UA Hosts a Fiesta: After a six day break for Christmas, the Arizona Wildcats (9-2; No. 5 AP; No. 4 USA Today/ESPN) return to action this week and host the 15th annual Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic, Dec. 28 & 30, in McKale Center. Joining the Wildcats will be their first round opponent, UNC-Wilmington (6-2), as well as 1999 NCAA Tournament participant Delaware (8-1) and Alabama (6-4), which played in last year's postseason NIT. The opening night of the tourney (Dec. 28) will see Delaware face Alabama at 5:15 p.m. and Arizona takes on UNC-Wilmington at 7:37 p.m. On Thursday, Dec. 30, the consolation game will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the championship tilt starts at 8 p.m. Both of Arizona's games will be televised statewide on Fox Sports Net Arizona with Dave Sitton doing the play-by-play and Bob Elliott handling the color commentary. Both games can also be heard on radio on the Arizona Wildcat network. Arizona has won this tournament in all 14 previous years, going 28-0 in the event. The Wildcats will be looking to rebound after dropping their final game before the Christmas break, losing 70-68 to New Mexico on Dec. 21 a defeat that snapped the UA's 37-game home court winning streak.
Series History: This will be the first time Arizona and UNC Wilmington have played each other... The Wildcats are 4-0 all-time against teams from UNC-Wilmington's conference the Colonial Athletic Association... This will be third CAC opponent Arizona has played in the Fiesta Bowl Classic first round... The Cats beat James Madison in the first round of back in 1997 (92-68) and also beat Richmond in 1994 (95-68)... Arizona is 0-2 all-time against Alabama... The last meeting was in the 1990 Tournament second round... The Crimson Tide won 77-55 in Long Beach, Calif... The only other meeting was also in the NCAA Tournament, this time on March 15, 1985... Alabama won 50-41... That was the first of Arizona's 15 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, which is an active streak and the second-longest in NCAA history... Arizona and Delaware have never played each other.
UA's Probable Starting Lineup: 1999-00 Stats Ht. Wt. Yr-Exp. PPG RPG APG/BPG/SPG F 21 Michael Wright 6-7 238 So.-1L 13.3 8.5 0.7 apg F 44 Richard Jefferson 6-7 222 So.-1L 13.8 5.3 3.5 apg C 3 Loren Woods 7-1 230 Jr.-TR 13.0 5.5 3.5 bpg G 0 Gilbert Arenas 6-3 191 Fr.-HS 13.0 4.1 2.1 apg G 22 Jason Gardner 5-10 178 Fr.-HS 11.8 3.0 5.5 apgArizona's Last Action: Arizona saw its 37-game home winning streak broken on Dec. 21, when the New Mexico Lobos came in a beat the Wildcats 70-68. In the UA's first loss at McKale Center since Feb. 13, 1997 (UCLA), Arizona had its worst shooting performance of the season (36.4%) to help drop the Cats to 9-2 on the year. It was a back-and-forth game throughout, but Arizona appeared to have things in control when it went up 58-51 with 6:21 left in the game. However, UNM came back to tie it up at 60-60 moments later. From there, six lead changes are four ties ensued and New Mexico used a Rolan Hannah put back with 1.5 seconds left to win the game. Arizona did attempt a full court pass after a timeout, but a Jason Gardner shot a buzzer was off the left side of the rim, giving the Lobos a victory. Arizona's top scorer was Richard Jefferson, who had 17 to go with five rebounds. Loren Woods scored 16 points and had seven blocked shots for the second game in a row and third time this season. Two other players scored in double figures Gilbert Arenas with 14 and Jason Gardner (10).
Tickets Available: There are still tickets available for both nights of the Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic, Dec. 28 and 30... They are tickets that were returned to the UA by the Fiesta Bowl Committee... Tickets can be purchased at the McKale Center ticket office or by calling 520-621-2287.
Fiesta Bowl Classic History: The Wildcats are 28-0 all-time in the 14 years of the Fiesta Bowl Classic and have captured all 14 tournament championships... Arizona has won its last six tournament games by an average margin of 101-63, outscoring the opposition 608-376... Past all-tournament teams have included current NBA players like Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott, Danny Ferry, Vernon Maxwell, Sean Rooks, Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Chris Mills, Damon Stoudamire, Juwan Howard, Michael Dickerson, Jason Terry and Michael Jordan (well, not that Michael Jordan -- Pennsylvania's M.J.)... The most points scored in the Classic were the 125 that the UA scored against Kansas State in last year's championship game... Arizona won 125-87.
