April 22, 2003
Season Data: Arizona (28-4, 17-1 Pac-10) won 28 games, captured the school's 10th Pacific-10 Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 19th consecutive season, which is the longest active streak in the country ... The Wildcats also continued a nation's-best streak with its 16th straight 20-win season ... The Cats' Elite Eight berth was the seventh in 22 NCAA Tournament appearances ... Collectively, Arizona averaged 85.2 points per game, a figure that led the nation and was the sixth-highest figure in school history ... UA's 1,374 rebounds (42.9 rpg) ranked seventh in the UA annals.
The Rankings: The Wildcats advanced to the NCAA West Regional Final and finished the 2002-03 season ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and No. 5 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. The preseason No. 1 team in the nation in both polls, Arizona held the top spot in 13 of 19 polls released by the AP. UA has been ranked in 270 consecutive AP polls released during the regular season only. It also marks the seventh consecutive year in which Arizona has finished the season ranked in the top 10 in one or both major college basketball polls and the 13th time in the Lute Olson era.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . completed his 20th season at Arizona and his 30th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 691-239 (.743) and 499-147 (.772) 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 second-most Pac-10 wins (279) in history, trailing UCLA's John Wooden (304, 1949-75) ... He has the second-best conference winning percentage (.784/279-77) and second-most league championships won (10) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles) ... During his 20-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 10 Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, '89, '90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for the past 19 years, 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 seven times (1986, '88, '89, '93, '94, '98, 2003), 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 16 years (429-101/.809) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 45 NBA Draft picks, including 26 at Arizona - 20 alone since 1990 ... He's led UA to 16 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 25 overall in his career, making him one of only five head coaches in NCAA history to record 25 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 294-30 (.907) in McKale Center and have won 222 of its last 237 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Rodney Tention and Josh Pastner.
The Success Continues: The Wildcats totaled 28 wins in 2002-03, which ties for the fifth-highest single-season win total in school history. In addition to the 16th consecutive 20-win season, it was also Arizona's 26th 20-win season overall and the 25th 20-win season for Lute Olson as a college head coach. The Wildcats have the nation's highest winning percentage over the last 16 years at .809 (429-101). In 99 seasons of collegiate competition, Arizona has a 1,438-788 (.646) record.
Arizona in the National Rankings: As a team, the Wildcats ranked among the top 30 nationally in several statistical categories: first in scoring offense (85.2 points per game), second in won-loss percentage (.875), third in scoring margin (+14.5 ppg), sixth in assists per game (17.8), and 11th in rebound margin (+6.4). Individually, Channing Frye ranked 29th nationally in field goal percentage (.569). Incidentally, Arizona led the Pac-10 in seven different statistical categories.
Player of the Year: Senior guard Jason Gardner was named the winner of the 2003 male Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award, given by the Basketball Hall of Fame and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Gardner won the award, which is presented annually to the nation's most outstanding senior six-foot and under. He joins Sean Elliott (1989) and Jason Terry (1999) as the only University of Arizona players to earn Player-of-the-Year accolades.
All-America Honors: Jason Gardner was named to a total of six All-America teams following the 2002-03 season, which marked the seventh consecutive year in which the Cats have had at least one All-American. Gardner earned first-team kudos from the John R. Wooden Award, second-team accolades from the Associated Press, NABC, USBWA and the Senior CLASS Award; and third-team honors from foxsports.com. Teammate Luke Walton was an Honorable Mention selection by the Associated Press. Incidentally, Gardner earned All-America honors 12 times during his career.
One of the Best Ever: CBS-TV announced its list of the "Ten Greatest Coaches in College Basketball History" during the 2003 Final Four and it included UA head coach Lute Olson. In voting done by a 500-member panel, Olson was joined on the list by Forrest C. "Phog" Allen, Henry Iba, Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, Pete Newell, Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, John Thompson and John Wooden.
Seven Sweet 16s: 2002-03 marked Arizona's 11th regional semifinal berth and seventh in the last 12 seasons. The Cats are one of seven schools to have made as many as seven Sweet 16 appearances in that span (1992-2003). Each team's best finish is below:
1. Kentucky 10 National Champions 1996, 1998 2. Duke 8 National Champions 1992, 2001 Kansas 8 Final Four 1993, 2002, 2003 4. ARIZONA 7 National Champions 1997 Connecticut 7 National Champions 1999 Maryland 7 National Champions 2002 UCLA 7 National Champions 1995
All-Conference: The Wildcats were well represented on the Pac-10's postseason honor roll, as no fewer than eight players and coaches were recognized. Jason Gardner and Luke Walton both earned all-conference accolades, while teammates Hassan Adams and Andre Iguodala were named to the all-freshman team. Head coach Lute Olson, who shared the honor with Stanford's Mike Montgomery, was named league Coach of the Year for the seventh time in his career. Rick Anderson, Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire also received honorable mention all-conference honors.
