Coaches Corner

The Cats are back from Christmas vacation, licking their wounds a bit after dropping two of their last three games. The team returns home for their first home game at McKale Center since their December 1st loss against Kansas. Coach Lute Olson took some time to discuss the Pepperdine Waves, the loss at Oregon and the Fiesta Bowl Classic.

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Question: What have you seen from Pepperdine?

Lute Olson: "They've done really well with their schedule in terms of their play out west.  They've had some losses on the road, but they do have wins over USC and UCLA, so we know they are a good, solid basketball team. They are a very up-tempo team. They will press the entire time, have good quickness and like to get the ball down court and get the shot up pretty quickly. It should be an entertaining game.

"As you can see from the stats, they've got three guys that are primary scorers. (Jimmy) Miggins is a four man with three man quickness who has been a difficult match-up for pretty much everyone that they have played. We will defend him with Luke Walton. The other two, (Terrance) Johnson and (Craig) Lewis, are perimeter-oriented guys and, as you can see, they shoot a lot of threes with one of them having taken 60 and the other 56.  They are not bashful when it comes to putting it up from the outside.

"Their offense is very basic, but they play with a lot of confidence. The thing that is obvious is that he's (Coach Paul Westphal) designed things that fit his personnel and they just go ahead and do it. They have great quickness and good one-on-one players. He's doing things to get them in position to be successful. They will press, double-team guys with the ball, even after missed baskets."

Question: Can you take any positives from the Oregon game?

Olson: "There weren't many positive things to find regarding the Oregon game, other than the one spot where we out-played them was the spot you probably wouldn't expect, and that was in the post position with Frye and that match-up. It's great to see him coming on in the way that he is coming on. He's just getting increasingly more aggressive and going after every ball that's up.  So we're pleased with his progress."

Question: What is the next step in Channing Frye's development?

"Doing a better job of getting open inside. We need a second and third effort on the offensive end. Defensively he needs to anticipate the other player's drives to the basket a little bit better. He has a tendency to wait in the basket area to make a play. He needs to attack the ball and make the guy make a play outside of the lane instead of in the lane.

"The thing with Channing is that you are seeing the steady improvement he's shown all along. You are finally getting to see in games what we've been seeing in practice. With the number of minutes that Channing and Isaiah have gotten, they've probably gotten as many minutes as most freshmen get all year."

Question: Where does the team need to improve?

Olson: "We need to get better balance with the whole thing offensively. I think the way that Channing played up there that the perimeter guys are gaining more confidence in him. He got the ball and made quick moves, instead of faking and allowing extra guys to help on him. The best time to make your move inside is right away before the drop help gets there.

"We're at home for four games, so hopefully we'll be able to develop some consistency during that time, as opposed to being on and off airplanes. It seems like the only time we've been at home was for final exams."

Question: What does it mean to you to have Bobbi honored by the Fiesta Bowl Classic?

Olson: It means a lot that the Fiesta Bowl Basketball Committee saw to it that Bobbi's name was attached. There are a lot of things in connection with this tournament that the average fan doesn't see, like tomorrow's luncheon that Bobbi had been involved with. She wanted this to be more than just a guys thing...just to make it a fun occasion for the women, as well.  We had always done a dinner with the other head coaches and their wives one night. This probably wasn't the normal kind of tournament in most places. From a family standpoint, it's very, very important."

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