June 2, 2009
SEASON DATA: Arizona (21-14, 9-9 Pac-10) won 21 games, advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 25th consecutive season (28th appearance in school history) and finished the season ranked 24th in the country ... UA's 25 straight NCAA Tournament appearances is the longest active streak in all NCAA divisions and is the second-longest streak in Division I history ... Despite being seeded 12th, UA advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 13th time in school history ... Two Wildcats earned All-America accolades , while four received all-Pac-10 Conference honors.
THE RANKINGS: The Wildcats finished the season ranked No. 24 in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Top-25 Poll. It marked the only time during the 2008-09 campaign in which Arizona was nationally ranked and continued a streak that has seen the program earn a national ranking in 22 consecutive seasons dating back to 1987-88. Additionally, the end-of-year ranking marks the firs time in four years that Arizona closed the season with a national ranking.
ARIZONA INTERIM HEAD COACH Russ Pennell . . . capped in his first season at the University of Arizona and his first overall as a college head coach with a record of 21-14 (.600) and a berth in the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Regional semifinal ... 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, 48, 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 was assisted by Mike Dunlap, Reggie Geary and Matt Brase.
EXCELLENCE SUSTAINED: As mentioned above, Arizona made its 25th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009, which is the longest active streak and second longest tournament appearance streak in NCAA history. The streak trails only North Carolina, which made 27 straight appearances from 1975-2001. Regarding active numbers of appearances, here are the leaders, three of which were found at the Midwest Regional: Arizona 25, Kansas 20, Duke 14 and Michigan State 12.
UPHOLDING TRADITION: Arizona captured its 20th and 21st wins of the season during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament to post the 31st 20-win season in school history and the 21st in the last 22 seasons. Only last year's club, who posted a 19-15 record, failed to win 20 games in that span. Since the start of the 1984-85 season, the Wildcats have averaged 24.8 wins per season. The program has also won 41 NCAA Tournament games - sixth-most nationally - since its current streak started in 1985.
ARIZONA IN THE NATIONAL STATISTICAL RANKINGS: As a team, Arizona ranked in the top 60 nationally in four statistical categories: three-point field goal percentage (.387/21st), field goal percentage (.474/27th), free throw percentage (.738/32nd) and assist:turnover ratio (1.1:1/52nd). Individually, three Wildcat players ranked in the top 100 in five categories: Chase Budinger, scoring (18.0 ppg/67th); Jordan Hill, scoring (18.3 ppg/55th), rebounding (11.0 rpg/11th) and field goal percentage (.537/53rd); and Nic Wise, free throw percentage (.848/39th) and assists (4.6 apg/77th).
SENIOR CLASS: Arizona's senior class, which includes players David Bagga and Fendi Onobun, floor manager Jamal Boddie, and video manager Alan Peterson, made their final contributions to the program in Indianapolis. Over the last four years, the Cats posted an 80-53 record (.602), including a 48-16 (.750) record in McKale Center, won 20 games three times and played in four NCAA Tournaments. All four seniors are on pace to earn their degrees by the end of the summer. Fittingly, role players Bagga and Onobun each scored points in their final appearances in McKale Center and in a Wildcat uniform in Indianapolis.
ALL-AMERICA: Two Wildcats garnered All-American honors for their efforts during the 2008-09 campaign. Jordan Hill was a third-team All-American as selected by The Sporting News and an honorable mention pick by the Associated Press. Chase Budinger earned honorable mention kudos from the Associated Press as well. Hill and Budinger are the 23rd and 24th Wildcats to earn a total of 89 All-America honors since 1950-51. Additionally, they are the first Cats to claim All-America honors in the same season since Channing Frye and Salim Stoudamire in 2004-05.
ALL-DISTRICT: Two Arizona players earned all-region honors in voting released by the USBWA and the NABC. Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill were first team all-District IX picks by the USBWA. Furthermore, Hill was an NABC all-District 20 first team selection, while Budinger landed on the second team. Previously, Budinger was an all-district selection in 2007 and 2008, while it was a first for Hill.
ALL-CONFERENCE: Four Wildcats were honored with Pac-10 postseason honors, as Chase Budinger (1st), Jordan Hill (1st) and Nic Wise (2nd) were all named all-conference, while Kyle Fogg was an honorable mention all-Freshman pick. It marks the 26th consecutive season that UA has had at least one all-Pac-10 player and the 25th time with at least one first-team selection.
SCHEDULED TO RETURN: With the graduation of seniors David Bagga and Fendi Onobun and juniors Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill making themselves eligible for the National Basketball Association Draft, Arizona could return seven of 12 letterwinners for the 2009-10 season. Statistically, it is possible that Arizona will return 43.0 percent of the points scored (1,087 of 2,529), 34.5 percent of the rebounds (408 of 1,183), 58.8 percent of the assists (294 of 500) and 52.2 percent of the minutes played (3,664 of 7,025).
