Date: Monday, Nov. 20, 2000
Time: 9 a.m. HST
Location: Lahaina Civic Center (2,400), Lahaina, Hawaii
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: ESPN (Dan Shulman/Bill Raftery)
Game Data: The top-ranked Arizona Wildcats open its 97th season of basketball against a stellar field at the Maui Invitational, as all seven mainland teams participated in last year's NCAA Tournament ... This is Arizona's third appearance in the Maui Invitational (1993, 1997) with the team earning runner-up honors both times ... Overall it is the team's seventh in-season tournament appearance in Hawaii (11-5 in six previous trips) ... The Cats have won five straight season openers under Lute Olson.
The Rankings: UA carries the nation's No. 1 ranking into the contest, as the Cats are on top of the current Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today Preseason Top 25 Coaches' Poll, which was released Nov. 2. Arizona is also the top-ranked team in six other preseason basketball polls (Sports Illustrated, ESPN.com, Street & Smith's, Lindy's, CBS/Sportsline, Athlon Sports). Three other schools in the tournament are ranked in the current AP top 25: No. 6 Maryland, No. 8 Illinois and No. 13 Connecticut.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . begins his 18th season at Arizona and his 28th overall as a head coach with a career record of 614-219 (.737) and 422-127 (.769)... He recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona last year and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins in history, trailing UCLA's John Wooden (304, 1949-75), Oregon State's Slats Gill (276, 1929-64) and Washington's Hec Edmundson (266, 1921-47)... He has the second-best conference winning percentage in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only Wooden (.810/304-74) ... During his 17-year tenure at Arizona, the Wildcats have won one national championship (1997), gone to three Final Fours (1988, 1994, 1997), won nine Pac-10 Conference titles and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 16 years in a row, which is the second-longest streak in NCAA history (North Carolina, 26)... He also led Iowa to the 1980 Final Four... Olson has been named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year six times (1986, 88, 89, 93, 94, 98), the Big-10 Coach of the Year twice (1979 & 81) and directed the UA program to the nation's best winning percentage over the past 13 years... In his collegiate career, he has produced 35 NBA Draft picks, including 20 at Arizona 15 alone on the 1990s... He has led Arizona to 13 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 22 overall in his career, making him one of only six head coaches in NCAA history to record 22 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 259-26 (.909) in McKale Center and have won 187 of their last 198 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention, Jay John and undergraduate assistant Josh Pastner.
Last Time Out: Richard Jefferson scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the first half as Arizona jumped out to a 18-point halftime lead and coasted to a 90-77 win. Jefferson hit 11-of-17 shots from the floor to lead a Wildcat squad that shot 60 percent in the first half and 57.4 percent for the game. Also shooting well for UA were seniors Loren Woods and Lamont Frazier, who each went 7-for-7 from the floor and finished with 17 and 14 points respectively. Eugene Edgerson (9 reb.), Luke Walton (8 reb.) and Michael Wright (7 reb.) helped the Cats claim a 43-34 edge on the glass.
Scouting Chaminade: The Silververswords return two starters from last season's 13-13 ballclub that finished 4th in the Pacific Division of the Pacific West Conference. Chaminade won both preseason exhibitions (82-61 vs. Yonsei University of Korea and 76-74 vs. Northwest All-Stars) and exhibited solid defense in holding both opponents to less than 40 percent shooting and amassing a +17.5 rebound margin. Individually, the squad was led by Drew Robinson, who averaged 16.5 points in the two exhibitions.
vs. the Field: While Monday's opener is the first-ever meeting with Chaminade, UA has a cumulative 11-17 (.407) record against the rest of the field. The Cats are 0-1 vs. Connecticut, 1-1 vs. Dayton, 3-4 vs. Illinois, 1-2 vs. Louisville, 2-0 vs. Maryland and 4-9 vs. UNLV. Arizona also faces Connecticut (Dec. 9) and Illinois (Dec. 16) later this year.
Maui Invitational History: In two previous appearances in the Maui Invitational, Arizona has a cumulative 4-2 record with two runner-up finished. Here is a quick look at the Cats' tournament history:
Dec. 21 UA 98, Notre Dame 79
Dec. 22 UA 70, Boston College 65
Dec. 23 Kentucky 93, UA 92
Nov. 24 UA 99, Boston College 69
Nov. 25 UA 89, Kentucky 74
Nov. 26 Duke 95, UA 87
The Last Time...Arizona opened the season as the top-ranked team in both major polls came during the 1997-98 season. That squad opened the year with three straight wins before dropping the Maui Invitational championship game to Duke (listed above). The 97-98 Wildcats won the Pac-10 championship and finished with a 30-5 record.
For Openers: Since 1913-14, Arizona has a record of 67-20 (.770) in season openers, including a 14-3 (.824) mark under Lute Olson. The Wildcats are 51-12 at home, 10-8 on the road and 6-0 in neutral-site games.
Call Them Favorites: In the Pac-10 Conference's annual poll of media members, the Arizona Wildcats were a unanimous choice to finish first in the 2000-01 men's basketball race (see poll at left). Arizona received all 29 first place votes and 290 points overall to finish ahead of runner-up Stanford. In the last 11 years, the preseason winner of the poll has won or shared the actual league title nine times. UA has been the preseason favorite six other times.
Double-Doubles: In research done by Stats, Inc., Arizona junior Michael Wright ranks in the top 10 nationally in career double-doubles among active college players. Wright's 25 double-doubles rank seventh. Here is the top 10: 1. Kennedy Okafor, UMBC, 33; 2. Troy Murphy, Notre Dame, 32; 3. Isaac Spencer, Murray State, 28; 3. Kaspars Kambala, UNLV, 28; 5. Ricardo Greer, Pittsburgh, 27; 5. Jeryl Sasser, SMU, 27; 7. Michael Wright, Arizona, 25; 8. Mike Kouser, Drexel, 23; 9. Darren Fenn, Canisus, 22; 9. George Evans, George Mason, 22.
