Back to the Hardwood: The Arizona Wildcats begin the 1999-2000 campaign on Saturday, Oct. 16, with the first day of practice. They will open with two practices on Saturday, and that will be followed by one-a-day workouts for 15 days until the Pepsi Red-Blue Scrimmage, which is set for Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. in McKale Center. This season, Arizona returns eight letterwinners and three starters from last season's Wildcat team which finished 22-7 (13-5/2nd in the Pac-10) and reached the NCAA Tournament for the program's 15th consecutive year. Arizona will have a couple of exhibitions before opening up the regular season on Tuesday, Nov. 16, in the first round of the preseason NIT against Kansas State in McKale Center. That game will tip-off at 8:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally by ESPN2. Should the Cats win that contest, they would host the winner of the Hofstra/New Mexico State game on Friday, Nov. 19 at 9:30 p.m. for the right to advance to New York City and play in the tourney's semi-finals and finals.
Season Media Credentials: Be sure to pick up a media credential request for the upcoming season and return it to a member of the UA Sports Information staff ASAP. Credentials should be ready for pick-up prior to the Nov. 2 Pepsi Red/Blue Scrimmage.
Pac-10 Media Day: The year's Pac-10 Conference men's basketball media day is set for Thursday, Nov. 4, at the Los Angeles Airport Sheraton Gateway (6101 W. Century Blvd.) from 10:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. All of the conference's head coaches will be in attendance, as will Arizona sophomore forward Michael Wright and a handful of other players from around the league. The 1999-2000 preseason Pac-10 men's basketball media poll will be announced on that day.
Arizona Basketball On TV This Year: Each of Arizona's 29 regular season games will be televised on either Fox Sports Net, ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, CBS or KWBA. The Wildcats appear on Fox Sports Net 20 times, ESPN twice, ESPN2 twice, CBS once, ABC once and on Tucson's KWBA three times. Should Arizona advance to the Preseason NIT's second round, semi-finals and final, it would make one more showing on ESPN2 and have two more ESPN games. The Pepsi Red-Blue Scrimmage will not be televised.
Preseason Rankings: Arizona is drawing a lot of attention in the preseason rankings and magazines that have come out so far. The Cats have been anywhere from No. 5 (The Sporting News) to No. 18 (Lindy's). A complete listing of all the preseason polls and individual accolades are listed later on this release. Last season, the Cats entered media day ranked anywhere from No. 10 to No. 18.
WILDCAT CALENDAR Sat., Oct. 16 - First Day of Practice for 1999-2000. Mon., Oct. 18 - Media Day, 11:45 p.m., McKale Room. Tues., Nov. 2 - Red/Blue Scrimmage, 7:30 p.m., General Admission tickets available for $3 in the McKale Center Ticket Office (621-CATS), No TV. Thurs., Nov. 4 - Pac-10 Media Day, Los Angeles Airport Sheraton Gateway, 10:30 - 2 p.m. Sun., Nov. 7 - Exhibition vs. Lithuanian Club Team, 3 p.m., McKale Center, Fox Sports Net Arizona Thurs., Nov. 11 - UA Men's Basketball Tip-Off Luncheon Noon, La Paloma Resort. Tickets are $26 per person and can be purchased by calling 621-6133. Sun., Nov. 14 - Exhibition vs. California All Stars, 3 p.m., McKale Center, Fox Sports Net Arizona. Tues., Nov. 16 - Preseason NIT vs. Kansas State, 8:30 p.m., McKale Center/ESPN2
Who's Back: Heading the group of three returning starters and eight letterwinners is last year's Freshman All-American and Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, Michael Wright. A 6-foot-7, 238-pound sophomore from Chicago, Ill. (Farragut Academy), he has received preseason acclaim as being one the top power forwards in the country for 1999-2000. He is the team's leading returning scorer (13. 9 ppg) and rebounder (8.8 rpg) after posting the best rebounding average by a freshman in Pac-10 history last season. The other two returning starters from last year are also sophomores this year, and they are Richard Jefferson (F, 6-7, 222, Phoenix, Ariz.) and Ruben Douglas (G, 6-4, 192, Altadena, Calif.). Jefferson was an All-Pac-10 Freshman team performer last season after averaging 11.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 2.9 apg, while Douglas was named to the All-Pac-10 Freshman honorable mention team in 1998-99. Among the other returning letterwinners are Justin Wessel (F, 6-8 , 225, Jr., Cedar Rapids, Iowa), Rick Anderson (F, 6-8 , 221, So., Long Beach, Calif.), John Ash (G, 5-10, 177, Jr., Tucson, Ariz.) and probably the most valuable player in the country who has averaged 2.8 minutes per game during his three-year career, Josh Pastner (G, 5-11, 182, Kingwood, Texas).