SIMILAR FEATURES: Much has happened within the UA program recently with three coaches over the last three seasons. When looking at the statistics, each year's performance is relatively similar. It bears mentioning is that each coach guided his team to the 20-win neighborhood and participated in the NCAA Tournament. One interesting note when looking over the last effort of Russ Pennell (21-14 in 2008-09), Kevin O'Neill (19-15 in 2007-08) and Lute Olson (20-11 in 2006-07) is that the coach with the least amount of head coaching experience actually guided the team to more wins and deeper into the postseason.
Coach FG% Opp FG 3/g-Opp Reb Mar A/G TO/G S/G PPG Opp Mar Pennell .474 .438 6.1-8.3 33.8 +2.2 14.3 12.6 6.2 72.3 69.2 +3.1 O'Neill .478 .441 6.5-5.4 30.9 -1.6 15.5 12.2 5.6 71.9 66.9 +5.0 Olson .478 .441 5.5-8.4 37.4 +5.5 16.2 13.8 6.0 78.0 72.5 +5.5
SWEET 16: The 71-57 win over Cleveland State on March 22 clinched Arizona's 13th regional semifinal appearance in program history. Arizona has advanced to five Sweet 16 berths in the last 10 seasons, but this was the first for the program since 2005. Arizona's first NCAA Tournament appearance as a No. 12 seed turned out to be productive, as the Cats were the lowest seed remaining in the event. It was the lowest seed for the program since seeding was introduced to the tournament in 1985.
SELECT COMPANY: Lending more significance to Arizona's 25th consecutive NCAA Tournament is the fact that the Cats accomplished the feat with three different coaches in the last three seasons. In NCAA Division I tournament history, Arizona is the third program to make three consecutive appearances with three different head coaches. The others: Seattle University (Vince Cazetta, 1962; Clair Markey, 1963; Bob Boyd, 1964) and Southern Illinois (Bruce Weber, 2003; Matt Painter, 2004; Chris Lowery, 2005). Russ Pennell is the fifth UA mentor to lead the Cats to the NCAA Tournament, joining Fred A. Enke (1951), Fred Snowden (1976, `77), Lute Olson (1985-2007) and Kevin O'Neill (2008), and is just the third (Snowden/Olson) to win a tournament game.
RECOGNIZED: When it comes to Pac-10 Players of the Week, no school was honored more often than Arizona. Four Wildcats - Jordan Hill (Dec. 15), Jamelle Horne (Dec. 29), Chase Budinger (Feb. 2) and Nic Wise (Feb. 16) - each earned the weekly distinction from the conference office (see complete list at left). Two of those players, Horne and Wise, were honored for the first time in their collegiate careers.
FEEL THE BURN: It's been a season-long trend so it wasn't surprising when Arizona's "Big Three" of Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise logged 91.4 percent (329 of 360) of the possible minutes during the NCAA Tournament. Only one other player, freshman Kyle Fogg (101), broke the 100-minute barrier in the postseason. Each member of the Big Three played more than 1,200 minutes during the regular season and the trio ranked first, fourth and seventh on the Pac-10's minutes played list. Budinger's 1,317 minutes played in 2008-09 were the most for a single season in school history.
CONTROLLING THE ACTION: En route to a total of 3,803 minutes played, Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise combined to play 32 games of 40 or more minutes in 2008-09. Budinger and Wise led the way with 12 apiece, while Hill added eight. All told, Budinger, Hill and Wise logged 54 percent of the total minutes played for the Wildcats this season.
STRONG TO THE FINISH: Junior forward Chase Budinger capped his collegiate career with a 22-point, three-assist effort against Louisville that included him delivering 14 of Arizona's 28 first-half points. The 6-foot-7 junior closed his UA career by finishing 11th on the school's points scored list with 1,697. Only two players - legendary Wildcats and NBA veterans Sean Elliott (1,820) and Bob Elliott (1,701) - scored more points in their first three collegiate seasons. Additionally, Budinger ranks second, behind only Jason Gardner, in minutes played per game (35.4) in a career, fifth in three-point field goal attempts (496) and sixth in three-point field goals made (190).
LATE BLOOMER: It was often said that few players, if any, came as far as quickly as did Jordan Hill, who worked himself into one of the nation's best big men. With per game averages of 18.3 points and 11.0 rebounds, the 6-foot-10 Hill became the first Arizona player to average double figures in both points and rebounds in the same season since Larry Demic in 1978-79. Incidentally, Demic, who averaged 19.3 points and 10.3 rebounds, was Arizona's first NBA first-round draft choice in 1979.
MORE ON HILL: Eighty-nine percent of his points (1,071 of 1,208) and 85 percent of his rebounds (645 of 763) came in the last two seasons. He finished his career ranked among the Arizona career leaders in points scored (1,208/27th), rebounds (763/10th), blocked shots (140/6th) and field goal percentage (.578/5th).
STACKING UP: UA point guard Nic Wise certainly represented himself well in his first full season as the Wildcat floor general. The 5-foot-10 junior averaged 15.7 points and 4.6 assists per game. He also stacks up nicely against some of the most recent Wildcat points guards, especially when it comes to turnovers per minutes played (second among the group) and assist:turnover ratio. The statistics listed are each player's most-recent season in Tucson.
