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Lute Olson: "We hated to see him go. He was really a very popular guy with his teammates and the staff. But what may have done it in the end was that he saw that Jason (Gardner) and Salim (Stoudamire), who were ahead of him a year ago, (were still there) and he felt like he needed to be on the court more. I can certainly understand that. As far as how that effects us, Hassan (Adams) has been playing a lot of two (shooting guard) as well as three (small forward). Chris Rodgers defensively is ready and we're hoping that he'll continue to work hard on the offensive end and just let the game come to him. "
Question: With so much talent on the roster, do you ever prepare for someone's departure?
Olson: "No, you don't. You just take it as it comes. You never know when you're going to have injuries or other things happen. Every year, people say, "with all of that depth..." Very seldom does it work out that there are more (players) than are going to get time. When you look at us this year, a good example is Luke and Salim. How much time have they been limited as a result of injuries. You just hope kids get the big picture instead of the immediate, but that seems to be the trend of the day."
Question: Does Luke Walton jump right back into the starting lineup?
Olson: "If his practices today and tomorrow are such that he's ready to go, then he will be in there. (For Hassan?) I'll surprise you (laughter). I want there to be something to keep you on edge until Thursday (smiling). It's a great accomplishment for the other members of our team to be able to start the (conference) season with two wins. A year ago, we had Luke and got beat by 30 at Oregon."
Question: What are your thoughts on Washington State?
Olson: "We have to be concerned about us and not somebody else. The important thing is that we come out ready to play, and whoever is there, is there. In watching some of their tape, I can see why Washington State is excited about the people they have on board now. Those two guards (Marcus Moore and Thomas Kelati) can play. They're 6-foot-5 and create real match-up problems for you, and yet you think they'll have the same problems at the other end. But they don't, because if they go into a zone, the smallest guy is 6-foot-5. They've done a good job of getting a much better caliber of athlete in there."
Question: Do you anticipate Jason Gardner playing increased minutes now?
Olson: "He'll play whatever is needed. The other thing is that Jason is in such great shape. He plays 35 minutes like other people play 12. Even when you pull him out of the game, you expect him to at least be breathing hard...he's not. He's just in great condition. Part of that is that he pushes himself very hard all the time in practice. You never see him back off when he starts to get tired. He's just a great competitor...He's a warrior. If it were up to him, he'd never come out of the game."