We certainly played well enough to come out of it with at least a split. After playing unbelievable well at Stanford to let it get away in the final minute was very disappointing. We've got our work cut out for us at home.
USC totally manhandled us at SC earlier (Jan. 15). We need to forget about what went on this weekend and focus on the fact that we learn from those experiences, but there shouldn't be any feeling of security coming home because we gave SC a lot of confidence by the way they handled us.
The biggest single problem we're having is that defensively we're not getting the job done at all positions. At Stanford our two juniors stepped up and played well in all phases of the game. We just need for the underclassmen to step up. Our sophomores have to become juniors in a hurry. We need maturity from the freshmen (as well). We're just not a good defensive ballclub yet and that's frustrating because we have the ability. We're not mentally tough enough in some of those positions to do the kind of job defensively that we need to do.
Offensively, it's seven games in a row where we've been 50 percent or better or close to it. It's been on the other end that's killed us. We've said from the first day of practice that defense is what determines who the big winners are going to be. It all starts on the defensive end. Sometimes when people are very talented on the offensive end they can overcome that. There are going to be days when the other end has to carry you. We haven't done a very good job of convincing them of this. But we got an opportunity with five of seven at home.
How did the (Stanford) loss sting you? You seemed overly emotional in postgame comments.
Lute Olson: You're not going to be upset especially losing like that. It's the circumstances that get you upset. When you're up four and you have great position on the board and you go up and you become a helicopter flying forward - those kinds of things shouldn't happen. I was upset that Stanford had the foul to give and was trying to give it. Had that been called it would have not been the same type of gamble on a steal. At that point you say you can't foul.
When you brought this group together did you see that this could be one of your better defensive teams?
Olson: It can with the exception of two problems: youth and short bench. But there's no reason for them not to be. It's not like Mustafa isn't doing a great job defensively. We as a team did a great job on Lottich. He was the one guy we had to do a number on. But the inconsistency in our board work is really frustrating. We should be so much better on that end. It has to be good consistency.
Is it lack of effort of mental lapses?
Olson: You have to have five people busting their tails every second. If not, it kills you. That's been the problem. We can look at three positions and say we've been consistent defensively. You look at the others and we've been inconsistent.
This is still a team made up of two juniors and the rest underclassmen. That's a problem. The maturity is a problem. The only way you can get experience is through experience. When you go on the road to two really difficult places and you could have come away with wins (it's disappointing).
Do you come away from the Stanford game knowing there are positives that can come from it?
Olson: I'm hoping there will be. I'll see in 15 minutes (when practice starts) in terms of our guys and how they react. Do I think we'll be better as a result of that? Yes.
With the wing situation, what can you do to get them to play with more confidence?
Olson: Get them to be juniors. It's all there. It's a matter of putting things in a need for urgency. You have to play well on the defensive end of the court. Rebounding and defense should be consistent. People have talked about our offense through the years, but we've been one of the better defensive teams around. When we look at the conference (stats) and us giving up 46 percent that's probably the highest field goal percentage we've given up in years.
What do you do about Desmon Farmer this time around?
Olson: Farmer is a kind of guy where once he gets going he's hard to slow down. We have to do a better job of getting back defensively and getting to the boards. The guy can score. He's going to get his share of shots.
USC has lost five of six since beating you. Are you surprised?
Olson: Yes I am. They are experienced, a veteran ballclub. I'm sure Coach Bibby is disappointed.