A Redshirt Year: Another face that is returning this season, but will not be playing is Eugene Edgerson... He will redshirt this season so he can complete his degree requirement in his education major... In order to accomplish his goal of getting his degree and teaching certificate from the UA in four years, he will student teach during the 2000 spring semester, while fulfilling other requirements this fall... Depending on his student teaching schedule, he will still be able to practice with the team.
The (Kind Of) New Faces: There are eight players on this season's roster who have never played in a game for the Wildcats before, although two of them were with the program last year and sat out either as a transfer or with a redshirt season. The transfer is junior center Loren Woods (7-1, 251, St. Louis, Mo.), who came to Arizona from Wake Forest. The former McDonald's All-American had to sit out last year, but is eligible to play in 1999-00 and will establish his presence right away. He did practice with the Cats in 1998-99, so he has a good knowledge of the system. The redshirt is Luke Walton (F, 6-8, 228, Fr., San Diego, Calif.). He missed last season with a medical redshirt after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot. He was healthy towards the end of last year and was able to practice with the team towards the end of February and coaches were impressed with his progress.
The New Guys: The six fresh faces on the team are comprised of a talented group... There are two transfers and four true freshmen... Junior college guard Lamont Frazier (6-3, 182, Jr.) comes to Tucson from Lon Morris Junior College in Jacksonville, Texas and is originally from Los Angeles... The second high-profile transfer in two years to come to Arizona is Indiana transfer Luke Recker (G/F, 6-6, 190, Jr., Auburn, Ind.)... Just as the case was with Loren Woods last season, he must sit out this season as a result of NCAA transfer rules, but will be allowed to practice with the team... He will not practice until probably early December, as a result of the broken left wrist he suffered in a car wreck back in early July... His rehab process is going extremely well and he is gradually gaining back his full range of motion... The four true freshmen on the squad include McDonald's All-American Jason Gardner (G, 5-10, 178, Indianapolis, Ind.), Gilbert Arenas (G, 6-3, 191, North Hollywood, Calif.), Robertas Javtokas it's pronounced YAV-toe-kus (C, 6-10, 229, Siauliai, Lithuania) and walk-on Michael Schwertley (F, 6-5, 214, Phoenix, Ariz.).
The UA's record of 320-74 over the course of the past 12 years gives it the nation's best winning percentage during that span (.812).
Coach O: Lute Olson (Augsburg '56) begins his 17th season as the head coach at Arizona and his 27th overall as a head coach... This season will see him reach of number of milestones in what has become a Hall of Fame type coaching career... He has a career record of 587-212 (.735), while his mark in Tucson stands at 395-120 (.767) and he has made Arizona one the dominant programs in the country... The first game of the season will be his 800th career game as a head coach and he needs just 13 more wins for career win No. 600, which would make him one of just 33 coaches in NCAA history to win 600 or more games... With five more wins, he will reach 400 for his Arizona career... During his tenure at Arizona, the Wildcats have won one national championship (1997), gone to three Final Fours (1987, 1994, 1997), won eight Pac-10 Conference titles and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 15 years in a row, which is the second longest streak in NCAA history (North Carolina, 25)... He has been named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year six times and directed the program to the nation's best winning percentage over the past 12 years... His Pac-10 record stands at 223-65 (.774) and he is one of just six coaches in league history to win 200 or more conference games... Prior to coming to Arizona, he was at Iowa for nine years where he owned a 167-91 mark and before that, he was at Long Beach State for one season (1973-74), where he went 24-2... In his collegiate career, he has produced University of Arizona 35 NBA Draft picks, including 20 at Arizona 15 alone on the 1990s... He has led Arizona to 12 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 21 overall in his career... A part of the reason for Arizona's home court dominance, the Cats have gone 243-25 during his career in McKale Center and have won 172 out of their last 182 home games.