Player Year GP Min Ast TO A/TO TO/MP PPG Nic Wise 2008-09 35 1273 160 101 1.58 12.60 15.7 Jerryd Bayless 2007-08 30 1072 121 89 1.36 12.04 19.7 Mustafa Shakur 2006-07 31 1079 215 114 1.89 9.46 11.9 Jason Gardner 2002-03 32 1118 158 91 1.74 12.28 14.8 Jason Terry 1999-2000 29 1107 159 120 1.33 9.23 21.9 Mike Bibby 1997-98 35 1124 199 78 2.55 14.41 17.2
ON TARGET: Look no further than field goal percentage to gauge UA success, and that was definitely true in the NCAA Tournament, where the Cats shot .525 (52-of-99) in its two wins and .381 (24-of-63) in its Sweet 16 loss. This season, Arizona connected on 50.5 percent (562-of-1,113) of its FG attempts in games it won and just 43.0 percent (375-of-779) when it didn't. All told, Arizona was 12-2 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field and 18-5 when outshooting the opposition.
CAPITALIZING ON OPPORTUNITIES: If you have to grind it out - and UA did that all season - the squad had better take advantage of its charitable opportunities. Arizona connected on 73.8 percent (523-of-709) of its free throws during the season, and actually made 13 more free throws than opponents attempted (510). On average, the Cats outscored opponents by nearly five points per game from the stripe and attempted an average of 5.7 more free throws per game.
SOLID SOPHOMORE SEASON: Forward Jamelle Horne enjoyed a productive campaign in 2008-09, averaging 6.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, figures that ranked fourth and third on the club, respectively. The 6-foot-6 Horne started in 22 of 35 appearances and averaged better than 28 minutes per game. He finished in double figures eight times in 2008-09, including a 19-point, 13-rebound performance vs. Kansas on Dec. 23.
FRESHMAN PHENOM: From late-spring signee to starting line-up stalwart, guard Kyle Fogg definitely was a bright spot in 2008-09. The 6-foot-2, 175, pound freshman from Brea, Calif., averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 assists per game, while shooting 45.0 percent (63-of-140) from the field. He made 27 starts and was one of just four Cats to see action in all 35 games.
THIS CHASE IS APPEALING: The junior campaign was a good one for Chase Budinger. He posted career-best averages of 18.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. In addition to shooting .480 (219-of-456) from the field and .399 (67-of-168) from three-point range, the 6-foot-7 forward from Encinitas, Calif., led the team with 67 treys and registered career-highs in points (630), rebounds (217), assists (118), blocks (16) and steals (50). His Sweet 16 appearance was the 100th of his career.
ON-COURT IMPROVEMENTS: Sophomore guard Zane Johnson showed flashes of improvement, as the Phoenix, Ariz., native ranked third on the club with 36 treys and shot better than 43 percent from the floor. Johnson posted a 1.41 assist:turnover ratio and averaged just one turnover for every 28.6 minutes played. He averaged 4.6 points per game and scored a career-high 17 points on Dec. 2 vs. Loyola Marymount.
CLAMP DOWN: Arizona clamped down a bit during the NCAA Tournament, limiting Utah and Cleveland State to a combined 39.8 field goal percentage (49-of-123). On March 22, Arizona held Cleveland State to 37.3 percent shooting (22-of-59), including just 29.6 percent in the first half. Nine times in 2008-09 opponents failed to shoot at least 40 percent from the field. Arizona's .438 field goal percentage defense figure was the lowest for the program in four seasons.
HONOR AMONG THIEVES: Led by Kyle Fogg (7) and Chase Budinger (5), the Wildcats boosted its steals total by averaging 8.7 steals per game during the NCAA Tournament. Arizona's 217 steals and 6.2 steals per game average were the program's best efforts since 2005-06. Nic Wise led all Wildcats with 52, while Budinger added 50.
SCORING 80: Arizona scored 84 points March 20 vs. Utah, breaking the 80-point barrier for the 10th time this year. Perhaps no statistic is more telling of UA success, as the squad is 180-19 (.905) since the start of the 1997-98 season when scoring at least 80 points. Arizona was 10-0 this season when topping the 80-point plateau.
IN MARCH: Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Arizona has a 53-28 (.654) record in the month of March. In that span, 38 of those games have been played in the NCAA Tournament and UA is 26-12 (.684) in them.
WORTH NOTING: With Arizona having appeared in its 25th consecutive NCAA Tournament in 2008-09, here's a number to put that into perspective. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics for 2007 (the most current available), there are more than 103 million people in the United States who have never witnessed an NCAA Tournament without Arizona's participation. That covers 34.5 percent of the nation's population.
WELCOME ABOARD: On April 6, Arizona director of athletics Jim Livengood introduced Sean Miller as the 16th head coach in program history. Miller, who posted a 120-47 (.719) record in five seasons at Xavier University, added Archie Miller, James Whitford and Emanuel "Book" Richardson as to his coaching staff later that month.