Coach's Corner: Cats need more mental toughness

"We are back to see if we can get the job done on Thursday night. It is a very important game, obviously," Lute Olson began his press conference. He touched on the Huskies, Cougars and the troubles the Wildcats have been having.

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Opening Statement:

"We are back to see if we can get the job done on Thursday night. It is a very important game, obviously. I thought Washington played really well yesterday (at North Carolina State). They missed some lay-ins down the stretch, other wise they would have came out in that one, and that would have been a great win for our conference. I think they really represented our conference well."

"Washington has been playing well. They have gotten good play out of their bench. They go about nine people deep, so they stay fresh and make a lot of things happen with their fast break, which becomes a key thing that I think we need to be able to control."

"They have excellent scoring balance, and it should be a very good test for our team. With them, it is a huge game from the standpoint of where they finish in the league and what's going to happen in regards with the Pac-10 tournament seeding."

On Washington's athleticism:

"They are very athletic, and they are quick. You look at (Mike) Jensen, he is a good perimeter shooter like Channing (Frye) is, and they have guys who can put it on the floor and penetrate. I thought Bobby Jones played really well yesterday. They have been playing (Brandon) Roy some at the four-spot, which gives them an athletic guy inside, so they do match up well with us."

"Washington has had a lot of close games that they have pulled out. They have been running the break really well, and getting a lot of opportunities off the fast break."

"Washington was expected to do well, because they basically have the same team that they had last year. I would think that they probably had a disappointing start with what was anticipated, but they have certainly turned it on now."

On Arizona's team chemistry:

"The biggest disappointment is that we have always been a good defensive team. I can't remember when we have not had a good defensive team. And that is the biggest disappointment to me, the lack of any kind of consistency on the defensive end of the court. It is hard to figure out. One of our primary problems has been communication all season, and suddenly it seemed like we were doing that a whole lot better. And then we had some really huge breakdowns at Oregon and Oregon State. We have had one guy break down, and that is all it takes in a team defense. It only takes one guy not to communicate, or not to make the switch when they should, and it is not something that should be happening."

"We only have two players out of the seven who weren't here last year. Even if they weren't starters, they were in practice situations last year, or the last two years. That is the single biggest problem that we have."

"With the turnover situation, at Oregon State, that was a miserable night for us in terms of taking care of the ball, but yet we out rebounded them by enough that in terms in number of possessions it was almost identical. We out rebounded them, for us to shoot 53 percent and lose is ridiculous, so there is only one thing that you can point at. In that game it was defense plus not taking care of the ball."

"I was very unhappy with our performance on Saturday night. I thought there were some guys taking off on their own. And when you take off on your own, you are going to end up with the results that we have."

"I thought we had some very selfish play, and that is something that we haven't seen very often."

"Its all about the team. If the team does well, everyone gets the recognition."

On former players sacrificing numbers for the success of the team:

"Jason (Terry) sacrificed throughout his four years here, and ended up being the seventh pick in the draft. Richard (Jefferson) was probably the lowest scorer out of the starters on that (2000-01) team, but he was selected because of the fact that he played team basketball and defended like crazy. Richard was a lottery pick because of his defense and his attitude."

On this week's challenge of playing an up-tempo and a slow-tempo team consecutively:

"We dealt with that on our trip in Washington, so our guys know that. You know what to expect. You know Washington is a high-scoring team and is going to get out and go, and that Washington State on Saturday is a team that is going to be selective. It would be worse if you had games back-to-back and a team deviated from how they normally play, and it hits you in an unexpected way. We know what to expect."

On Arizona's mental toughness:

"We need to figure out a way to motivate guys to defend. It not like we have slow-footed guys, or players who shouldn't be good defenders. We just have guys that won't communicate, or don't communicate enough, and mentally don't concentrate on the stuff that is given to them and the scout team stuff that we do in practice. I don't think we are mentally very tough."

"I think it all gets down to our mental weakness. I just don't think we are tough. We are going to have to look at what we are doing as a staff. Maybe we are just not hitting the right buttons in terms of them being as tough as they need to be. The nice thing is that you have some people like Channing that really pays attention to the information given to him. He's got a broken bone above his teeth because he listens so well. We told him Ian Crosswhite started with his right hand, and we told him when he starts with his right hand he is going to swing back and shoot it over his right shoulder. Crosswhite turned, and there's Channing there, so he jumped right through Channing's head. Channing said afterwards that he shouldn't have paid so much attention to the scouting report. (laughs)"

"We had great leadership last year. The leadership is so vital. If we had that kind of strength in leadership Saturday night the outcome would have been totally different. But we didn't have anyone to step up at that point. But that is Saturday, and we need to focus on Thursday."


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