are a learning experience and it's helped us out so far in how to close out games. I think we've improved a lot since the first game but we have a whole lot to improve on."

Louisianna-Lafayette head coach Jessie Evans

McKale Center is tough place to play. Is there a "moral victory" you can take away from a game like tonight?
"We know we can play so we expect to win every time we go out on the floor."

What is it like coming to McKale as the opposing coach?
"What I'd like to see happen is our fans respond like they do here - they're probably the top fans in the country - so we'd have a sixth man like they do here."

How did your team manage to shut down Salim Stoudamire?
"That's the mark of a good team. We shut Salim down but he just had a tough (shooting) night. I don't think it's anything special that we did, but then the other guys stepped up. Adams and Iguodala stepped up. That's the mark of a good team. Same thing with us. You've got to do that. Good teams will find a way to get it done."

Do you think by the end of the year this will be your best team?
"I'll tell you what, it's a fun team to coach. We won 25 games when Brad (Boyd) and Antoine (Landry) were freshmen and we won the league and went to the tournament. We got beat by Tennessee in the first round by three or four, but certainly it's the most fun team to coach. I don't know about the best but we'll see at the end."

Do you like playing as much zone as you played tonight?
"Well, it's a zone but it's a match up. It's more of a man (defense) with man principles, so I don't mind that. When we play teams like an Arizona, especially in this type of environment you want to really make them work to get the shooter the shot. While they're doing that the time is running off the clock. What you're trying to do is get to the last five minutes with an opportunity to win. These guys (my players) hate the zone but they have to do it because I'm the coach. It worked for us tonight but sometimes it doesn't. You go back and look at the tape and you'll see about 60 percent zone and then about 40 percent man and then about another 10 percent ‘oh my God he's making a hell of a shot.'"

How does playing in McKale compare to other arenas in your conference?
"It's great to play in a place like McKale because we won't play in a place with a more hostile environment than this. I thought we represented ourselves really well but let's face it we came up short. We expected to win. But to win against a program like Arizona you have to execute for forty minutes and they know that."

What was the difference in the game?
"We knew they were going to shoot the perimeter shot and crash the glass, but we didn't defend that very well. They got a lot of offensive rebounds and that's where the game was won, on all the offensive rebounds they got and the put backs."

Talk about this on the Cats' Lair MESSAGE BOARD

Wildcat Authority Top Stories