There was a lot of talk about Washington this morning on the weekly Pac-10 teleconference. Here’s a snippet of the interviews. Oregon coach Dana Altman was unavailable and we’ll post coach Lorenzo Romar’s comments later today.
Oregon State coach Craig Robinson:
(On Jared Cunningham) “He came back wanting to be a better player. He just attacked his individual workouts. He attacked this summer. He worked on his body. He worked on his shooting and he worked on his mindset. Jared is quiet kid and he worked on his leadership. He’s much more vocal in the locker room. He’s much more vocal on the court. I won’t say he’s bought because I think he was bought in from the time he’s go here, I just think he became more focused on being a great player.”
(On Joe Burton) “Joe is another one who went through the same thought process. He’s lost close to 35 pounds since last season. He needed to do that to become the player he is. He’s put the time in the weight room. Now when he gets the ball in the low post it’s not so easy to guard him.”
(Growth of the team) “It’s sort of been baptism by fire. We knew that in order for us to compete in the Pac-10 our younger guys were going to have to contribute a lot so we threw them in early. … I was focused on getting them some real life experience so they would be prepared for the Pac-10. … You see an effort for 40 minutes and not 33 minutes and you need that when you’re playing in our conference if you want to win games.”
Arizona State coach Herb Sendek:
(On Trent Lockett) “Trent has a sprained toe. … He didn’t practice or play at all last week. We’re hoping at some point this week that he can begin to do some things. He’ starting to feel better. We have not arrived at any final conclusion regarding his status for this upcoming week.”
(On Carrick Felix) “He’s had some spots of outstanding play for us early in the season, but Saturday against Oregon he really put it all together on both the ends of the floor and played an outstanding game, his career best game for us. I really like his promise going forward and he’s a terrific young guy that we added to our program.”
(On ASU tough nonconference schedule and just five home games) “We wanted to play a rigorous schedule. We thought that’s what our program needed right now moving forward. When you make a schedule though you don’t get to handpick everybody you play. Just because you want to schedule somebody it doesn’t mean they want to schedule you or the dates work out necessarily. So when it does settle this is how it turned out. We’ve had a very challenging nonconference schedule. We still have one more in Tulsa. It is what it is. We haven’t had very many home games.”
Arizona coach Sean Miller:
(On point guard Lamont “Momo: Jones) “When you look at Momo through two games in the Pac-10, one of the things that we’re trying to get him to improve is that assists-to-turnover (ratio). Three assists and nine turnovers. You can only go so far as a total team when that’s in place. That’s not to discredit him at all from some of the other things that he’s done well. He’s shooting 47 percent from the field and he had 20 points against Oregon State. He’s a great competitor and we love that about him, but for our team to reach its potential and have a successful Pac-10 season, no question that assists-to-turnover ratio is a big sticking point with us right now.”
(On Derrick Williams attempting just 14 shots in the last three games) “Teams have tried different things, mixing up zones and against Oregon fullcourt pressure, which put the ball in the hands of a lot of other different players. One deceiving fact about Derrick is it’s really tough to just look his field goal attempts because he gets fouled so much. When you add up both is free throw attempts and his field goal attempts, I think you’ll kind of say okay I can see it. His points per game haven’t dropped a whole lot.
(On Williams averaging 2.2 points per shot) “I hate to use the term ambidextrous because how many people really are? But if you watch him closely, he has a real gift of being able to shoot with both his right and left hand. Dribble with both his left and right hand. And pass with his left and right hand really from about eight feet and in. … He’s got a quick first step and he weighs 240 pounds. You put that all together and you also consider how unselfish he is, you have a dynamic offensive player. The one thing that we’ve really tried to do is really get him to develop as a defensive player and if that happens Derrick from a talent perspective and the impact he has every game will be really second to none.”
