Game Talk: Stanford 82, Arizona 72

While everything seemly was going right for Stanford, the Wildcats were having a day they would like to forget. Arizona shot 19.4 percent from the field in the first half and trailed the Cardinal 33-20. The Wildcats closed the gap to 10, but could never get over the hump. Stanford's 82-72 win clearly established them as the team to beat in the race for the Pac-10 championship.<BR> After the game, UA coach Lute Olson, Stanford coach Mike Montgomery and the players commented on game.

Lute Olson

Opening comments
"We're in the same boat as we were a year ago. They got us here and we've gotten them four straight times (at Maples Pavilion) and we have a chance to make it a fifth. You can see that it's not going to be a case where we can count on anyone else. That team is too experienced and too well coached and shoots solid at every position and the guys who come off the bench give them enough time to keep them fresh. Five guys in double figures for them, that makes them difficult to play. Some of the things we thought we needed to do and one of the things we didn't do very well defend (Matt) Lottich. But to his credit, when he's open he takes the shot and if he's not open he doesn't take the shot. You can see, if you give him an inch he's as good a shooter as there is around. He gets it off quickly."

Do you think depth was a factor at all tonight?
"I don't think depth was a factor at all. We can look at everything that you can look at but if you look at 19 percent shooting in the first half that's all you need to look at. The boards were very close. They got four more possessions between them, getting four more rebounds, but we forced them into five more turnovers so that's a wash. We ended up with ten steals. We were pressing late and there were times we got the steals. Then two times in a row we turned the ball over when we had them in a situation where they were a little shaky and we came down and turned it back over."

What do you attribute the low shooting percentage to?
"You can always say it was good defense and it was. You look at the number of cripples that we missed (under the basket), those are the ones you can't miss."

Stanford was able to get back on defense and limited your transition baskets.
"The only thing is if you look at turnover points, we got 26 points on turnovers. We got nine in the first half and seventeen in the second. Sometimes when you're pressing them they're going to back it out. They're not going to attack you on the press. The press is going to look better when it's late like that."

Channing was not much of a factor tonight. Why?
"He did lousy job on the defensive boards. I tell him all the time, you can't rebound without jumping and (Rob) Little is physical and he's pushing Channing out with his lower body. That's the weakest part of Channing's game. We are on him every practice session."

What did you tell the team in the locker room after the game?
"I told them we have to shoot better. The little things are going to make the difference. You can't put full court pressure on them and have one guy not doing his job. That's been our biggest problem, having that consistent effort so that everybody is into doing what they need to do. If you break down in that one spot, you're not going to be effective."

How good is Stanford defensively?
"They play very good defense. (Josh) Childress is lot like Andre (Iguodala). They both have really long arms and it's hard to get the shot off on him and he's quick. There were times when Salim (Stoudamire) made a good move and stepped back to create space and Childress was right there challenging him."

You made a run at them in the second half, but couldn't get over the hump.
"We went at them and Mustafa hit some big shots, but that doesn't surprise me. The tougher the situation the more he's going to hit the shot because he's such a great competitor. We got after them (with the press), but you can see you can't keep up that kind of pace for the entire game or it will totally take you out of it unless you can go nine deep on your bench instead of seven."

What happened when you cut the deficit to 10 that you couldn't keep it going?
"They made adjustments and the big thing is they got the ball in (Chris) Hernandez hands. He's really smart. We got some good double teams on him and he would step through them and split the double team and get the ball to the middle. That's why in my opinion he's the most valuable guy on their team, even though he had the worst percentage of any of their players."

Hernandez turned the ball over a lot too.
"He got them out of lot of tough spots too. We got some really good double teams on him and he's just a great floor leader from every aspect."

Why is it you and Mike Montgomery do so well on the other guy's court?
"I don't know. This is the fourth straight they've got us here and we've gotten four with a chance to get five on them. I don't know over the last ten years what our record is at Maples (Pavilion), but it better be awfully good."

Were you surprised that the press was not more effective?
"They're very experienced. They're not going to get rattled, especially when they have a guard like Hernandez. They're not going to get rattled. His high school team won two straight state championships. He's just a competitor."

Is Stanford just smarter than most teams out there?
"You have to have a really high GPA to play for them, because they play with great poise and intelligence. A lot of that has to do with Mike (Montgomery) too. I think there is a reason that they're undefeated. They dodged a bullet up in Tempe (Thursday night) but that's because ASU shot the lights out in the second half and Stanford missed some good opportunities. There are not going be very many teams capable of beating them. That's why we have to do as we did last year and run the table."

Were you disappointed with the play of Ivan Radenovic?
"This was the first really big game for Ivan and I think that's going to help him. He had some good looks that he didn't knock down and he's too good a shooter for that to happen. I'm sure too that it's an adjustment for him to come off the bench. He's been a starter in everything he's done and he's adjusting to that. We'll be better, but I thought we played well with the exception of putting the ball in the hole. It wasn't a case of us throwing the ball all over the arena, but you've got to make shots."

Channing Frye

What went wrong tonight?
"I think it was a combination of things. They just did the little things it takes to win. They just put on a clinic of moving without the ball and at some parts shots weren't falling for us. When those two things happen we're going to get a spanking like we did tonight."

Is bad shooting contagious?
"I don't know if it is. You know, we just weren't shooting the ball very well. But at the same time I don't think we were playing very hard. I think things just didn't roll our way."