Pretty Good Success: Dating back to the first round loss of the 1986 Big Apple NIT, Arizona has won 66 of its last 72 games that have been played as part of an in-season tournament or one-game special event (i.e. Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic, Las Vegas Shootout, Preseason NIT, Maui Invitational, Great Eight Classic, Las Vegas Showdown, Great Alaska Shootout, Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic, etc., etc.)... This season, Arizona was 4-0 in the Preseason NIT, lost its game against Connecticut at the Great Eight and beat Nebraska in the Las Vegas Showdown.
A New Breed of Cats: With Kentucky not being included in the Associated Press Top-25 rankings three weeks ago for the first time in nine years, Arizona now has the second longest current streak of appearing in the AP's weekly poll (79 weeks, counting this week's poll)...This streak dates back to the first regular season poll of the 1995-96 season... Arizona was not ranked in that year's preseason poll... That was the only time since the 1987-88 preseason poll that Arizona was not ranked in the AP poll.. Overall, Arizona has been ranked in the regular season Top-25 rankings for 206 straight weeks... North Carolina extended the nation's No. 1 streak of being ranked in the AP poll to 169 consecutive weeks and that is the third-longest streak in history.
UNC Wilmington Notes: Making their first appearance in Arizona's Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic, the Seahawks enter with an 6-2 record... They are coming off a 80-53 loss at eighth-ranked Florida on Dec. 23... The other loss was in the season opener at Wisconsin-Green Bay (46-38)... The games in Tucson will be the fourth and fifth in a row on the road for UNCW... It hasn't played at home since Dec. 2 -- a 68-50 win over Pac-10 member Washington... Brett Blizzard, a 6-foot-3 freshman guard, is the team's top scorer, averaging 14.9 ppg... He is shooting 54% from the three-point line (27-of-50)... The top rebounder is 6-foot-8 senior forward Victor Ebong, who pulls down 6.3 rpg... The head coach is Jerry Wainwright, who has compiled a record of 82-71 in six years as a head coach, all of which has been spent at UNC Wilmington... The Seahawks are a member of the Colonial Athletic Association and finished 11-17 overall last year... They were 10-8 in conference play, finishing fourth.
Lute Olson is within reach of a pair of coaching milestones... He is four wins away for career win No. 600 and recently achieved win No. 400 at Arizona... Here is a look at his milestone career victories:
Win Date Team Opponent Score 1 12-1-73 LBSU Puget Sound 84-55 100 2-3-79 Iowa Minnesota 97-71 200 2-25-84 Arizona Oregon St. 69-58 300 3-27-88 Arizona North Carolina 70-52 400 2-13-93 Arizona Washington St. 94-72 500 2-11-96 Arizona Cincinnati 79-76Coach O: Lute Olson (Augsburg '56) is his 17th season as the head coach at Arizona and his 27th overall as a head coach... This season will see him reach even more milestones in what has become a Hall of Fame type coaching career... He has a career record of 596-214 (.736), while his mark in Tucson stands at 404-122 (.768)... He needs just four 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 the win over BYU this season, he reached 400 victories for his Arizona career (these numbers may differ from what the NCAA coaching totals list, because as opposed to the Pac-10 Conference, the NCAA does not count forfeits as wins on head coaching records, as the case is with two UA losses to Cal in 1995 and 1996, which were later changed to wins... the same holds true with a game when Olson was at Iowa, when there was a forfeit by Wisconsin in 1983 that changed a loss into a win)... He has never faced UNC Wilmington, is 0-2 versus Alabama and is 0-0 against Delaware... The season's opener against Kansas State was the 800th of his collegiate Division IA career... For his entire coaching career, including 11 years in high school (180-76 from 1956-69) and two in the junior college ranks (Long Beach City College, 104-20), he has coached in 1,190 games... During his 17-year tenure at Arizona, the Wildcats have won one national championship (1997), gone to three Final Fours (1988, 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 also led Iowa to the 1980 Final Four... He 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 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... He has the second-best conference winning percentage in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only John Wooden (.810/304-74)... Prior to coming to Arizona, he was at Iowa for nine years where he owned a 168-90 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 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... Under Olson, the Cats are 248-26 (.905) in McKale Center and have won 177 of their last 187 home games.
The UA's record of 329-76 over the course of the past 12 years gives it the nation's best winning percentage during that span (.812).
