Tourney Log: Fun with the media

<B>CHICAGO - </B> Now this is a Chicago kind of day. Gray, cold, wet with just a few snow flurries. When I think of the "City of Broad Shoulders" this is what I think of. Hard to believe it is almost March, but it looks like the Bears should be playing not the Cubs.

We get to the arena for the press conferences and we have to wait for the Wildcats. They finally get to the dais and after Lute opens the session with some comments a reporter asks the first question about respecting Illinois and Olson instructs Ivan to answer, to which Ivan spends 30 seconds replying to the question in Serbian.

That got a laugh from both the team and the media.

Soon a reporter asks Salim how he'd defend himself. He does not give a highly technical answer, but does say he has been his own worst enemy and that teams try to get into his head early by being physical. Before he answers he consults with Olson, like a baseball player testifying before congress.

Later on Shakur is asked how they slow Salim down in practice and he says, "I'm not telling you."

One interesting thing about the group press conference is that Frye only smiles once and has a scowl on his face for most of the session. In fact, Stoudamire smiles more than Frye. Later on in the individual interview session he'll appear more relaxed.

Olson is asked about Frye and he mentions that a certain Pac-10 team close to home did not want him and that he is 8-0 against said team.

"Channing works as hard as any kid I've ever seen," Olson added.

He was then asked about how long he would coach and he reiterated as long as he was healthy and energetic. He joked that people keep telling him he'll need glasses, but he says he does not think that will happen until he is 80. He also added that he has great blood pressure, works out daily and currently takes no medication.

He was asked about the Salim vs. J.J. controversy and said that he only did that because of the lack of attention the West Coast was getting. He said that he can't blame an East Coast fan for not watching late games, but that Eastern journalists should be paying attention.

"Journalists owe it to the people who listen to them to be properly informed," Olson noted.

Olson then added that he felt that you could take playmaking guards from the east, southeast and Midwest and they don't stack up to guards from the west. Olson mentioned Stockton, Kidd, Payton, Damon Stoudamire, Mike Bibby and Gilbert Arenas. He then added guys like Dan Dickau, Luke Ridnour and Jason Terry. What made his argument even more compelling is that he left out players like Baron Davis, Steve Nash and Andre Miller.

The individual interview sessions were interesting. Ivan Radenovic decided he'd rather stand outside the little booth provided and was genuinely left alone. He joked around with Arizona sports information director Richard Page calling him "Big Daddy".

"You have one good game and you think you are so funny," page retorted.

Later on Frye talked about learning leadership from Jason Gardner, Luke Walton and Ricky Anderson. He compared Gardner to a big brother, Walton to a cool cousin and Anderson to a ‘crazy uncle'.

The Illinois contingent had to face question after question about defending Salim Stoudamire. Either Bruce Webber went to the Lou Holtz School of downgrading your own team, or the Illini are concerned about the hot shooting guard.

You'd never know by the reaction of the media that Salim Stoudamire was underrated. After Thursday night's performance the questions made him sound more like Michael Jordan than a player who was not even voted the conference's best player. Webber compared him to a video game because of his crazy range.

Of course that respect could not carry on throughout the day. At the end of the press conference one reporter asked about "Arizona State" before quickly correcting himself.

I guess the Cats have to go to the Final Four before people figure out which school they really are.


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