What is Matt's (Barnes) status?
He practiced for probably 90 percent of yesterday and today so we anticipate him to be ready to go Thursday night.
How much of a difference does that make, especially offensively?
Execution wise and pressure release and his experience are all things that Matt brings to the team. So he is a critical piece to us being successful.
Does Dijon (Thompson) just go back to 10 or 15 minutes, or is there a way you can integrate him more?
I would anticipate Dijon playing quality minutes this upcoming weekend. Right now if Matt starts he probably won't start, but he'll see the equivalent of starter's minutes whether he starts or not.
Does that mean someone else may not be getting as many minutes?
No, we're still short obviously with Cedric out so I definitely anticipate Dijon seeing quality time.
Mostly at point guard?
At the one, two and the three. He'll play all three. We'll go back similar to what we had against Alabama. It will be a point guard by committee with Matt bringing it up sometimes, Jason (Kapono) brining it up sometimes, Dijon and Ryan Walcott.
Does it make that decision hard because Rico (Hines) played well defensively and Dijon had his best game?
That's a good problem to have. Rico obviously gives us the leadership and the toughness and good defense. He helps us with our execution as well. But Dijon, for a freshman, plays with a lot of poise. He makes things happen, has the ability to score and creates for his teammates. He's probably right on schedule to where we had hoped he'd be for this stage in the season.
Is a one-point win against UCI good enough for these guys mentally or did that let some doubt creep back in after the Alabama game?
I think it's less doubt as opposed to confidence and just knowing that we have to play better basketball on a daily basis in practice and in each game. When you get into conference play and you go on the road, it's very difficult to win. All of the areas we've been focusing on - taking care of the basketball, half-court defense and our execution offensively - continue to be the areas that our team understands that we have to improve upon.
Is the team more focused now that you're beginning Pac-10 play?
We've had to re-invent ourselves a little bit with changing lineups, injuries and playing different combinations of players. But overall I've liked our kids' focus. I really like the attitude of the team. They are very coachable, they like one another and they are very unselfish. But obviously the Pac-10 presents a big, big challenge when you go on the road. There are some very difficult, hostile environments to play in. We've lost four consecutive years at Washington. Our players understand what it takes to win.
Assess Washington's team.
They are very quick, very athletic. They have some young players that are contributing. They are very similar to Alabama in terms of they can beat you down the floor in transition, they beat you off the dribble with penetration and then they second and third efforts. Doug Wrenn is obviously explosive. He is an offensive weapon, particularly in transition and off the dribble penetration. Curtis Allen has given them good minutes and (David) Dixon has become a force inside. They have nice overall balance if you look at their starting five in terms of distribution of shots and points. They are very similar to Alabama as a matchup.
What makes it so tough to play there?
I think just the fact that when you go on the road in conference, every game is going to be a dogfight. They are obviously very well coached and they have had some teams that, in the first two losses, went to the NCAA Tournament. In the last two years, we played poorly and they played well and that combination led to us getting knocked off. So now it's been four consecutive L's up there. Last year Michael Johnson just lit us up and had the classic finish to his college career. He'll obviously never forget hitting the buzzer shot to knock us off. I think it's a combination of the fact that coach (Bob) Bender is a heck of a coach and they've had some good teams that beat us. They've also had some teams that didn't do as well, but we played so poorly and then they played well on that night and were able to knock us off. It's a combination of different things each year.
How about starting the Pac-10 this early? Do you prefer to start the conference season after New Year's?
Ideally, I think every coach in the country would like more practice time. More non-conference games before you get ready to play in the league. At least it's equal for all teams in the conference.
Have you been trying to stay away from talking about the recent troubles in Washington so that it doesn't start to get into the guy's heads?
Because we have a lot of older players, we've talked about the fact that if you don't bring a level of effort and execution, you are going to lose in conference play. We've been preparing the team. We've talked about how we've had some tough losses up there. We'd like to see things come out our way as opposed to the last four years.