Lute discusses Australia trip

The Wildcats are getting ready for a trip to Australia that will help prepare them for the upcoming season. The Cats last went Down Under in 1998. Cat Tracks had an exclusive meeting with Lute Olson where he discussed the trip.

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Cat Tracks: You get to go to Australia once every four years, and there are those who believe this comes at a great time, especially with the numerous young players who now have a year under their belts. With this trip you have the opportunity to try a lot of things that might otherwise not be available. What are some of the things you want to accomplish on this trip?

Olson: "The biggest thing has to do with getting everybody playing time. You play games in the (Pac-10) and you have to make sure you're having guys in there where you know what's going to happen. In Australia they play 48 minutes, like they do in the NBA, so we'll divide the game up. We'll basically have two teams, and play six minutes each of the quarters. It gives the guys who are generally out there for a couple minutes while someone else rests an opportunity to play, and they know they're going to be in there for that six-minute time period.

"In the past, the guys who benefited the most were the reserves who had been in a situation where they got a couple minutes here and a couple minutes there. Guys like Dennis Latimore and Andrew Zahn will get an opportunity to show what they can do over an extended period of time. We'll do this through each of the quarters, with the possible exception of the final quarter. At that point, we'll play the guys who have played the best and feel that out as the game progresses. If we have things under control, we'll probably continue with six minutes on and six minutes off.

"It's also a great opportunity for the team to bond a little bit more. They're gone for three weeks, there are no distractions with girlfriends or classes or things that come into play. When you come back from a trip like this there's more a feeling of unity."

Cat Tracks: Is it almost too bad you don't have the incoming freshmen?

Olson: "You'd love to have that, but generally speaking, if you had that, you'd be losing time for some of the other guys you'd like to get playing time. It also generally means you have outgoing seniors, and I think it's important for Ricky (Anderson), Luke (Walton) and Jason (Gardner) to play on this trip. I think they're looking forward to it. We'd like our cake and eat it too. We'd love to have those guys with us, but it's not possible."

Cat Tracks: What's the schedule like?

Olson: "The hardest thing about it is that we arrive in the morning, and now you have the whole day to try to keep them awake. We fly into Sydney, then connect from Sydney to our destination. We take that day off, but the next day we have a practice session against the Australian Institute for Sports. Those are the equivalent of fifth-year high school seniors, and freshmen in college.

"From there we'll get into a fairly regular schedule where we fly and play that night. We try to get a day in each of the cities. When we go to Adelaide, we'll be able to take them to the zoo. When we're in Melbourne, we'll probably take them to an Australian Rules football game. We'll take the Sydney Harbor tour and go to the zoo. They'll all want to see Kuala bears and kangaroos and animals we don't see around here. We have a couple days off at the Great Barrier Reef. The last few days will be R&R. We might try some white water rafting and scuba diving before we head back."


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