Mustafa Shakur

You guys were ice cold tonight, especially in the first half, but was it more than cold shooting that lost the game?
"It doesn't help when you're missing easy buckets. I think a lot of times we weren't getting the screens, running hard and things like that. But concentration also, we got some good looks and the ball was going in and out. Salim had a tough night shooting wise. He got some open looks and just couldn't knock them down, as well as Channing got some looks down low. Those are shots he usually makes."

Did they do an exceptionally good job of defending Channing?
"They did a good job on Channing, but those are shots he makes against any other team. He catches it down low and he makes that turn around. But tonight the ball was going in and out. I think I saw at least four of them that went in and out for him. So it's tough to play like that."

What do you learn from a game like this and what do you have to do to improve as a team?
"We just have to learn to play as a team every game. We have to do a better job of executing our plays and defensively sometimes we played well and sometimes we didn't. We just have to put together a forty minute game like coach (Olson) says."

Stanford coach Mike Montgomery

Coming in here and getting what was a relatively easy win, are you concerned that your team will get complacent?
"I think so far the kids have prepared themselves very well. I don't think they have taken anything for granted. I think they have enjoyed and relished the challenges that they've had. If I see that coming on I'll just have to take the whip to them a little bit and get it out of them."

Arizona had a run in the second half and cut your lead to 10 points. Were you concerned?
"Arizona is too good of a team to not make a run at you at some point in time, but (Matt) Lottich hit some big buckets like he always does and Josh (Childress) made a couple of plays. When that happens you have somebody step up and make the shot. If you continue to miss shots in those situations those runs can turn into long runs and that's a problem. Our kids have had pretty good poise, but you wouldn't expect Arizona to not make a run. You would have expected them to make a run at some point. The thing that I was most please with, it didn't happen in the first four minutes of the second half. Then you worry because there are a whole lot more minutes to play. Then when (the run) did happen we were able to counter a little bit and that took some of the steam out of them I think."

Was Josh Childress guarding Stoudamire because of Chris Hernandez foul situation?
"No, it really depended on the match ups out there. Josh, because of his long arms, can cause a jump shooter some problems. So when you look at the match ups out there, that was a pretty good match up. Plus Nick (Robinson) plays some at the four and guarded (Andre) Iguodala, who has played some at the two, so it was just something that seemed to fit for us out there. We certainly respected Stoudamire's ability to hit some threes and get them back into to the game."

Were you concerned with your team losing focus in the second half and what did you say to them at halftime?
"We kind of talked about what happened at Arizona State. We went in with a lead and Arizona State became the aggressor in the second half and we didn't want that to happen tonight. So sometime when things like that happen to you it's a nice lesson because they remember that. They didn't want to let Arizona come out and be the aggressor. We started out the second half about as aggressive and focused as we started the game and that really helped."

Josh Childress

This is your team's fourth consecutive win here. How satisfying is that for you personally to come into McKale and win?
"We're really happy. We came out and played hard and played our game and were successful. You can't ask for more than that."

Are you guys more comfortable playing on the road?
"No, we just realize that defense is key. It's not something new, or something that just started. We played good defense tonight and we won."

Were you concerned when Arizona made the second half run and cut it to ten?
"Lottich hit some big threes and we made our free throws down the stretch and were able to stay ahead."

To dominate the way you did has to be gratifying?
"Definitely. For a minute there they really couldn't score, our defense was extremely good. We were pressuring the ball, we were limiting their fast break opportunities. Our game plan all along was to limit their fast breaks, obviously because they are very good when they are breaking. We were able to do that and that helped us win."

This is your fourth consecutive win here. How satisfying is for you personally to come into McKale and win.?
"We're really happy. We came out and played hard and played our game and were successful. You can't ask for more than that."

You guys have a deeper bench. Do you think that was a factor?
"Definitely. There was a point in the game that you could just see on their faces that they were tired. When we saw that we were subbing guys in and making sure that we had fresh bodies to stay with them and it worked out in our favor."

Senior guard Matt Lottich

There are not a lot of opposing players who can say they never lost a game at McKale Center. How do you feel about that.
"I'm very blessed. To come in here and play a team that's done so well. Arizona is such a great program. To beat them on their home floor, we're very fortunate and I'm glad we won. We play well when we come down here and we're very focused and I'm very happy."

You really negated Arizona's speed. What did you do to stop them?
"We just wanted them to take tougher shots. They like to get out on the break and score the majority of points on the break. We were able to get back on defense and contain their penetration."

You were also able to shut down Stoudamire.
"We mixed it up. I guarded him a little bit and Josh guarded him, so sometimes you want to have a shorter guy who can get through screens a little better and then Josh uses his length really well to force some hard shots."

Did you feel any extra pressure to hit those big threes that stopped Arizona's second half run?
"No, I just have to shoot when I'm open. I didn't really feel much pressure. They were wide-open shots because they were doubling Chris (Hernandez) a lot. Chris did a great job finding me and I was able to knock a couple down."

What was your defensive game plan?
"We limited what they wanted to do. We got them into a half court game and that's in our favor. We controlled the tempo and I think that's why we were able to contain them."

Do you feel more comfortable here than at other Pac-10 sites?
"No, I wouldn't say that. We were just focused. You know they beat us four times in a row at home. Sometimes when you're at home you just get caught up in the crowd and maybe you're looking around to see who's in the crowd and things like that. On the road it's just you and your team and you have just one task at hand and that's to win a ballgame. Sometimes that helps."

Chris Hernandez had nine assists tonight. How important is his role to the success of the team?
"Chris is our leader. He helps us from a mental standpoint and a physical standpoint. He's so aggressive and so strong and has such a will to win. He beat a couple of guys to loose balls and really set the tone for us. We were the aggressor all night, except for late in the game and I think that helped."

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