Coach's Corner: On the road to Washington

Arizona is rolling, but now they have to hit the road. Washington and Washington State may be at the bottom of the Conference, but the trip to the Evergreen State is never an easy one. The teams play two completely different styles, and that could make things more interesting than you'd expect.

Lute Olson began the proceedings with a discussion of the two Washington schools.

Lute Olson: "The trip will definitely be a contrast in styles with Washington the second leading scorer. When you get to Washington State, they are the lowest scoring team in the league. We will face a definite contrast in styles."

"Washington really likes to get it up and down the court quickly. They have guys who can shoot it from the perimeter and their five man is one of their leading percentage shooters in Jensen. We will have to be able to defend everyone on the perimeter. They take the ball to the basket very aggressively. Nate Robinson created nothing but problems for us a year ago. He is playing really well right now."

"(WSU) is going to be a matter where we will see a lot of times we will be on defense for 30 seconds. The key then becomes not losing your patience on the offensive end. When you are on defense that long there is a tendency to want to get it down and up quickly and that is the worst thing you can do. I hope our experience against St. Louis will help us on that. I think we are at the point we have matured enough we need to pass the ball enough to get a wide-open look. There is no question that is the secret to percentages of late. We are making the extra passes and looking for a good shot."

Could you talk about your efforts on the defensive, specifically, buying into the team concept?

Olson: "Defense is what wins games. I've always said the offense will determine how much you win by, but to be a consistent winner you have to be consistent on the other end of the court. It can not be four out of five, it has to be five guys playing in unison and it starts with pressure on the basketball and I think we are getting better at that. We are communicating better and Channing has done a really good inside to get the ball out of there as much as possible. We are allowing less drives to the middle of the court than we were earlier. That is very much a key. If the ball gets to the post it becomes a situation where they can pretty much pass it anywhere and if somebody penetrates the middle of the court, the free throw line area, then they have all the options available to them too. We are getting better at that. It certainly is not where it needs to be, but it is better than where it was a couple of weeks ago."

"It is going to take a little longer with young players. Most of them have not played a whole lot of defense when they get here. That is because they have been protected because coach didn't' want to put them on the best players because they could not afford to have them out of the game. All of a sudden you get to this level and you face a good offensive player every game."

"It has also been good for us to play as we have done with a zone being effective against one team if we felt that was their weakness. As we did against Oregon, we really did a nice job in man (defense). It is a case now where teams have to prepare for both of those defenses. You don't' see a 1-3-1 very often. It is not the normal thing most people prepare for."

Are you surprised that Washington is at the bottom of the Pac-10?

Olson: "We had nothing but problems with them last year so I'm sure it is going to be a battle."

What does (WSU's) Dick Bennett bring to the Pac-10.

Olson: "He brings a different style of play. He is well known nationally as an outstanding coach. When he was at Green Bay, his was a team you didn't want to play because of the style and they are used to playing low scoring close games. It is a different style than 90 percent of the teams, but I think having a coach of his stature in our league is a plus for the conference."

"The biggest problems I see with it is getting talented kids to want to play that style, most kids want to be in a situation where they have a chance to score and get up and down the court. There is always a place for that player and it may be somebody who is a late developer. You look at Princeton established that type of game, they have guys who came there wanting to play that type."

The players keep saying that making the extra pass has been a key in the improvement.

Olson: "That is the key. There were some good looks prior to that, but if you don't' get the ball reversed and move it, a shot that may have been there on the second pass is a whole lot better to take on the fifth pass, because you have moved the defense and you have a shot at the offensive boards."

"We have not only shot the ball better but, although there have been fewer offensive rebounds, we have been getting a better percentage because we have been moving the defense. That has certainly been a key."


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