McKale Magic: When New Mexico beat Arizona last week in McKale Center, it snapped what was the nation's fourth-longest active home winning streak... The Wildcats had won 37 consecutive home games, trailing only Murray State (46), Utah (41) and Duke (40)... And up until then, only four players on this year's team had ever experienced a loss in McKale Center (Justin Wessel, Josh Pastner, John Ash & Eugene Edgerson -- those four were on teams that were 47-1 at home)... Prior to the New Mexico game, the last loss for the UA in McKale Center was a 66-64 defeat to UCLA on Feb. 13, 1997... Arizona has now won 48 of its last 50 home games and is 177-11 in McKale Center since the 1987-88 season... During that time, the Cats have lost three non-conference games (New Mexico - Dec. 21, 1999; Syracuse - Dec. 23, 1995; Arkansas - Dec. 6, 1992)... The New Mexico loss also snapped a 23 game home winning streak against consecutive non-conference opponents... Last year was the ninth season in history that Arizona went undefeated at home... Arizona owns an all-time record of 341-65 (.840) in McKale Center... This is the 12th season Arizona basketball has been sold out in McKale Center on a season-ticket basis... Only 10 pairs of mid-level tickets and 20 pairs of upper level tickets were not renewed for this year.
Pac-10 Team of the Decade???: Arizona has the most wins of any Pac-10 team in the 1990s (265), has won five Pac-10 Conference crowns and tied for one other... UCLA is second with four Pac-10 conference titles this decade... For conference games only, Arizona's record of 140-40 is the best in the league, with UCLA at No. 2 with a 134-47 mark... The Cats have been to the NCAA Tournament each year this decade and won it all in 1997... There have been 18 All-Pac-10 first team selections from Arizona, four Pac-10 Players of the Year and two Pac-10 Freshmen of the Year... Arizona has 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 All-Americans in the 1990s.
Cat Scratches: Arizona has not lost consecutive non-conference games in the same season since 1989-90 (at UNLV/at Duke)... Since 1991-92, the Wildcats have now dropped eight of their last nine games that have been the team's final contest before Christmas... Last season's 75-61 win over Iowa State on Dec. 19 stopped a seven game slide, but the loss to New Mexico continued to pre-break blahs... This week marks the 70th time that Arizona has been ranked in the top-five by the Associated Press... Of Jason Gardner's 38 field goals this season, 26 are from three-point land... He is on pace to attempt 180 three-point field goals this season -- Damon Stoudamire has the single-season record of 265 3PT FGA's... Arizona started the season ranked ninth in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN polls... Of Arizona's five starters, you have two sophomores (Wright/Jefferson) who have combined for 75 career games, two true freshmen (Gardner/Arenas) and a junior who had never played for the Cats until this season (Woods)... After winning the Preseason NIT earlier this season, Arizona joins Kansas as the only three-time winners of the event, winning it in 1999, 1995 and 1990... All five UA starters have a double-figure scoring average -- the last time the Cats had all five in double figures after 11 games was in the 1995-96 season (Miles Simon, Joseph Blair, Ben Davis, Michael Dickerson, Reggie Geary)... Since the start of the 1997 NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats have won 67 of 83 games... The Cats have outscored their 10 opponents so far by +13.9 ppg and are limiting the opposition to 63.5 ppg... Dating back to the start of the 1997-98 season, Arizona has been ranked in the top-10 in 38 of the last 44 AP polling periods... Arizona is 34-0 when senior Josh Pastner plays, hence the term "A Pastner Game" applies whenever the Wildcats win big... The Cats are 3-1 versus ranked opponents this season, beating No.5 Michigan State, No. 9 Texas, No. 11 Kentucky and losing to No. 6 Connecticut.
Looking Ahead: Following the Bank One Fiesta Bowl Classic, Arizona kicks off the Pac-10 Conference schedule by traveling to the Bay Area to face California on Thursday, Jan. 6, (7:30 p.m. PST) and Stanford on Saturday, Jan. 8 (3 p.m. PST).
Injury Update: Justin Wessel sustained a "Grade 2" concussion against Nebraska on Dec. 18 after taking an elbow to the face, and was held out of the New Mexico game as a result... He will be ready to go this week.
For Starters: Lute Olson has gone with the same starting lineup in nine of the 11 games this season... Against Michigan State, an adjustment was made at the center spot, as Justin Wessel started for Loren Woods... Woods was late to the game because of a traffic accident he was in while on the way to McKale Center... He finally got to the arena in the early goings of the first half and checked into the lineup at the 14:17 mark after warming up on a stationary bike... He made his first field goal attempt 24 seconds later... Gilbert Arenas was the other normal starter who did not start against MSU, as a result of him being late to a scheduled treatment session with basketball athletic trainer Ed Orr... Rick Anderson started in his place and Richard Jefferson started at the two-guard... Against IUPUI, Anderson again started for Arenas and Jefferson went at the two-guard.
