April 11, 2002
Season Data: A young Arizona (24-10, 12-6 Pac-10) team exceeded nearly everyone's expectations by winning 24 games, capturing the Pac-10 Tournament title, and advancing to the NCAA Tournament's "Sweet 16" ... Several streaks of note that were continued by the 2001-02 Cats include 20 or more wins for the 15th straight season, 18 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, and four consecutive Pac-10 Tournament championships ... Collectively, the Cats tallied 2,793 total points, the seventh-highest figure in school history, and knocked down 258 treys, a figure that ranked third in the UA annals.
The Rankings: Arizona advanced to the NCAA West Regional Semifinals and finished the 2001-02 season ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll. The Cats were unranked in both preseason polls. Arizona has been ranked in 253 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only. It marks the sixth consecutive year in which the Wildcats have finished the season ranked in the top 10 in one or both major college basketball polls.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . finished his 19th season at Arizona and his 29th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 663-235 (.738) and 471-143 (.767) at Arizona ... He 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 35 NBA Draft picks, including 20 at Arizona - 15 alone since 1990 ... A Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame finalist in each of the last two years, Olson has 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 was assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Jay John.
The Success Continues: The Wildcats tallied 24 wins in 2001-02, topping the 20-win plateau for the 15th consecutive season and the 24th in school history. It was also the 24th 20-win season for head coach Lute Olson. The Cats have made 18 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, the longest active streak in the nation, and remain the nation's winningest program over the last 15 seasons (401-97/.805). All-time, Arizona has a 1,410-785 (.642) record in 98 seasons of basketball.
Arizona in the National Rankings: As a team, Arizona ranked in the top 50 nationally in several statistical categories: 6th in scoring offense (82.1), 39th in winning percentage (.706), 45th in three-point field goals per game (7.6), 47th in free throw percentage (.731) and 49th in three-point FG percentage (.376). Individually, Jason Gardner ranked 33rd in scoring (20.4) and 25th in three-point field goals per game (3.1). Luke Walton ranked 18th in assists (6.3), and Salim Stoudamire ranked 13th in three-point FG percentage (.453) and fourth in free throw percentage (.904).
All-America Honors: Jason Gardner and Luke Walton were named to a total of seven All-America teams following the 2001-02 campaign, marking the sixth straight year in which the Cats have had at least one All-American. Gardner earned third team honors from the Associated Press and second team accolades from cnnsi.com and Basketball America, while Walton garnered kudos from the John R. Wooden Award, Basketball Times (3rd), The Sporting News (2nd) and Basketball News (2nd).
Coach Of the Year: UA head coach Lute Olson was also recognized by cnnsi.com, as it selected the Wildcat mentor as its national coach of the year. It is the second consecutive season in which Olson has been nationally recognized. Last year, Olson was named the Clair Bee Coach of the Year and was also honored with the John R. Wooden "Legends of Coaching" award.
Six Sweet 16s: 2002 marks the Wildcats' sixth regional semifinal berth in the last 11 years. Arizona is one of eight schools to have made as many as six Sweet 16 appearances in that span (1992-2002). Each team's best finish is listed below:
1. Kentucky 9 National Champions 1996, 1998 2. Duke 7 National Champions 1992, 2001 Kansas 7 Final Four 1993, 2002 UCLA 7 National Champions 1995 5. Arizona 6 National Champions 1997 Connecticut 6 National Champions 1999 Maryland 6 National Champions 2002 North Carolina 6 National Champions 1993
All-Conference: Four UA players were also recognized by the Pac-10 Conference with postseason honors. Luke Walton and Jason Gardner were named all-conference, while Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye were named to the all-freshman team. Stoudamire was also named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.
Four Straight: It took 12 years to do it, but Arizona captured its fourth consecutive Pac-10 Tournament championship March 9. The Cats won three consecutive (1988-90) in the league's first incarnation of the event prior to this season. All-time, UA has a 12-1 (.923) record in conference tournament play and has won 12 straight games.
M.O.P.: Luke Walton earned Pac-10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors after averaging 22.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists in UA's three tournament wins. In the championship-game win over USC, Walton scored 23 points, grabbed four rebounds and added eight assists in 40 minutes. He was joined on the all-tournament team by Jason Gardner and Salim Stoudamire.
