Game Talk: Arizona 82, Washington State 69

Game Talk: Arizona 82, Washington State 69

It wasn't pretty. The Wildcats sleepwalked through the game, Marcus Moore lit up McKale Center and Arizona defense for 35 point, but in the end the team eventually found enough resolve to come away with the victory. The following are some comments from Coach Lute Olson, the Wildcat players and Washington State head coach Paul Graham.

Channing Frye pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds to along with 11 points.

"In different games different people do things and I guess this game was mine. You never know what might happen the next game. I felt like we were kind of dead in the first half so I felt like I had to step up personally and be a presence on the boards."

What was reason behind what appeared to be the team's lackluster effort?<
"I think we just haven't had intense practices and I think some players are getting complacent. We need to have a hard practices and be enthusiastic about what he do. If we would have played this lackadaisical against a better team, a better team would have beaten us tonight."

Was there a let after the two big wins against the Oregon schools on road?
"No, I feel like no matter what happens, every game is important. For us, no matter what the name of the team we're playing, we need to go out there and try to get better."

Jason Gardner hit four three-pointers (three in the second half) to ignite a second half run to put the game out of reach for the Cougars.
"I think the biggest thing is in the Pac-10 every game counts and you have to defend your homecourt. Tonight we came out not mentally ready. I don't think it was that the energy level was low."

How did Washington State manage to stay close for so long?
"Overall, we just missed open looks and we gave them to many second shots and that was what kept them in the game."

But even after you extended the lead, the Cougars were able to come back and make it close down the stretch. Why?
"Once we made that big run, I think we got up by 20 or something like that, then we relaxed and gave them a couple more open looks and the next thing you know it's a ball game again. I think a lot of it was just (a lack of) our mental focus."

How important was the return of Luke Walton?
"The biggest thing with him on the floor is he brings a lot of leadership out there. He makes great passes and gets guys open looks and on defense he's a workhorse. So we're glad to have him back in the lineup."

Washington State head coach Paul Graham
"For us to get down by 20-something and come back late in the game, a miracle could have pulled it out and I'm proud of the way my guys played."

You haven't had a lot of success. You've lost 35 straight the Wildcats. How do you get your team to play so hard?
"We're going to play hard every night and I know we're 0-3 but the games we've lost we've been right there in the end and we had a chance to win. We just have to keep hopping and get over the hump."

Was it that Arizona played bad or you guys made them play bad?
"I though (Arizona) played pretty good. They do what they have to do to win. They got a nice team and basketball is a team game. Arizona always has a good five and they can go to their bench and now they have Luke (Walton) back. Anytime you can go into Oregon and win with maybe your best all-around player (Walton) and then another (Will Bynum) quits your team and you go in do the things they did that's pretty good. I like their team. They got depth, they've got quickness, they've got guys who can shoot it, and they've got depth inside. I think they have a team that can win the national title."

How difficult is it to come into McKale Center and play?
"It's tough coming into this place and play a team coached by Lute, a great Hall of Fame coach, and they got good players. They got great tradition and great fans and so that what makes it tough. But we were right there. We're disappointed that we lost the game and I want my players to be disappointed."

Can you evaluation of the Pac-10?
"This league is tough. I know everyone thinks the league is down and I think people say that because UCLA is not doing what they normally, do but they got good players. I don't think the league's down at all. We might not have as many marquee players as we've had in the past, but it's tough. I think every coach in the league would say that. A lot of people across the county don't see us play because of the time difference."

Arizona head coach Lute Olson
"The first half I think we played very lethargically. It started with not getting the ball ahead to the wings. It was either a combination of Jason not getting it to them or the wings weren't running the lanes quickly enough or wide enough. In the second half we got the ball to Luke and all of a sudden things started happening so we could take advantage of the big guys getting down court quickly."

How important is it to have Walton back?
"It's good to have Luke back and I felt his conditioning was reasonably good. It's at the point where we can pull him for a few minutes and he's ready to go back."

How would you evaluate Walton's play?
"Luke had too many (five) turnovers. The thing we tell them all the time is you don't have to make great passes, you just need to make good passes. The reason his assist to turnover ration has come up is he's passed up opportunities where it would have taken a great pass which is an indication it's a low percent pass. The job of the passer is to make sure the pass is completed. But I think some of that is that he's been out for awhile and his timing isn't there."

Were you concerned the number (21) of turnover your team had tonight?
"Thirteen turnovers in the first half, a good team doesn't do that. You can't give up that many shot opportunities. We have to get those turnover totals back under control and they've got to be under control by people making passes that are going to be completed."

"In the first half we tried to play everybody as much as we could and that broke our continuity up a little bit I think. It has not been a good week of practice and we played like we practiced."

What concerned you most about Washington State?
"The thing that concerns you when you play Washington State is that they have some outstanding three-point shooters. Our intent was to limit the three-point opportunities and we obviously didn't with (Marcus) Moore. Moore just killed us."

What was the game plan on Marcus Moore?
"You would know that we had a game plan. We were going to take away his left and make him spin and come quickly on him. He made some good spins and split our defense and that's the reason he's the leading scorer in the league. He's going to give everybody trouble with that. He can shoot the three and gets driving opportunities. He's a good player and I think they did a good job of seeing to it he got shots."

Did Washington State's defense surprise you?
"It doesn't make any difference what defense they're in. Just get the ball ahead to the wings and as soon as it gets to the wings it doesn't make any difference – man, zone, or whatever they want to be in – the second half we did a much better job of getting the ball ahead."

Channing Fray had a big game tonight. Were you pleased with the way he played?
"Channing's job on the boards was obviously very good. But he would have had four more dunks if he could have caught passes that were really good passes to him in the post."

How does a post player best make him available to receive a pass?
"If you're in the basket area and you have your hands up I just told the guys instead of throwing the ball at their chest with the post guys we're going to throw it at their nose. At least that way if you don't catch it you'll remember it for awhile."

Overall, were you pleased with the post player's aggressiveness?
"Channing was more aggressive. He and Ricky did a good job of blocking the lanes. Channing ended up with five blocks, one of which probably might have been goal tending, but he was active and that was good to see. Ricky I thought battled hard. He gets a hand a lot of balls in the rebounding area. The second half I think we played with more enthusiasm. We have to do that a lot more"

Why did you start Dennis Latimore?
"Dennis has played so hard in practices so hard all the time that we felt he deserved to start."

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