Roster Changes: Junior transfer Luke Recker has transferred to Iowa he had come to the UA from Indiana prior to this season, but returned to the Midwest to be closer to his family and girlfriend (Kelly Craig, who was injured in a July car crash... Of the transfer, he said, "After what happened this summer, I feel I need to be closer to my family, Kelly and Jason (Craig) and their family, and many other important people in my life. I have been nothing but extremely impressed with coach Lute Olson and the Arizona program and I will miss them greatly. First and foremost I would like to thank coach Olson and the Arizona basketball family for what they have done for me. They have been very supportive and helpful through the toughest time of my life. I care greatly for coach Olson, Mrs. Olson, the assistant coaches, the players and everyone involved in this tremendous program. But being close to my loved ones has become a priority at this time. I have been contemplating this decision since my arrival in Tucson. This decision is based solely on personal reasons."... In addition, Wildcat sophomore guard Ruben Douglas was granted his request for a release from his scholarship at the University of Arizona by the UA coaching staff on Nov. 14... Lamont Frazier has missed the past four games to take care of academic responsibilities and the UA will look to redshirt him this season.
Road Warriors: So far this season, Arizona has played in five different cities and four separate time zones while logging 8,842 travel miles... Further, the team has been through eight different airports and on 14 different plane flights... One example of the hectic schedule went like this: after the Texas game on Dec. 4, the Wildcats, following a 6:30 a.m. wake-up call, returned to Tucson from Austin on Sunday around noon and practiced at 1 p.m... The players then attended classes on Monday, practiced afterwards at 1:30 p.m. and then had a 3:55 p.m flight for Chicago via Denver... They arrived in Chicago around 10 p.m and checked into the hotel around 11 p.m... The team then left Chicago the morning after the UConn game after a 6:15 a.m. wake-up call... After a two-hour layover in Denver, everyone arrived back in Tucson around 2 p.m. on Wednesday... And, oh yeah, finals began last Friday, the day before the Michigan State game, and then the IUPUI followed on Monday.
Captains Elected: Senior Josh Pastner and junior Loren Woods were selected captains for this year's team in voting that was done by their teammates.
Block Party: Junior center Loren Woods is providing the UA basketball program with a luxury it has been without for the past few years a legitimate shot blocker... With 39 blocks already this season (3.5 bpg), he already has two more than last year's top UA shot blocker -- A.J. Bramlett -- had for the entire season (37)... In fact, Woods has more than half as many for the UA's top shot blockers in each of the past 10 seasons... For a lowdown of the shot blockers in UA history, consult page 85 in the Arizona basketball media guide... The Arizona individual record for blocks in a season is 84, set by Anthony Cook in 1988-89, and Woods is well ahead of that pace (he is on track for 112 swats)... He has tied the UA record for blocks in a game three times this season, blocking seven shots against Notre Dame, Nebraska and New Mexico (Cook had seven blocks in 1987 against UTEP)... Also, Richard Jefferson's 14 blocks this season is already three more than his entire total for the 1998-99 campaign... Last year, the Wildcats accounted for 93 blocks on the season and this year, they already have 71.
And Make It A Double: All-American candidate Michael Wright has started the year with six double-doubles in the first 11 games, bringing his career double-double total to 18... The sophomore power forward has 18 double-doubles in just 40 career games... On the season, he is averaging 13.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg and is shooting 59.1% from the floor... He has started 35 consecutive games for the Cats dating back to last season... Wright was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week back on Dec. 6 after averaging 17.5 ppg and 11.5 rpg in wins over Brigham Young and Texas... His 35 rebounds through the first three games of the Preseason NIT were three shy of the three-game tournament record of 38, set by Gary Trent (Miami of Ohio).. His rebounding average of 8.8 rpg last season was the best ever for a freshman in the Pac-10 Conference.