The Coach's Show: Once again this season, KNST will air the Lute Olson Coach's Show and it is hosted by Brian Jeffries... Due to Arizona travel conflicts during the non-conference season, the show will air just once prior to Pac-10 play... The first show is on Monday, Nov. 29, at 6:30 p.m. It is broadcast live from Bob's at 6350 East Tanque Verde Road... The show will then be aired for the television portion of the Lute Olson Show, showing on Tuesday, Nov. 30, at 10:30 p.m. on UPN channel 18... The next Lute Olson Show after this will be on Monday, Jan. 3, at 6:30 p.m. and the TV show will be shown Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 10:30 p.m.
Injury Update: Outside of Luke Recker's rehab for his wrist, the rest of the Arizona basketball program is heathy with one exception... Assistant coach Jay John suffered a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee, an injury that was sustained on Oct. 13 in a pick-up game in Bear Down Gym.
Where Are You From?: California is the state that can claim the most members of this year's Wildcats, as five players are from "The Golden State " (Rick Anderson, Gilbert Arenas, Ruben Douglas, Lamont Frazier and Luke Walton)... There are three from Arizona (John Ash, Richard Jefferson & Michael Schwertley) and two from Indiana (Jason Gardner, Luke Recker)... The rest of the roster contains six players from different states and countries, as the case is with Robertas Javtokas, who is from Siauliai, Lithuania... His city is pronounced SHAW-lay.
The Golden Arches: This season's roster has four former McDonald's All-Americans Jason Gardner, Richard Jefferson, Luke Recker and Loren Woods.
1999-2000 Preseason Rankings Team Rankings The Sporting News - 5th Basketball News - 7th Blue Ribbon College Yearbook - 7th Street & Smith's - 9th Sport Magazine - 9th Basketball Times - 13th Lindy's College Sports - 18th Picked to finish first in the Pac-10 - The Sporting News Picked to finish first in the Pac-10 - Basketball News Picked to finish first in the Pac-10 - Athlon Sports Picked to finish first in the Pac-10 - Street & Smith's Picked to finish first in the Pac-10 - Sport Magazine The Sporting News No. 3 Frontcourt in the Country Lindy's College Basketball No. 5 Frontcourt in the Country Street & Smith's No. 2 Frontcourt in the Country Individual Rankings Michael Wright * The Sporting News No. 2 Power Forward in the Country * The Sporting News Pac-10 All-Conference First Team * Pac-10's Best NBA Prospect - The Sporting News * Street & Smith's No. 3 Power Forward in the Country * Street & Smith's All-Pac-10 Team * Basketball News All-Pac-10 First Team * Basketball News No. 6 "Banger" in the Country * Athlon Sports All-Pac-10 First Team * Lindy's No. 8 Power Forward in the Country * "All Class of 2002" (Sophomores Who May Be Raw But Have Serious Skills), Sport Magazine Loren Woods * The Sporting News No. 6 Center in the Country * The Sporting News Pac-10 All-Conference Team * The Sporting News Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year * Athlon Sports All-Pac-10 Second Team * Athlon Sports Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year * Lindy's No. 8 Center in the Country * "All-Witness Protection" (Impact Transfers Whose Time is Now), Sport Magazine Richard Jefferson * Athlon Sports All-Pac-10 Third Team * Lindy's No. 14 Small Forward in the Country Jason Gardner * Basketball News Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year * Street & Smith's Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year Arizona 1999-2000 Opponents Preseason Rankings Michigan St. No. 1/The Sporting News, No. 1/Blue Ribbon, No. 2/Basketball News No. 2/Street & Smith's, No. 3/Basketball Times, No. 3/Lindy's Connecticut No. 3/The Sporting News, No. 3/Street & Smith's, No. 5/Connecticut, No. 6/Basketball News, No. 6/Blue Ribbon, No. 8/Lindy's UCLA No. 4/Basketball Times, No. 6/Lindy's No. 10/Basketball News, No. 11/Blue Ribbon No. 14/Street & Smith's, No. 15/The Sporting News Stanford No. 9/The Sporting News, No. 10/Street & Smith's, No.10/Blue Ribbon, No. 23/Basketball News Texas No. 22/The Sporting News, No. 23/Street & Smith's, No. 24/Blue Ribbon New Mexico No. 23/Lindy's
