Coaches Corner: Here come the fighting Illini

Lute Olson, Jason Gardner and Luke Walton spoke to the media at Monday afternoon's press conference at McKale Center. The following are comments on the upcoming battle with the Fighting Illini.

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Olson on the progress vs. Kansas in the second half):

"The second half for us was excellent. We were much more aggressive defensively and we got back better in transition. We never did shoot it though."

Olson on what the loss will translate into for Arizona:

"We'll have gotten a lot out of that game. Schedules this tough (are designed) to get things staightened out by conference time."

Olson on Illinois' style as opposed to Kansas

"Illinois is not nearly as quick (as KU is) but they are more physical. The crux of last year's team is there. Frank Williams, Cory Bradford's a great 3-pt shooter as is Sean Harrington off the bench.

"Out of their three big guys, only one is physical, Robert Archibald. The other two guys (Brian Cook and Damir Krupalija) are more finesse. They shoot three's and feel more comfortable outside. Cook especially loves to play the trail post position and shoot it from the top."

Olson on starting Channing Frye vs. the Illini:

"Inside, we'll be relying on a number of guys. We're going to start with Channing Frye at the five (center). It's based on how he did far and away the best job defensively against Kansas. He's shown in practice that he deserves to be in the starting lineup."

Olson on how the freshmen are handling the KU loss:

"They're fine. Our freshmen are getting a lot of game-time experience. This is a difficult schedule, but for a reason. It's an opportunity to learn now before we get to the Oregon games before Christmas. No question Kansas was the best team we've played to this point."

Olson on settling on the starters and rotation:

"The biggest thing for us is finding our best rotation and starting lineup. But I'm less concerned with the starting lineup as I am the finishing lineup.

"Salim has been more efficient off the bench. Salim can come off the bench like Jason Terry did for us, so we've got to see if Will Bynum should be in the starting lineup.

"The same is true up front. I was really pleased with the way Dennis Latimore competed vs. Kansas. You can see why we're so high on him. He's strong enough and athletic enough to go up in a crowd and hold his ground. It's not the same with the other two freshmen.

"Fox is not the leaper Dennis is and Frye needs to get stronger to hold his position in a crowd. "Once we establish the right rotation, then the kids will have a better idea where they stand."

Luke Walton on Kansas vs. Maryland, Florida and Texas:

"Oh I definitely think Kansas was the best so far. They would kill our runs with three's or they'd get an offensive rebound or get a stop defensively. When Maryland or Florida made runs on us, we made runs right back."

Walton on how Illinois might see Salim's 2-19 performance:

"I hope they look at Salim's (box score) and decide to leave him alone because he'll go for 30."

Walton on matching up--and guarding--Illini PG Frank Williams:

"I'm really looking forward to it and taking it personally. Frankie is a great player but the coaches want me on him because I'm taller (6'8 vs. 6'3) and stronger. They told me not to guard him on my hips but to keep him in front of me."

As Walton left the room, he passed by Jason Gardner and said), "Hey J, did you get rid of that rash yet, dog?"

Jason Gardner on having big games vs. Illinois last year:

"Last year they were more concerned with Richard Jefferson, Gilbert Arenas, Mike Wright and Loren (Woods) and they weren't too concerned with me shooting the ball."

Someone then says, "Well now they WILL be concerned with you shooting the ball..."

Gardner answers: "They might try a box-and-one and I hope they do because Salim, Will, Rick Anderson and Luke are all great shooters."

Gardner on what he has told Fox and Frye about Illinois' physical style:

"Be glad Sergio (McClain, graduated) and Lucas (Johnson, injured) aren't playing."


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