Michael Wright's Career Double-Doubles (18 in 40 career games) Arizona's record in these games is 12-6
Date Opponent Points Rebounds 12/14/98 UC-Irvine 15 13 1-2-99 at UCLA 14 10 1/4/99 at USC 11 12 1/14/99 at Arizona State 18 12 1/16/99 at New Mexico 15 17 1/23/99 at Oregon State 13 12 1/30/99 California 15 12 2/4/99 at Washington 19 10 2/13/99 Louisiana State 15 11 2/20/99 Oregon 19 13 3/4/99 USC 22 10 3/12/99 Oklahoma 16 12 11/16/99 Kansas State 11 10 11/19/99 New Mexico State 24 13 11/24/99 Notre Dame 22 11 12/1/99 BYU 19 10 12/4/99 Texas 16 13 12/7/99 Connecticut 14 10Jefferson's Starship: Appearing on a "Plays of the Week" near you, sophomore Richard Jefferson is one of the most athletic players in the country and has had a solid season, while providing more than a fair share of highlight reel dunks and blocks... First on the team in scoring (13.8 ppg) and three-point shooting (.500/12-24), second in field goal percentage (.567) and assists (3.5 apg) and third in rebounding (5.3 rpg), the Phoenix product has scored in double figures in every game but one (Connecticut)... He is finally coming into his own as a wing player after spending his high school career as a back-tothe-basket post player... His season was highlighted by a 19-point, five rebound, four assist outing at Texas, that helped lift Arizona to an 88-81 win over the ninth-ranked Longhorns... All 19 points came in the second half when he was 8-of-10 from the floor.
The Kids are Alright: The freshman guard tandem of Jason Gardner and Gilbert Arenas appear to have acclimated themselves quite well to the college game... Big parts of the UA's 9-2 start, they are combining for 24.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 7.6 apg and 3.9 spg... They are No. 1 & 2 in steals on the team... Gardner leads the team in minutes, averaging 35.0 mpg and Arenas is second at 29.0 mpg... Arenas has been solid from the free throw line, hitting 34-of-39 attempts (87.2%) and Gardner's three-point percentage (.419/26-62) is better than his overall field goal percentage (.396/38-96)... They enjoyed their time in the Madison Square Garden limelight for the Preseason NIT, appearing in their own version of an off-Broadway "CATS" performance... They were both named to the Preseason NIT All-Tournament team, while Arenas was the tourney's MVP... Playing in one of the "World's Most Famous Arenas", Arizona most famous Arenas averaged 17.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.0 apg and 3.5 spg, helping Arizona beat Notre Dame and Kentucky... He went for a game and career-high 20 points in the title game versus UK... As for Gardner, he averaged 9.5 ppg, 4.0 apg, 2.0 spg and only turned the ball over once while playing in 72 of a possible 80 minutes.
Pac-10 Prognostications: The Wildcats were picked to win the 1999-2000 Pac-10 Conference title, according to a poll of media members who regularly cover the league... The poll showed Arizona getting 32 of the possible 36 first-place votes, edging No. 2 UCLA, who received three first place votes and No. 3 Stanford, which garnered one first place vote... Following the top-three were Oregon, Oregon State, California, USC, Arizona State, Washington and Washington State. This poll has correctly picked the Pac-10 Champion for five years in a row and Arizona has now been the preseason No. 1 pick six times since the poll was started back in 1989.
Arizona in 1999-00 Polls/Week-by-WeekTies Count as a Win: With each win by the Arizona basketball team this year, head coach Lute Olson donates the tie he wore in the game to the Tucson YMCA , and in turn they auction off that tie to the public, with all the proceeds going towards their youth programs... So far, his closet is minus nine ties on the season...
Date Record AP USA Today/ESPN Pre. 0-0 #9 #9 11/15 1-0 #10 #9 11/22 2-0 #8 #9 11/29 4-0 #4 #4 12/6 6-0 #2 #2 12/13 7-1 #4 #3 12/20 9-1 #3 #2 12/27 9-2 #5 #4
Counting Classes: The 1999-2000 Arizona basketball roster is relatively young... From top-to-bottom, it is comprised of just two seniors, of which only one will play, due to Eugene Edgerson's redshirt season (Josh Pastner, who has played just 84 minutes in his four year career is the lone "playing" senior)... After that, there are four juniors two of whom had never played in a game for the Cats before the Kansas State season opener (Wake Forest transfer Loren Woods & junior college transfer Lamont Frazier)... Then there are three sophomores, one redshirt freshman and four true freshmen.
Happy Action Graduation Time: If getting your undergraduate degree in just two-and-a-half years was not enough, Arizona senior Josh Pastner has pushed the envelope even further with his most recent scholastic accomplishment... On Dec. 18, he received his master's degree in teaching & teacher education, taking just three-and-a-half years to do so... He walked in the University of Arizona's graduation ceremonies on Saturday morning, and then boarded a plane to Las Vegas to meet up with the team for that night's game against Nebraska... Last year the road trip and graduation day was exactly the same as well, when he received his undergraduate degree in family studies... He walked the morning of Dec. 19, 1998 and then flew to Las Vegas later that day for the Cats' game in the Las Vegas Shootout versus Iowa State... He played eight minutes with one rebound in that win.