Notes on the 1998-99 Season: Arizona will take the nation's fourth-longest home winning streak into the season... The UA has 32 consecutive home games, trailing only Murray State (42), Duke (35) and Utah (35)... The Cats have won 172 of their past 182 home games... Dating back to the start of the 1997-98 season, Arizona has been ranked in the top-10 in 30 of 36 polling periods... Since the start of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats own a record of 58-12... UA has the most wins of any Pac-10 team in the 1990s (256)... Arizona's winning percentage of .793 in the 1990s is the third-best in the country, trailing only Kansas (.827) and Kentucky (.817)... The Cats have not recorded a double-digit loss total since 1986-87... The Wildcats' seven All-Americans during the 1990s trails only Duke's 10... UA and North Carolina are tied for second-most in the 1990s... Overall, Arizona has been ranked in the regular season Top-25 rankings for 199 straight weeks.
Then There Were Four: Just four players on this year's roster remain from Arizona's 1997 NCAA Championship team Eugene Edgerson, Justin Wessel, John Ash and Josh Pastner.
Who's Gone From 1998-99: Leading the losses from last season are 1998-99 seniors Jason Terry and A.J. Bramlett... Terry was named the National Player of the Year in three circles last season and was the Pac-10 Player of the Year after becoming the first player to lead the league in scoring (21.9 ppg), assists (5.5) and steals (2.8) in the same season since Gary Payton of Oregon State did it in 1989-90... He was No. 10 in the NBA Draft and went to the Atlanta Hawks... Bramlett was an All-Pac-10 selection last season after averaging 14.2 ppg, 9.4 rpg... Both Terry and Bramlett were members of four Arizona teams that went 103-28 (55-4 at home), while winning a national title, a Pac-10 Championship and they went 11-3 in the NCAA Tournament... Jason Stewart was the third senior last season, while Traves Wilson transferred in the off-season.
Final 1998-99 Pac-10 Standings Pac-10 Overall 1. Stanford 15-3 26-7 2. Arizona 13-5 22-7 3. UCLA 12-6 22-9 4. Washington 10-8 17-12 T5. California 8-10 22-11 T5. Oregon 8-10 19-13 T7. USC 7-11 15-13 T7. Oregon State 7-11 13-14 9. Arizona State 6-12 14-16 10. Washington St. 4-14 10-19
Arizona's NCAA History: Last year marked the 18th time Arizona has made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament and it was the 15th invite under head coach Lute Olson... UA's current string of 15 consecutive appearances in the NCAAs is the second longest streak in NCAA history, trailing only North Carolina's 25 straight invites (UNC's is a current streak as well)... it was the 20th time in the last 21 years that Olson has taken a team to the NCAAs... He has directed Arizona to 15 tourneys and a 24-14 record -- and when he was the coach at Iowa, he coached five Hawkeye squads to the NCAAs... With 20 career appearances in the NCAA Tournament, he is tied for fourth on the NCAA's all-time tournament appearance list for head coaches with Adolph Rupp and John Thompson... Over the course of their last 20 NCAA games, the Wildcats own a record of 15-5... In the last five years, Arizona has played in 21 tournament games... Arizona's all-time record in the NCAA Tournament is now 26-17... The Wildcats have been to three Final Fours -- 1988, 1994 & 1997... Arizona has advanced to the Sweet 16 seven times in the last 12 years.