On Target: In two preseason games, Arizona has connected on 78-of-141 (.553) of its field goal attempts. In games where UA shot 50 percent or better from the floor last year, the Cats were 9-1. Incidentally, the team's first-half shooting numbers this preseason are even better, as the Wildcats have blistered the nets with a .574 field goal percentage (39-of-68) in the first 20 minutes.
Welcome Contributions: A continued bright spot in the preseason has been the play of senior Lamont Frazier. He hit all seven FG attempts in the win over Marathon and added three assists. He's averaging 10.0 points in the preseason, and if you count the Red/Blue Game, Frazier has 14 assists and just three turnovers in 69 minutes.
Eliminating Doubts: If there was any lingering doubts about Loren Woods' productivity after back surgery last spring, the senior has eliminated most of those in the preseason. In the last two games, Woods logged 43 minutes, hit all 11 field goal attempts, grabbed nine boards, passed out six assists, added three blocks and scored 28 points. He also played all 40 minutes in the Red/Blue Game, scoring 16 points.
From Deep: Sophomore Gilbert Arenas has been very good early on from very long range. Arenas has connected on 7-of-11 (.636) of his attempts from behind the arc in the preseason. He also added three assists, two steals and no turnovers vs. EA Sports.
Just Gene: Senior Eugene Edgerson put forth another energetic performance in Friday's win over Marathon, as the New Orleans native tallied nine points and a team-high nine rebounds. In three preseason outings, Edgerson has totaled 38 points and 26 rebounds.
Always Around the Action: Make no mistake, Luke Walton does a great job of filling up a boxscore. Twelve days after totaling a team-high 16 points (on 7-of-8 FGs), eight rebounds and three assists, Walton collected eight boards and a game-high six assists vs. Marathon. He has just one turnover in 20 minutes last Friday after earning a starting nod.
Remarkably Consistent: In playing his way to national Freshman-of-the-Year honors last year, Jason Gardner averaged 4.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. In the team's two exhibition warm-ups, Gardner has averaged 4.5 assists and 4.0 boards.
A Welcome Sight: One thing that has been good to see to date has been the accuracy of Richard Jefferson. The junior forward has connected on 16-of-26 (.615) of his field goal attempts in the preseason. Included in that effort was his 11-for-17, 24-point performance vs. Marathon.
Yeoman-Like Effort: The way in which Michael Wright goes about his business isn't flashy, but it is productive. In two preseason tilts, Wright has scored 27 points, hit 11-of-18 (.611) FG attempts and grabbed 14 rebounds. His workman-like effort is just one of the reasons why no other Arizona player has made as many as his 59 starts over the last two seasons (63 games).
On the Glass: Arizona has a +9.5 rebound margin in its two exhibitions with the majority of that coming on the defensive end. The Wildcats have completely owned the defensive glass, posting a +14 defensive rebound margin.
Balanced Attack: In the 38-point win over EA Sports, the Arizona starters displayed the kind of balance coaches dream about. All five players finished in double figures and the quintet of Michael Wright, Richard Jefferson, Loren Woods, Gilbert Arenas and Jason Gardner combined to hit 20-of-41 shots from the field, four treys, 12-of-15 from the line, grab 20 rebounds and pass out 16 assists.
What's Returning in 2000-01: The Arizona roster is once again loaded this season... The only player lost from 1999-00 is Josh Pastner (and he's on the bench as an undergraduate assistant)... In all, Arizona returns 99.3% of its scoring from this past season players who accounted for 2,582 of the team's 2,599 points and 99.7% of the rebounding from this past year 891 of the 894 boards... The 2000-01 roster includes players who have combined to play in 582 games in their collegiate careers and start 265 times.
1999-2000 In Review: Arizona concluded the 1999-2000 basketball season with an overall record of 27-7 and was crowned co-champions of the Pacific-10 Conference after recording a 15-3 league mark. It was the program's ninth Pac-10 title and 13th consecutive season with 20 or more wins. The Wildcats made their 16th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament (second longest streak in NCAA history) where they were the No. 1 seed in the West Region before losing to eventual Final Four participant, Wisconsin, in the second round. Individually, three players were named to the All-Pac-10 Conference first team Michael Wright, Loren Woods and Jason Gardner, who was named the National Freshman of the Year by two outlets. Gilbert Arenas joined Gardner on the All-Pac-10 Freshman Team, and Woods was named the Pac-10's Newcomer of the Year.
NBA Update: With the NBA season underway, here is a list of former Wildcats currently on active rosters in the National Basketball Association: Mike Bibby (Vancouver), Jud Buechler (Detroit), Michael Dickerson (Vancouver), Sean Elliott (San Antonio), Steve Kerr (San Antonio), Chris Mills (Golden State), Sean Rooks (Los Angeles Clippers), Damon Stoudamire (Portland) and Jason Terry (Atlanta).
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed five players to National Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period: Wil Bynum (5-10, 170, G, Chicago, Ill./Crane Tech Prep), Channing Frye (6-10, 230, C, Phoenix, Ariz./St. Mary's H.S.), Isaiah Fox (6-9, 255, C, Santa Monica, Calif./Crossroads H.S.), Dennis Latimore (6-8, 230, F, Halsted, Kan./Halsted H.S.) and Salim Stoudamire (6-2, 175, G, Lake Oswego, Ore./Lake Oswego H.S.).
Up Next: Pending first-round results, Arizona will play either Dayton or Connecticut in the Maui Invitational semifinals or consolation round. Game time is scheduled for either 9 a.m. or 4:30 p.m. HST.