Nov. 5, 2008
Date: Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008 Time: 7 p.m. MST Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: FSAZ (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
GAME DATA: Arizona (0-0, 0-0 Pac-10) opens the exhibition portion of the 2008-09 schedule by hosting the University of the Incarnate Word (0-0) Thursday in McKale Center ... Incarnate Word is an NCAA Division II school located in San Antonio, Texas ... UIW is the fourth-largest private school in Texas ... Dating back three seasons, this is Arizona's first exhibition game against a school from Texas after facing two Canadian institutions and one from California ... UA's final exhibition game will be Wednesday, Nov. 12, vs. Sonoma State.
THE RANKINGS: Arizona is unranked in both polls to start the season for the first time since the 2001-02 season and just the second time since the start of the 1987-88 campaign. The Wildcats are receiving votes in both polls: 11 (T41st) in the Associated Press Top 25 and 18 (34th) in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches' Poll.
ARIZONA INTERIM HEAD COACH Russ Pennell . . . will begin his first season at Arizona and his first overall as a college head coach on Nov. 17 ... He assumed the interim coaching responsibilities on Oct. 24 in the wake of Lute Olson's retirement a day earlier ... Pennell returned to college basketball on May 5, 2008, when he joined the Wildcat staff, ending a two-year stint as the head of the Arizona Premier League in the Phoenix area ... He also provided color commentary for the Arizona State University radio network during the 2007-08 season ... Most recently, Pennell served as an assistant coach for Arizona State for eight seasons from 1998-2006 ... While working for the Sun Devils under coach Rob Evans, the program amassed a 119-120 (.498) record that included one NCAA Tournament berth (2003) and three trips to the N.I.T. ... Prior to his tenure in Tempe, Ariz., Pennell served on Evans' staff at the University of Mississippi for six seasons (1992-98), where the Rebels went 86-81 (.515) and made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 1997 and 1998 ... In those two seasons, Mississippi won the Southeastern Conference West Division championship and won at least 20 games ... It was the first time the program had posted consecutive 20-win seasons in 60 years ... Pennell began his coaching career at Oklahoma State University from 1990-92, helping the Cowboys to a 52-16 (.765) record under coach Eddie Sutton ... During the 1990-91 campaign, the Cowboys shared the Big Eight Conference championship with a 24-8 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament ... The following year, OSU posted a 28-8 record, and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. The Cowboys advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 in both of Pennell's seasons in Stillwater ... Pennell, 47, earned a degree in physical education from Pittsburg State University in 1989 and received his master's in P.E. from PSU in 1990 ... He is assisted by Mike Dunlap and Reggie Geary.
LAST TIME OUT: Arizona's season came to a close courtesy of a 75-65 loss to West Virginia. Three-point shooting ultimately proved to be the difference in the contest, as the Mountaineers connected on 11-of-19 (.579) and outscored the Cats, 33-18, from behind the arc. WVU's Darris Nichols and Alex Ruoff combined to knock down 9-of-14 attempts to thwart every UA run. Chase Budinger led all scorers with 23 points and Jordan Hill notched a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. It was Arizona's 24th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
SCOUTING INCARNATE WORD: Coached by Ken Burmeister, the Cardinals return five lettermen from last season's 17-11 club that is picked second in the 2008-09 Heartland Conference preseason poll. UIW returns four of its top six scorers from a year ago, including junior guard Pierce Caldwell, a 2008 d2basketball.com honorable mention All-America who averaged 18.5 points per game last year and senior guard Eric Nuncio, who averaged 12.8 ppg. The Cardinals out shot (.465-.433), outrebounded (+3.1) and outscored (+4.7) the opposition. Look for a balanced attack from UIW, as its top eight players averaged 7.1 points or better per game last year.
HELLO OLD FRIEND: Former UA assistant coach Ken Burmeister returns to the Old Pueblo as the Incarnate Word head coach. Burmeister was an Arizona assistant during Lute Olson's first three seasons in Tucson (1983-86), where the Cats amassed a 55-36 (.604) record, two 20-win seasons, two NCAA Tournament appearances and the school's first Pac-10 Championship (1986). All told, Burmeister was a part of Olson's staff for seven years, as he also served at Iowa from 1979-83. Burmeister, who carries a 163-146 (.528) record as a college head coach, has previously coached at Texas-San Antonio, Loyola, Ill., and Trinity before taking the UIW job in 2006.