Offensive Balance: It's no secret that the Cats were at its collective best when all five cylinders are firing. This year, Arizona was 7-0 when five or more players finished in double figures. Additionally, Arizona is 39-3 (.929) when scoring at least 90 points since 1997-98, though two of those losses (Kansas/Connecticut) came this season.
On the Run: The 2001-02 Wildcats made a habit of big second-half runs. UA used a 21-8 run to open the second half (covering 6:26) to take control of the NCAA Tournament first-round win over UC-Santa Barbara on March 14. It marked the seventh time in which an Arizona run helped the team out of a second-half deficit:
26 points - 30-4 run over 10:23 vs. California, March 2 25 points - 27-2 run over 6:16 vs. UCLA, Jan. 19 20 points - 35-15 run over 12:22 vs. Oregon State, Jan. 6 19 points - 25-6 run over 8:28 at Texas, Nov. 17 15 points - 19-4 run over 7:00 vs. USC, March 9 13 points - 21-8 run over 6:26 vs. UC-Santa Barbara, March 14 12 points - 24-12 run over 7:16 vs. Kansas, Dec. 1
A Crowd Favorite: Arizona set a school record for average attendance this season, averaging 14,544 fans per game, which broke last season's record of 14,533. Arizona has led the Pac-10 in attendance each season since 1984-85.
Strength of Schedule: Just how tough was Arizona's 2001-02 schedule? Ten of UA's 13 non-conference opponents either won or shared its regular season conference title. Arizona played a total of 12 games against opponents that claimed conference championships (Big 12, Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Big East, Mountain West, West Coast, Big West, Pac-10 and Mid Continent). Eight of those foes advanced to the Sweet 16. Arizona finished this season 10-7 against nationally-ranked opponents.
What Returns in 2003: With the Wildcats losing just one senior, reserve Peter Hansen, the Cats are in the envious position of returning nearly 100 percent of every statistical category (losing Hansen's two points in five minutes played). Arizona is expected to return 100 percent of the team's rebounds (1286 of 1286), and 99.9 percent of the points scored (2791 of 2793 points) and minutes played (6845 of 6850). The last time Arizona returned nearly as much production came prior to the 2000-01 season, when that club returned 99.5 percent of the points, 99.0 percent of the rebounds and 98.9 percent of the minutes played from the 1999-2000 campaign.
A Top-10 Guy: Jason Gardner closed his junior season as the school's career leader in minutes per game (35.6), but the Indianapolis, Ind., native also ranks among the UA career leaders in nine other categories. He ranks 10th in points scored (1,512), second in three-point field goals (252) and three-point field goal attempts (676), fourth in games started (103) and minutes played (3707), fifth in free throws (402), sixth in assists (464), seventh in steals (164), and ninth in free throw attempts (516).
Unprecedented: Luke Walton closed his 2001-02 season as the Pac-10 leader in assists at 6.3 per game. He is the first forward to lead the Pac-10 in assists since the league began tracking the statistic in 1974-75. Walton also ranked 18th nationally in assists and no frontcourt player is ranked higher than the San Diego native. Walton, who has gained a reputation as "the most complete forward in college basketball," according to Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe, was the only Pac-10 player to be ranked among the league's top 15 in scoring and the top 10 in rebounds, assists and steals.
On Target: Freshman Salim Stoudamire has certainly made an impact with his outside shooting. On the season, the Portland, Ore., native shot 44.3 percent from the field, including 45.3 percent from three-point range. Stoudamire has been so accurate, he ranks second on the school's career three-point FG percentage chart behind Steve Kerr (.573). His 434 points scored this season rank sixth on the UA freshman scoring list.
Top UA Freshman Scorers
Player Points Year 1. Coniel Norman 576 1972-73 2. Gilbert Arenas 523 1999-2000 3. Sean Elliott 499 1985-86 4. Eric Money 492 1972-73 5. Mike Bibby 458 1996-97 6. Salim Stoudamire 434 2001-02 7. Bob Elliott 429 1973-74
Another League Leader: Freshman Channing Frye made quite an impact on the Pac-10 as well, finishing the season as the league's field goal percentage leader. Frye connected on 59.5 percent of his attempts (122-of-205), and improved to 60.5 percent in conference play. Frye's 59.5 FG percentage would have ranked seventh nationally had he met the minimum of five made field goals per game.
