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Olson opened the press conference by discussing the All-Conference selections.
Lute Olson: "In regards to the all-Pac-10 teams, we're pleased that seven guys from our team were honored - two on the all-freshman team (Hassan Adams and Andre Iguodala), three honorable mention (Rick Anderson, Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire) and two on the all-Pac-10 team (Jason Gardner and Luke Walton). We're obviously disappointed that Jason was not selected as the player of the year, but Luke Ridnour played awfully well for Oregon. That's not to take anything away from his honor because he's certainly had an outstanding season. As I've said before, my feeling has been the most valuable player is one that leads his team to the championships. As I indicated before, I thought our balance would hurt us in getting Jason named (MVP) because there would be some that would pick Luke, some would pick Salim, and some maybe even Channing."
"I think Luke Ridnour had a great, great season and is certainly deserving of the honor. The fact that we had seven guys picked is an indication of the kind of balance we have in our program, and the kind of talent we have in our program."
He turned his comments to the first round matchup with UCLA.
Olson: "Through the years, anytime it's Arizona-UCLA, it's a big game. From our players standpoint, they always get fired up to play UCLA. I don't think it makes any difference what the results of the two games this year have been. They know how talented UCLA is, and UCLA has been playing well lately. With the emergence of the new point guard, Ray (Young) has done a great job in that position. It changes how you defend them because he's a very different guard from (Cedric) Bozeman. He's a guy that's looking to score, and that will make a difference in how we approach things defensively. He scored 54 points in the last two games, which indicates you'd better pay some attention to him. I know they're excited about playing us again, so here we are."
Question: Have your opinions of the Pac-10 Tournament changed at all?
Olson: "No. I still dislike it. We'll be there because it's the vote of the conference and we'll try to win it as we did last year. I personally think 18 games is enough. We've played everybody home and away. Coaches in our league voted 10-0 to cut the schedule to 16 games so that would cut the potential schedule to 19 games in the league, but that was turned down by a vote of the athletic directors - the same vote that put the tournament in, minus Jim Livengood and Ted Leland."
"This is the fifth time in the tournament where we could play a potential of 21 (league) games. That's too many. It's taking guys out of class. I personally think that from an academic standpoint we're talking out of both sides of our mouth. We're being told as coaches that we have to limit the number of days that they're going to miss, and out of the other side of the mouth comes, 'ok, we're going to have this tournament and you're going to miss two or three days of school.' Stop saying that we want to limit the number of days because, frankly, the contract money-wise looked like a good deal. I think we're being hypocritical to make them miss school for no reason."
Question: Have you heard the philosophy that says go in and lose the first game to rest the guys?
Olson: "I remember Al McGuire saying that when the conference started, he said, 'If I was in a conference tournament, I'd make sure we lost the first game and got home and rested.' Obviously, that's not something you're going to do, and I don't think Al really would have done that."
"I think the tournament can be valuable to us from a playing standpoint. We have three freshmen that the more games they're involved in the better. Isaiah (Fox's) playing time has been cut way back because of the play of Channing Frye and because we've been playing Luke, Ricky and Channing as a three-man rotation in the two inside spots. I think it can be a valuable preparation, and hopefully, enough games in there to give us the preparation. We will not come out of this tournament, however many days we play, as a tired team."
Question: Steve Kerr is being inducted into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor. What does he mean to your program?
Olson: "When you look at the program and how it's developed, Steve's name is going to be right there in terms of the top people who have come through and the influences they've had on the program. Steve was a part of our first recruiting class here and his work ethic from what he was when he got here to what he was when he left...from an unrecruited athlete to a second team All-American to playing on a Final Four team. He's had a major impact. His personality, his team attitude...the kind of respect he had in the community and what he felt his responsibilities were."
"I take a look through 20 years, with very few exceptions, you see that same kind of commitment to Arizona basketball on and off the court. Not only winning, but doing the other things that should be done as a college athlete. This is a good indication of what kind of person Steve is. He called me because I am going to accept his award and he wanted to make sure I was aware that Tex Winter was there and tell the audience how important Tex was to him and his pro career. Also, to talk about Coach Wooden and the influence he had on his life as a ballboy at UCLA. That's typical of Steve. Instead of talking to me about what he had accomplished, he wanted to make sure other people were given due credit."
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