ON TARGET: When looking at the entire boxscore from Saturday's Red-Blue Game, the two squads combined to hit a respectable 30-of-67 (.448) attempts from the field. What might stand out the most was the accuracy of the largely untested Red team. It shot 50 percent from the floor (15-of-30), including 5-of-10 from three-point range.
HELPING OUT: Coach Pennell has mentioned often the need to play together. A certain amount of that was on display Saturday, as assists were credited on 22 of the 30 total field goals. Additionally, two freshman guards - Garland Judkins and Brendon Lavender - tied for game-high honors with six assists apiece.
A GOOD START: As mentioned above, Judkins collected a game-high six assists in the Red-Blue game, but he posted a complete stat line in the process. The 6-foot-3 native of Humble, Texas, knocked down 4-of-7 field goal attempts and all eight free throws to go with six boards to finish with 16 points. Kyle Fogg performed in a similar vein, hitting 3-of-4 shots from the floor, including two treys, and adding four rebounds, two assists and two steals in the 11-point effort.
40 PERCENT: As expected, junior Chase Budinger led all scorers with 17 points in the Red-Blue Game. Following the contest, UA interim head coach Russ Pennell mentioned that it was reasonable for Budinger to take 40 percent of UA's field goal attempts this season. The 6-foot-7 forward was right on target, as his 15 attempts were 40.5 percent of the Blue teams' total. The 40 percent goal will be a marked increase for Budinger, as he took just 26 percent (457-of-1,765) of UA's shots last season.
DOING HIS JOB: For as long as he has been at Arizona, Zane Johnson has been known as a long-range shooter. He lived up to the billing in the Red-Blue Game, connecting on 4-of-8 field goals en route to 12 points. The 6-foot-5, Phoenix, Ariz., native hit three of his seven attempts from behind the arc, which led all players.
A GOOD EFFORT: Tucson native D.J. Shumpert put forth a nice effort in his McKale Center debut, grabbing a game-high seven rebounds (three offensive) and collecting two steals, a block and an assist.
PRESEASON ACCOLADES: Chase Budinger garnered preseason All-America honors from a pair of college basketball websites. He was named to the collegeinsider.com 2008-09 preseason honor roll and was a third-team preseason All-American according to collegehoops.net. Budinger averaged 17.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game as a sophomore last season.
IN THE MIDDLE: Arizona's big men showed flashes of good things to come Saturday, as Jordan Hill and Alex Jacobson combined for 18 points and 10 rebounds. Hill, a 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward, connected on 4-of-8 field goals and 6-of-9 free throws en route to 14 points and five rebounds. Jacobson, a 6-foot-10, 253-pound center posted modest totals of four points and five rebounds. Considering the redshirt freshman hasn't played in a full season, his prorated output per 40 minutes would be 6.4 points and 8.0 rebounds is certainly acceptable.
MOVING UP: With the 2008-09 National Basketball Association regular season underway, no fewer than nine former Arizona Wildcats were on the opening day NBA rosters. That figure ranks sixth nationally. Here is the complete list: Hassan Adams, Toronto Raptors; Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards; Jerryd Bayless, Portland TrailBlazers; Mike Bibby, Atlant Hawks; Channing Frye, Portland TrailBlazers; Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers; Richard Jefferson, Milwaukee Bucks; Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks; and Luke Walton, Los Angeles Lakers. There have been at least eight former Wildcats in the NBA in each of the last nine seasons with 10 or more in six of those campaigns.
MORE UA CONNECTIONS TO THE LEAGUE: Arizona's nine former players in the Association helped the Pac-10 Conference tally 46 active NBA players, a figure that ranked third nationally. The Pac-10 was one of only three conferences (Big East and Big 12) to have each member school produce at least one NBA player. Additionally, the Pac-10's average of 4.6 alums per institution was second only to the Atlantic Coast Conference (4.8). Here is a look at the breakdown by conference: 1. Atlantic Coast, 58; 2. Big East, 49; 3. Pac-10, 46; 4. Big 12, 41; 5. Southeastern, 38; 6. Big Ten, 37.
PAC-10 PROGNOSTICATIONS: According to media members who regularly cover the Pacific-10 Conference, Arizona was picked to finish fourth in this season's Pac-10 race. The Wildcats received 241 points (see chart at left), trailing UCLA, Arizona State and USC. It's the second consecutive year in which UA was selected fourth. On a historical note, Arizona has been the preseason favorite 11 times in the last 19 years.
UP NEXT: The Wildcats will host Sonoma State in its final exhibition tune-up for 2008-09. The contest is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 12, and will tip-off at 7 p.m. MST. This game will not be televised.