USC coach Kevin O’Neill
(On Nikola Vucevic) “Nik was overseas and he was with the national team for quite some time working with their highest level team. He was challenged everyday by guys who were better players than him and I think that more than anything is what young players need to do. Go play against good players. The best that you can find. He was able to do that and it obviously helped him. He’s done a great job in our strength and conditioning program trying to get bigger, stronger and faster.”
(On Washington) “We played excellent people in the preseason. We played at Nebraska. We played at Kansas, at Tennessee, Texas at home (and) I thought they were maybe the deepest and most talented team that we’ve played. They were hard for us to deal with. Their length off the bench really gave us problems. We’re not huge at the guard spot and that gave us problems. We had our chances. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but they had something to do with that. The thing that impressed me the most I thought Isaiah Thomas was totally under control and ran the team and made the decisions in both games over the weekend. I think that’s why they’re an improved thing more than anything. … To me they’re doing all of the things you need to do to be successful and have a chance to play for a championship by the end of the year.”
Washington State coach Ken Bone:
(On WSU’s recent road trip) “We were on the road for 13 days. That is by far the toughest trip of the year. We were in the Bay Area playing a game. Then we were in Hawaii for six days playing three games. Then went from there to LA to play two games. So it was by far the most difficult trip that we’ll have hopefully for the decade.”
Bone also said sophomore guard Reggie Moore is not completely healthy from a wrist injury.
Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins:
(On freshman guard Aaron Bright, the former Bellevue High standout) “He’s done a good job in practice and he’s done a good job in our last couple of games of really just playing with poise that’s needed at the position. He has a better grasp of what we’re doing offensively and now he’s defending. He’s been a pest defensively. So when he’s doing those things the decision to put him in the lineup becomes something that’s a little easier. Even though he’s younger you realize that he’s giving you a positive contribution out there and you want to continue his growth. He’s at a period of growth right now and you want to sustain that with him.
(Who does Bright remind you of?) “That’s difficult to say. There’s so many little terrific guards in this conference. Jason Gardener. Nic Wise from Arizona as well. Last year the kid (Jerome) Randle. I’m not saying he’s those players. I think he shoots the ball well enough. I think he handles the ball well enough. I think he has good quickness to go along with a competitive nature and drive. When you have that combination, you can be successful out there.”
California coach Mike Montgomery
(On Jorge Gutierrez who moved from point guard to shooting guard) “Jorge wanted to try to play that position originally and so we were able to do that. Gary Franklin has played it some. Brandon (Smith) has played it some. We tried to find the best combination for everybody. One of of the issues of course with Jorge is do you miss him at the other spots being able to give us what he has with his aggressiveness and his rebounding and defense. We were considered with that a little bit. But Gary has come around at that position and we feel like he can play there. We’re just trying to find the best combination of things we can do.”
UCLA Ben Howland
(On freshman center Joshua Smith’s foul problems) “We’re going to change our defensive scheme a little bit and keep him closer to the basket and try to cut down on some of his fouls that way. Some of his fouls in our last game were on moving screens where he was moving at end. We’re working really hard this week screening and him getting stopped in time and getting wide on the screen because he should be our best screener with that body that he has and the strength he has.”
(On Washington) “I was really strong in support of them being nationally ranked. I thought it was really unfair. … They lost to Michigan State in a game they could have won. The same thing with Kentucky on a neutral (court). They lose to A&M on the road by one and they win all of their other games pretty much going away until the SC game when they won in overtime. They beat us by 11 and we had a chance. But they’re a very good team. They have a lot of experience back. They have everybody back but their best player from a team that went to the Sweet 16. When you have that kind of a group coming back from a team that advances to the Sweet 16 and won the conference tournament, there’s no question they should be nationally ranked. I think it’s a little unfair of the national media not to get that. I think Washington can beat anybody in the country on a given day. I’m really impressed with (Matthew) Bryan-Amaning and how he has improved this year and is really a force inside. Obviously Isaiah is one of the best guards in the country and they play team defense. They got a lot of guys that really hustle. They play really hard. You got to recognize that Washington is a very, very good team.”