20-Win Campaigns: With its record of 22-7 last season, it marked the 12th consecutive season that Arizona won 20 or games... Further, it was the 14th time in Lute Olson's 16 years as UA head coach that the Cats have reached the 20-win plateau... It marked the 21st time in Olson's career that he has directed a team to 20 or more victories, making him just the eighth head coach in NCAA history to reach 20 wins in 21 or more seasons (Dean Smith-30; Jerry Tarkanian-26; Adolph Rupp-23; Bobby Knight-22; Denny Crum-21; Jim Boeheim-21; John Chaney-21).
Home Sweet Home: As previously mentioned, Arizona closed the year with a 32-game home winning streak in tact... The streak includes all 14 home games last season, all 15 in 1997-98 and the final three of the 1996-97 campaign... The last loss was a 66-64 defeat to UCLA on Feb. 13, 1997... Further, Arizona has won 43 of its last 44 home games and is 172-10 in McKale Center since the 1987-88 season... During that time, the Cats have lost just two non-conference games (Arkansas, 1992-93 & Syracuse, 1995-96)... Overall, Arizona has won 18 consecutive non-conference home games... Last year was the ninth season in history that Arizona went undefeated at home.
Some Notes on Last Season: The Wildcats led the Pac-10 in rebounding (41.6 rpg), scoring (82.2 ppg), free throw shooting (.710) and rebounding margin (+8.1 rpg)... The Cats completed its home schedule with a 14-0 mark... It was the ninth time in history the UA has completed its home schedule undefeated... Last year was the first time since 1989-90 that Arizona didn't score 100 points or more in at least one game... Arizona started three freshmen in 22 of its 29 games and used 10 different starting lineups... Only three teams shot 50% or better against the Wildcats -- UCLA (50%), at Cal (51.6%) and at Stanford (54.0%)... Arizona suffered its worst shooting performance of the season against Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Tournament (19-of-57/33%)... One offshoot of the UA's rebounding dominance was the amount of times it went to the free throw line... The Wildcats attempted 252 more free throws than the opposition... The three-point field goal percentage of .350 was the lowest in team history... Arizona's 30 turnovers against Washington State on Jan. 7, were the most for the program since Dec. 4, 1982, when the Ben Lindsey-coached Cats had 36 at New Mexico... The University of Arizona retired Steve Kerr's jersey in a ceremony following the Washington game... He joined Sean Elliott as the only former Wildcats to have their jersey hung from the McKale Center rafters... Arizona has the most wins of any Pac-10 team in the 1990s (257)... That averages out to just under 26 wins a year this decade... Only A.J. Bramlett and Jason Terry started every game for the Wildcats this season... In all, nine players earned a start this season... Dating back to the start of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, Arizona owns a record of 58-12.
Shooting Sets the Tone:Since the 1996-97 season, Arizona is 60-4 in games when it has a better shooting percentage than its opponent... The Wildcats were 19-1 last season, 23-2 the year before and 18-1 in 1996-97 campaign.
80s Preservation Society:In the past three years, the UA is 75-8 when it scores 80 or more points in a game... Further, since the 1992-93 season, Arizona is 137-15 when it scores 80 or more... The Cats were 15-2 in 1998-99, 26-3 in 1997-98 and 19-2 in 1996-97.
The Century Club: The UA has not given up 100 points in regulation since Jan. 27, 1990, at Pittsburgh, a span of 302 games. UA lost that game 100-92.