Who's Back: Heading the group of two returning starters and seven 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 returning starter from last year is sophomore Richard Jefferson (F, 6-7, 222, Phoenix, Ariz.)... (Ruben Douglas was a third returning starter, but he was granted his request to be released from his scholarship at the UA on Nov. 14). Jefferson was an All-Pac-10 Freshman team performer last season after averaging 11.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 2.9 apg. 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 2.6 minutes per game during his 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 teaching schedule, he will still practice with the team but will miss Wednesday practices during the fall semester.
The (Kind Of) New Faces: There are seven players on this season's roster who had never played in a game for the Wildcats before the season opener, 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 at the end of February.
2000 NCAA West Region First/Second Rounds in McKale Center The University of Arizona will host the first and second rounds of the 2000 NCAA Tournament West Region this March 16 & 18 in McKale Center. Tickets are currently on sale for each of the three sessions and cost $90. Ticket orders can be made at the McKale Center ticket office or by calling 520-621-CATS (2287). Media credential applications will be ready in January. Contact media coordinator Tom Duddleston with any questions (520-621-4163).
The New Guys: The six fresh faces on the team are a talented group... There is one junior college 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 four true freshmen on the squad include McDonald's All-American and starting point guard Jason Gardner (G, 5-10, 178, Indianapolis, Ind.), starting two-guard Gilbert Arenas (G, 6-3, 191, North Hollywood, Calif.), Robertas Javtokas it's pronounced YAHV-toe-kus (C, 6-10, 229, Siauliai, Lithuania) and walk-on Michael Schwertley (F, 6-5, 214, Phoenix, Ariz.).
Where Are You From?: California is the state that can claim the most members of this year's Wildcats, as four players are from "The Golden State " (Rick Anderson, Gilbert Arenas, Lamont Frazier and Luke Walton)... There are three from Arizona (John Ash, Richard Jefferson & Michael Schwertley)... The rest of the roster contains seven 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 three former McDonald's All-Americans Jason Gardner, Richard Jefferson and Loren Woods.
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 year 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... He was drafted in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers... Both Terry and Bramlett were members of four Arizona teams that went 103-28 (55-4 at home), winning a national title (1997), a Pac-10 crown and they were 11-3 in the NCAA Tournament... Jason Stewart was the third senior last year, while freshman guard Traves Wilson transferred in the off-season, and so did Ruben Douglas, who made his decision Nov. 14.
Arizona's NCAA Tournament 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)... Last season 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).
Former Cats in the NBA: This season, there are 10 former Arizona players on NBA rosters... They are Mike Bibby (Vancouver), A.J. Bramlett (Cleveland), Jud Buechler (Detroit), Michael Dickerson (Vancouver), Sean Elliott (San Antonio/injured list), Steve Kerr (San Antonio), Chris Mills (Golden State), Sean Rooks (Dallas), Damon Stoudamire (Portland) and Jason Terry (Atlanta).
Shooting Sets the Tone: Since the 1996-97 season, Arizona is 69-4 in games when it has a better shooting percentage than its opponent... The Wildcats are 9-0 this year, 19-1 last season, 23-2 the year before and 18-1 in 1996-97 campaign.
80s Preservation Society: In the past four years, the UA is 80-8 when it scores 80 or more points in a game... Further, since the 1992-93 season, Arizona is 142-15 when it scores 80 or more... The Cats are 5-0 this year, 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 312 games. UA lost that game 100-92.
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 Basketball On TV This Year: Each of Arizona's 32 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 four times, ESPN2 four times, CBS once, ABC once and on Tucson's KWBA five times.
The Coach's Show: Once again this season, KNST radio will air the Lute Olson Coach's Show, 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 next Lute Olson Show will be Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 6 p.m. and the TV show will be shown Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 10:30 p.m on UPN channel 18 in Tucson.
Prowlin' With the Wildcats: Here's the upcoming broadcast schedule for Fox Sports Net Arizona's bi-weekly magazine show about University of Arizona athletics -- "Prowlin' with the Wildcats"... Fri., Jan. 14, 9 p.m./Sun., Jan. 16, 1 p.m. (replay); Thurs., Jan. 27, 7:30 p.m./Sat., Jan. 29, 3 p.m. (replay).