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March 20, 2007

Lute Olson wraps up 2006-07 season

Arizona head coach Lute Olson had his season-ending press conference on Monday and addressed several issues of note heading into the spring and summer. Here are Olson's quotes on many different topics of interest.

Lute Olson

On the 2006-07 season:

"Looking back at the season, there certainly was some ups and downs. The main thing is that we kept the streak of 20-win seasons alive and we kept the streak of 23 consecutive NCAA appearances. We played well enough to win 20 games, we played poorly enough to lose (11) games but we didn't necessarily play poorly in all of those that we lost.

"It was disappointing in a lot of ways. I think there would be a lot of schools that would probably be excited about having finished for a tied for third in what I think has proven to be one of the toughest conferences in the country. A lot of people are happy to get in the NCAA tournament so it's nice to have had that opportunity."

On Ivan Radenovic's recent invitation to a postseason All-Star game:

"Ivan has an invitation to play in the East/West game which will be held on Friday evening (March 30) at 7:30pm in Atlanta. He's excited about having that opportunity. Over the last few years it's been a collegiate team against the Globetrotters but the Globetrotters have been sold and as a result they'll go back to the format of East vs. West."

On Chase Budinger's recent invitation to play for Team USA:

"Chase has been invited to try out for the U.S. 19&U team that will have tryouts in the first part of July. The team that gets selected will play in the Global Games. The tryouts will be in Dallas. The games will be in Serbia. He'll be given the opportunity to make that team and I think it would be a great experience for him."

On Kirk Walters' summer plans:

"There will be some that will want to remain here the entire summer. One will be Kirk Walters. We'll need to continue to work (on Kirk's) strength and hopefully Kirk will be cleared to work out when we'd like to have him work out.

"We were concerned about a week or so ago when he came close to blacking out. At that point they put him a series of tests again and it's just a severe case of mono so hopefully by the time we get to the middle of May, he'll be ready to work out without problems."

On Marcus Williams potential early departure hurting the APR:

"The only thing that affects the APR is if he doesn't finish his units this spring. There are two points given, one for eligibility and one for obtaining. If a player leaves early, you lose one point but it's not a problem unless you lose two. I think Marcus if he decides to go, he owes the program that he needs to make sure we don't lose a scholarship as a result of him not finishing up the way he should finish up."

On coaching decisions affecting the 2006-07 season:

"We met as a staff this morning and as far as our effort, and planning, and everything else, there isn't anything we'd change. I just finished talking with Ivan and he feels from a player's standpoint, what could they have done to not have this happen. And I said, 'that's how the coaches feel' and he said that there isn't anything the staff could have done that they didn't do.

"We're just evaluating how we went about it and how we need to do it differently if we do anything differently. The biggest thing is we need to be stronger and physically more aggressive. The way this league is getting now, you have to play physically."

On changing the strength program:

"In terms of what's going to happen with the strength of the program, we're going to continue to work on that, but also the mental part of it too. They have to be pushed to the nth degree in everything they do. Now in the fall there will be a lot more emphasis on developing the one and one offensive and defensive skills and less time spent on working on shooting.

"With the big guys you still have to work on footwork but we'll make better use of the blocking dummies, and some of the other things just to get them more accustomed to the physical nature of the game.

"You can see from watching the games in the playoffs. No matter who you watch, those games are all physical and that's the way it's being called. It's not a game of finesse anymore, it's a game of strength. It's much more physical than it's ever been."

On Jawann McClellan being a leader in 2007-08:

"The thing that I like about Jawann is that he's a tough-minded kid and he's tough physically. I think he can add a lot to this team next year just by his attitude toward the game. He'll do a good job with his leadership because it's going to be a case where, just like this year, whenever he was able to be out there to work out he was always tough and hard nosed.

"I had the players go through an evaluation about a week or so ago and the most aggressive person was Jawann by a long ways in terms of the voting of his teammates, and that's what we need. He's physical, very aggressive and he's accustomed to winning."

On Nic Wise's 2006-07 season:

"I told Nic a few weeks ago that I bet he felt like Jason Terry felt his freshman year. Being a freshman is not easy. It's a huge adjustment in every way it can be but I thought he made great progress during the year and he's a totally different player than he was when he first started."

On Budinger's potential as a sophomore:

"Chase was quoted as saying that he wants to be the best college player in the country next year. I think that's a realistic possibility. When I talked to him the other day when we got back, when we gave him the copy of the letter we were holding about the USA 19&U team, one of the first questions he asked me was whether he'd be able to work on his strength while he was there.

"That's one of the things I want to talk to the coaching staff involved, that they'll make sure they have a really good strength coach that accompanies them all through the trials and through the game situations. It's important to all under 19's to understand how important physical development is.

"From the beginning of the year to now, with Chase there's been a lot of progress. As much as he would have liked? No, but I don't think he really realized coming in what the difference would be. He became much more aggressive as the year went on, but there were still times when he had one really good game and then not a very good game or a great first half and then not a good second half.

"I think against Purdue he had no rebounds in the first half and six the second. I don't think he suddenly developed rebounding skills at halftime. The league that he played (in high school) was not a good league, he knows that, he could coast a lot. If you want to be the best college player in the country, there's no time to coast."

On the incoming recruiting class:

"Jerryd Bayless is a tough, hardnosed kid. Jamelle Horne is that way. Laval (Lucas-Perry) was an all-star football player, first team. He's a tough-minded kid. He's a 3.7/3.8 (GPA), Jamelle is a 3.5, Jerryd I know is at least a 3.5.

"We've watched Zane (Johnson) play a lot and I think he's a tough competitor. Alex (Jacobson) is in a good program at Mater Dei. He's had an up and down year but probably based on opportunities. They're in the state championship in Sacramento on Friday night and he had a great game in the semi's. I feel good about the guys we've got coming in."

On Bayless playing point guard:

"He's played point guard probably 95% of his career. The biggest thing with using him at two-guard is because he's such a great scorer, but I think we've been known pretty well for using guys at the point who can score and make assists. You go back to Damon Stoudamire who I think led this league in both scoring and assists. Jerryd will play the point guard position in the NBA, I don't think there's any question."

On Mohamed Tangara's recent invitation to play for his national team:

"Mohamed has an invitation to play with the Mali national team. We just sent our acceptance of that back this morning. He'll go back there sometime in the latter part of July and the competition will be in August. I think (he'll play) in the African championships, but I'm not sure if he'll compete against Europeans as well."

On Arizona's recruiting situation:

"Our underclass recruiting is in the best shape it's ever been, in my opinion. The people that we're recruiting, a lot of those kids are (being recruited by) Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, if it's a Midwestern kid, it's usually one of the Big 10 teams.

"We're in very good shape with the young guys. I think our recruiting list right now includes some guys that have great potential that we need to watch this spring and summer. And there are some other guys that have scholarship offers from us."

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