Conference Titles: Arizona won its 10th Pacific-10 Conference regular season championship in 2002-03 and the school's 21st conference title overall. It was UA's first league title since 1999-2000 and its first outright championship since 1997-98. Over the last 20 seasons, Lute Olson has guided the Wildcats to 10 conference regular season championships, a feat matched nationally only by Kansas in the nation's top six conferences (Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern).
Top Cat: UA finished the Pac-10 slate with a 17-1 record, marking the 18th time in the last 19 seasons that the Cats have won at least 12 conference games, a feat matched by no other league foe. Dating back to 1984-85, Arizona has averaged 14.4 league wins per season. The only time in that span that Arizona failed to win at least 12 conference games was 1996-97, the year UA won the national championship.
Select Six: Arizona's 17-1 record in Pac-10 play equaled the best league record since the conference expanded to 10 teams in 1978-79. In those 25 seasons, six teams have gone 17-1 with Arizona accomplishing the feat five times (1988, 1989, 1993, 1998, 2003) and Oregon State (1981) once.
Always On the Run: One of the Arizona calling cards this season was an ability to make big scoring runs. The UA has posted a double-figure scoring run seven times this season. Here is a look at the list:
28 points - 32-4 run over 11:10 vs. USC, Feb. 15
24 points - 26-2 run over 5:58 vs. UCLA, Feb. 13
22 points - 24-2 run over 6:16 vs. Western Kentucky, Nov. 23
19 points - 24-5 run over 8:04 at Arizona State, Feb. 22
17 points - 20-3 run over 12:22 at Kansas, Jan. 25
16 points - 16-0 run over 3:38 vs Kansas, March 29
14 points - 18-4 run over 5:08 vs. Oregon, March 8
Against Ranked Opponents: Arizona finished the season 8-1 against nationally-ranked opponents, including a 5-1 mark away from home. In the Lute Olson era, Arizona is 93-58 (.616) against ranked opposition.
What Returns in 2004: Arizona's tri-captains and tri-most valuable players, Rick Anderson, Jason Gardner and Luke Walton, each played their final collegiate games in 2002-03, but the cupboard certainly won't be bare as the Cats are expected to return eight letterwinners for the 2003-04 campaign. All told, Arizona could return 52.5 percent (3,413 of 6,500) of the minutes played, 54.5 percent (1,485 of 2,725) of the points scored and 57.4 percent (788 of 1,374) of the rebounds.
Balanced Attack: With five players averaging in double figures, it's easy to see that Arizona was at its collective best when firing on all cylinders. The Wildcats were a spotless 10-0 when five players finished in double figures. Twice during the season Arizona placed more than five players in double digits, including a high of seven in the season opener against Western Kentucky.
Statistically Speaking: UA's balanced offensive attack accomplished a feat matched by four other Lute Olson-coached clubs at the University of Arizona: have seven players score 200 or more points. It is the first time since 1995-96 that UA has matched the feat, and joins the 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1991-92 clubs in placing seven players above the 200-point plateau.
A Top-10 Guy: Arguably the most-decorated player in school history, Jason Gardner ended his career as Arizona's all-time leader in games played (136), games started (135), minutes played (4,825), average minutes per game (35.5), three-point field goals (318), and three-point field goal attempts (875). He leaves Arizona ranked in the top 10 in seven other statistical categories. Additionally, he ranks in the top 10 in five Pac-10 statistical categories.
Winners: Led by the duo of Jason Gardner and Luke Walton, Arizona posted a four-year record of 107-29 (.787), won two Pac-10 titles, a Pac-10 postseason tournament and advanced to the 2001 national championship game. The 107 wins equaled the second-most over a four-year period in school history. Below is a list of the top-five victory totals and the four-year seniors in uniform (consecutively) during that span.
Years W L Pct. Four-Year Seniors 1. 1987-91 117 21 .848 Matt Muehlebach 2. 1986-90 107 26 .805 Jud Buechler/Harvey Mason 1997-2001 107 27 .799 Justin Wessel 1999-2003 107 29 .787 Jason Gardner/Luke Walton 5. 1988-92 106 25 .809 Matt Othick/Sean Rooks/Wayne Womack 1994-98 106 27 .797 Michael Dickerson/Miles SimonHere are two notes relating to four-year accomplishments in Tucson: 1.) every four-year player to enter the program since the fall of 1985 has won at least 101 games in that span, which covers the last 15 senior classes; and 2.) every four-year player to enter the program since the fall of 1990 has played in at least one Final Four.
On the Road: With a 9-0 conference road record, the 2002-03 Wildcats became just the third Pac-10 team to finish unbeaten in league play on the road since the conference expanded to 10 teams in 1978-79. Oregon State (1980-81) and Stanford (2000-01) are the two others to accomplish the feat.