Top Cats: UA finished the Pac-10 regular season slate with a 12-6 record, marking the 16th time in the last 17 seasons that the Cats have won at least 12 conference games, a feat matched by no other league foe. Dating back to the 1984-84 season, Arizona has averaged 15 league wins per year.
Freshman Contributions: The UA freshmen certainly made an impact this year, as the group combined to score 42.2 percent of the team's offense, grab 44.0 percent of the rebounds and log 49.2 percent of the minutes played.
400 Club: The 2001-02 edition of the Arizona Wildcats accomplished a rare statistical feat: four players scored at least 400 points in a single season. Jason Gardner (692 points), Luke Walton (487), Salim Stoudamire (434) and Rick Anderson (420) enabled the 2001-02 club to join the 1999-2000 team as the only two UA squads to accomplish the feat since 1987-88.
Another Breakthrough: Not only has Rick Anderson's offensive contributions come as expected, shooting 49.2 percent from the floor and averaging 12.4 points per game (more than doubling his career scoring output this season alone), but he's also been a force on the glass. The slender 6-foot-9 froward from Long Beach, Calif., led the team in offensive (99) and total rebounds (245) this season.
Notice Has Been Served: Freshman Will Bynum posted one of his best efforts in the last game of the year. The 5-foot-10 guard from Chicago tallied 10 points and three boards in 20 minutes against Oklahoma. For Bynum, who averaged 6.4 points and 1.4 assists per game, it was his ninth double-figure scoring effort in 2001-02.
Quietly Consistent: Who knows how the season may have turned out without the contributions of freshman center Isaiah Fox? The 6-foot-9 center from Santa Monica, Calif., averaged 7.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in that key five-game stretch to open the season, and then posted averages of 3.7 points and 5.3 rebounds over the team's last 10 games to help in the run through the postseason. Always consistent, Fox averaged 4.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 33 appearances (nine starts) this year.
Accepting Charity: Arizona closed the season as the Pac-10's second-best free throw shooting team at 73.1 percent. Along the way, the Wildcats managed to make more free throws (665) than the opposition attempted (636). On average, UA outscored the opposition by 6.5 points per game from the free throw line. Salim Stoudamire was Arizona's top marksman from the stripe at 90.4 percent, a figure that set a new single-season school record and ranked fourth nationally.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 61-7 (.897) since the start of the 1998-99 season when scoring at least 80 points. The Cats were 16-4 this season when scoring at least 80 points.
Stoudamire Comparison: Here is a statistical comparison of the Stoudamire cousins, Damon (1991-92) and Salim (2001-02), in their freshman seasons at Arizona.
GP-S Min. FG-A Pct. 3FG-A Pct. FT-A Pct. R/G A TO Blk Stl Pts.-Avg. Damon 30-0 540 76-167 .455 28-69 .406 37-48 .771 2.2 76 44 3 22 217-7.2 Salim 34-28 1021 129-291 .443 73-161 .453 103-114 .904 2.1 38 54 0 27 434-12.8
McKale Center East: Arizona's season got off to a flying start in November by defeating Maryland and Florida to claim the Coaches vs. Cancer IKON Classic championship. Under Lute Olson, Arizona is 8-0 at New York City's Madison Square Garden.
Record Breaker: File this one under dubious distinction. Junior Rick Anderson broke a 52-year old school record this year by committing 119 personal fouls. That broke the former school record of 113 set by Leo Johnson in 1949-50. Anderson can take solace in the fact that his average of 3.5 fouls per game is 0.8 less than the school record for average fouls per game.
Porous: Arizona opponents averaged 77.7 points per game, the highest figure since 1978-79, when the UA defense allowed 79.3 points per game. 2001-02 also marked just the third time since the advent of the three-point line in 1986-87 that Arizona had given up more than seven three-pointers per game. UA allowed 7.29 treys per game this year, which was just off the school record of 7.69 set in 1998-99.
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed two student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November Early Signing Period. Hassan Adams (G, 6-4, 205) from Los Angeles, Calif., Westchester High School and Chris Rodgers (G, 6-4, 190) from Portland, Ore., Woodrow Wilson High School will join the squad next fall.
Staff Change: Arizona bid a fond farewell to assistant Jay John, who left April 9 after four seasons to take over as head coach at Oregon State. Olson filled the vacancy a day later when Josh Pastner was named a full-time assistant coach. Pastner has been with the program for six seasons as a player and administrator.