Nov. 5, 2002
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2002 Time: 7 p.m. MST Location: Olson Court at McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz. Radio: None TV: None
Game Data: A year after exceeding nearly everyone's expectations by winning 24 games, capturing the Pac-10 Tournament title, and advancing to the NCAA Tournament's "Sweet 16", top-ranked Arizona will not sneak up on anyone ... The squad's 10 returning lettermen and four freshmen will be split as evenly as possible for tonight's Pepsi Red-Blue Scrimmage ... The Cats have two exhibition games schedule (Nov. 12 & 20) before it opens the regular season against No. 23 Western Kentucky on Nov. 23.
The Rankings: UA opens the 2002-03 campaign as the nation's top-ranked team in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. The Associated Press Top 25 will be released Nov. 11. 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.
What A Difference a Year Makes: This time last year Arizona was an unranked "unknown" heading to New York to open the season against No. 2 Maryland. Now one year later, Arizona carries the burden of the No. 1 ranking with a trio of seniors, five highly-experienced sophomores and a total of 10 returning lettermen.
What To Look For: Expect an up-tempo 94-foot style of play with pressure at both ends of the court. With depth at every position, a switch to a full-court press was needed to get more players more minutes.
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.
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.
Just Watching: Sophomore Salim Stoudamire will not take part in tonight's festivities to rest his left ankle. The guard from Portland, Ore., reinjured his ankle in last Friday's scrimmage and will miss tonight's game for precautionary reasons.
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.
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).
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.
Freshman Contributions: The UA freshmen certainly made an impact in 2001-02, 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.
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, too: 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 Wildcats return to action on Tuesday, Nov. 12, as the squad hosts the EA Sports All-Stars in McKale Center at 8 p.m. MST.