Streak Breakers: Arizona's road successes went a long way towards ending several homecourt win streaks in 2002-03. No fewer than three streaks of note were snapped courtesy of a Wildcat victory. UA's 81-72 win at Oregon on Jan. 2, 2003, ended the Ducks' 23-game streak at McArthur Court; UA's 91-74 win at Kansas on Jan. 25, 2003, ended the Jayhawks' 25-game streak at Allen Fieldhouse; and UA's 88-75 win at California on Feb. 27, 2003, ended the Golden Bears' 17-game streak at Haas Pavilion. No Pac-10 team has a better overall road record over the last 20 years than Arizona's 224-118 (.655) mark.
In March: Since 1996-97, Arizona is 36-12 (.750) in the month of March.
Select Company: Jason Gardner's and Luke Walton's statistical accomplishments have put them into very select company. Gardner is one of just four players in Pac-10 history to reach 1,500 points, 500 assists and 200 steals. Meanwhile, Walton is one of only three Pac-10 players to amass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists.
1,500 points/500 assists/200 steals Pts. Ast. Stl. Gary Patyon, Oregon State (1986-90) 2,172 938 321 Tyus Edney, UCLA (1992-95) 1,515 652 224 Brevin Knight, Stanford (1993-97) 1,714 780 298 Jason Gardner, Arizona (1999-2003) 1,984 622 225
1,000 points/500 rebounds/500 assists Pts. Reb. Ast. Ron Lee, Oregon (1972-76) 2,085 580 572 Pooh Richardson, UCLA (1986-89) 1,461 565 833 Luke Walton, Arizona (1998-2003) 1,179 662 582
Two of a Kind: Jason Gardner capped his collegiate career with a 23-point effort vs. Kansas. It was his team-leading 24th double-figure game of the season and the 100th of his career. Over the last 20 years, the only other UA player to finish his career with 100 or more double-figure scoring games was Sean Elliott (1985-89) with 128.
Big Game Player: Senior forward Rick Anderson was at his best when it mattered most...in the postseason. The native of Long Beach, Calif., averaged 12.5 points and 9.3 rebounds, while shooting 54.1 percent from the floor, in four NCAA Tournament games. That was nearly two points and three rebounds better than his season averages. If you add the Pac-10 Tournament game, his averages jump to 14.6 points and 9.6 rebounds.
Good Things to Come: Center Channing Frye has certainly proven himself to be a player to watch in 2004, as he averaged 12.6 points and a team-leading 8.0 rebounds while shooting 56.9 percent from the field. The sophomore from Phoenix, Ariz., has developed into one of the finest big men in the West. He finished the season averaging 1.9 blocks per game, a figure that ranked second in the Pac-10, and led Arizona with nine double-doubles.
Fast Climber: It hasn't taken Salim Stoudamire long to prove himself to be one of the finest shooters in Wildcat history. Not only does he already rank second on the UA career three-point percentage list at 44.9 percent (144-of-321), but the sophomore from Portland, Ore., is tied with Mike Bibby (1996-98) for ninth place on the career three-point field goals list with 144. His. 44.9 career percentage also ranks fifth in Pac-10 history.
Strong Finish: His performance in the West Regional belied the fact that Hassan Adams was only a freshman. In games against Notre Dame and Kansas, Adams hit 10-of-13 field goal attempts (.769), grabbed eight rebounds and collected six steals. He completed his freshman campaign with per-game averages of 9.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals. He also shot 49.0 percent from the field.
They'll Be Talking About Him: Following a Feb. 13 performance vs. UCLA in which he tallied 18 points, five rebounds and two assists, Luke Walton said of teammate Andre Iguodala, "He is going to be one of the best players to ever come out of Arizona by the time he is done here." Iguodala ranked second on the squad with 47 steals, and third in offensive rebounds (62), assists (66) and blocks (18), while averaging 6.4 points and 4.9 rebounds. He was one of five UA players to finish with a positive assist:turnover ratio (1.34).
Tough in the Middle: One of the reasons Arizona's depth is so solid is its ability to bring players like Isaiah Fox off the bench. The 6-foot-9, 269-pound center from Santa Monica, Calif., unselfishly averaged 3.6 points and 3.0 rebounds in 31 games this season. The sophomore made five starts and ranked second on the squad with a 54.5 (48-of-88) field goal percentage.
Nice Stats: Despite averaging just 8.3 minutes per game, freshman Chris Rodgers ranked third on the team with a 1.35 assist:turnover ratio and was one of four players to shoot better than 70 percent from the free throw line (34-of-47/.723). In 28 appearances, the guard from Portland, Ore., averaged 2.5 points and 1.0 assists per game.
Scoring 80: Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 83-8 (.912) since the start of the 1998-99 season when scoring at least 80 points. The Cats were 13-1 this season when scoring at least 80 points.
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed three student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Ndudi Ebi (F, 6-8, 192) from Houston, Texas, Westbury Christian High School, Mustafa Shakur (G, 6-3, 175) from Wynnewood, Pa., Friends Central High School, and Kirk Walters (C, 6-10, 210) from Grand Rapids, Mich., South Christian High School will join the squad next fall.