Nov. 12, 2002
Date: Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2002 Time: 8 p.m. MST Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Nehls) TV: FSNA (Dave Sitton/Bob Elliott)
Game Data: After four weeks of beating up on each other, top-ranked Arizona faces its first true opponent of the season in the EA Sports All-Stars tonight in McKale Center ... The Associated Press released its preseason top 25 yesterday with Arizona on top of the poll, marking the third time in school history that the program will open the season as the nation's No. 1-ranked team ... The Cats have one exhibition game scheduled (Nov. 20) before it opens the regular season against No. 20 Western Kentucky on Nov. 23.
The Rankings: UA opens the 2002-03 campaign as the nation's top-ranked team in the both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. Arizona has opened the season as the nation's No. 1 team in two of the past three years and been ranked in 253 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . begins his 20th season at Arizona and his 30th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 663-235 (.738) and 471-143 (.767) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson recorded his 600th career win and his 400th victory at Arizona during the 2000 campaign and has the fourth most Pac-10 wins (262) 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 19-year tenure at Arizona, the Wildcats have won one national championship (1997), played in the national championship game (2001), participated in four Final Fours (1988, 1994, 1997, 2001), won nine Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, '89, '90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 18 years in a row, which is the longest active and second-longest streak in NCAA history (North Carolina, 27)... 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 Ten Coach of the Year twice (1979 & '81) and directed the UA program to the nation's best winning percentage over the past 15 years (401-97/.805) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 45 NBA Draft picks, including 26 at Arizona - 20 alone since 1990 ... He's led UA to 15 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 24 overall in his career, making him one of only five head coaches in NCAA history to record 24 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 280-29 (.906) in McKale Center and have won 208 of its last 222 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner.
Last Time Out: Behind Jason Gardner's 22 points, the Red defeated the Blue, 105-87, before 8,860 in the annual Pepsi Red-Blue scrimmage Nov. 6. After ending the first half trailing 47-43, the Red team came back in the second to trounce the Blue. Led by senior Jason Gardner, who scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half, the Red team outscored the Blue 62-40 to earn the 18-point win. Gardner led the Red team with 23 points, shooting 8-of-16 from the floor, including 4-of-9 from beyond the arc to go with a game-high 14 assists. Senior forward Rick Anderson also contributed 20 points and a game-high 13 rebounds while shooting 9-of-13 from the field.
Scouting EA Sports All-Stars: The EA Sports All-Stars have a 1-5 record on its current 15-game tour of the western United States. The squad's lone win came in the tour opener, a 92-86 victory at Utah on Nov. 1. The All-Stars are averaging 89.0 points per game on the tour.
Last Meeting: Arizona shot 53.2 percent from the field and placed five players in double figures to earn a 112-96 win over the EA Sports All-Stars Nov. 4, 2001, at McKale Center. The Cats used its quickness and accurate shooting to race to the 16-point win. Arizona connected on 41-of-77 (.532) attempts to stretch the lead to as many as 18 points in the second half. EA Sports never got closer than six points in the game's final 17 minutes. Leading the way for Arizona was freshman center Isaiah Fox, who finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and was 6-of-7 from the floor in 23 minutes. Twelve of his 18 came in the first half, including seven points in the first four minutes, as the Wildcats jumped out to a 10-point lead with just over 13 minutes to play.
Two-for-Three: It's hard to believe that a team can go from preseason No. 1 (2001) to unranked (2002) to preseason No. 1 (2003) in three consecutive seasons, but that is exactly what has happened to the Arizona Wildcats. Incidentally, the Wildcats have now occupied the top spot in the coaches poll in 16 polling periods since the 1987-88 season. The Cats will open the regular season with the No. 1 ranking in both major polls for the third time in school history (1997-98 and 2000-01).
Tops in the Pac-10, too: The Wildcats were a unanimous favorite to win the 2002-03 Pacific-10 Conference championship, according to the league's preseason poll of media. Arizona received all 27 first place votes and 270 points to top the poll. Oregon (237), UCLA (195), Arizona State (160) and California (154) rounded out the top five places. It is the eighth time since 1989-90 that Arizona has been the predicted winner in the preseason poll.
What's Returning: As mentioned above, Arizona returns 10 letterwinners from last season's 24-10 squad. The Wildcats return 98.4 percent of the minutes played, 98.4 percent of the rebounds and 99.0 percent of the points scored. The last time the returning numbers were that good came in the 2000-01 campaign.
Preseason Accolades: The senior combination of Luke Walton and Jason Gardner have wrapped up a few preseason accolades. In addition to both being included on the Naismith and Wooden preseason player-of-the-year award watch lists, they have each earned preseason player-of the-year kudos. Gardner was selected the preseason player of the year by the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, while Walton earned similar honors from collegeinsider.com. In position breakdowns by Lindy's Preseason Yearbook, Gardner was selected the best point guard in the nation, Walton the No. 2-ranked small forward and sophomore Channing Frye the No. 5-ranked center.
Not a Bad Debut: Nine UA players scored in double figures during last week's Pepsi Red-Blue Game, as the team's combined for 192 points. As is the case with any scrimmage, if one team looks good, it's at the expense of a teammate, but the victorious Red squad shot 58.6 percent from the floor (41-of-70) and a +13 assist:turnover ratio, while the Blue grabbed 21 offensive rebounds in posting a 44-30 rebound edge.
A Quick Look at the Numbers: In addition to Gardner's 22-point, 14-assist effort last Wednesday, several performances jump off the stat sheet. The forward combination of Rick Anderson and Andre Iguodala combined to hit 18-of-25 shots en route to 43 points and 18 rebounds. Chris Rodgers tallied 21 points, three assists and a steal, while fellow freshman Hassan Adams scored 22 points and grabbed five boards. Isaiah Fox collected a double-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks.
Talent Pool: With the 2002-03 NBA season just underway, no fewer than 10 former Wildcats are on NBA active rosters. Only two schools in the country (North Carolina 14; Kentucky 11) have more of its alumni on active rosters. Here is the list of Arizona players currently playing in the NBA: Gilbert Arenas (G/Golden State/2nd year), Mike Bibby (G/Sacramento/5th year), Michael Dickerson (G/Memphis/5th year), Richard Jefferson (F/New Jersey/2nd year), Steve Kerr (G/San Antonio/15th year), Chris Mills (F/Golden State/10th year), Sean Rooks (C/Los Angeles Clippers/11th year), Damon Stoudamire (G/Portland/8th year), Jason Terry (G/Atlanta/4th year), and Loren Woods (C/Minnesota/2nd year).
In the Booth: Two former Wildcats also figure prominently in ESPN's coverage of the NBA, as Sean Elliott and Tom Tolbert boast analyst positions following long and successful playing careers.
Up Next: The exhibition season comes to a close, as Arizona hosts Team Nike in McKale Center on Nov. 20. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MST. The game will not be televised.