Nov. 10, 2008
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008 Time: 7 p.m. MST Location: Olson Court, McKale Center (14,545), Tucson, Ariz. Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen) TV: None
GAME DATA: Arizona (0-0, 0-0 Pac-10) plays host to its second exhibition game of the 2008-09 schedule Wednesday against Sonoma State (0-0) in McKale Center ... Sonoma is an NCAA Division II school located in Rohnert Park, Calif. ... UA and SSU last met in an exhibition game, Nov. 9, 2005, in a 103-63 Wildcat win ... Arizona is averaging 87 points per game in its last three exhibition games ... Following tonight's game, Arizona tips off the regular season on Monday, Nov. 17, vs. Florida Atlantic in the Dick's Sporting Goods N.I.T. Season Tip-Off.
THE RANKINGS: Arizona is unranked in both polls to start the season for the first time since the 2001-02 season and just the second time since the start of the 1987-88 campaign. The Wildcats are receiving votes in both polls: 11 (T41st) in the Associated Press Top 25 and 18 (34th) in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches' Poll.
ARIZONA INTERIM HEAD COACH Russ Pennell . . . will begin his first season at Arizona and his first overall as a college head coach on Nov. 17 ... 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, 47, 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 is assisted by Mike Dunlap, Reggie Geary and Matt Brase.
LAST TIME OUT: Four players finished in double figures as Arizona ran away from Incarnate Word in an exhibition game Nov. 6. The Wildcats used two big second-half runs to put the game away. Trailing 41-40 with 19:21 to go, UA responded with a 12-1 run over the next 3:04 and added a 20-5 run later in the contest to push the lead to 23. Jordan Hill hit 10-of-15 shots and finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Nic Wise and Jamelle Horne chipped in with 16 apiece.
SCOUTING SONOMA STATE: Coached by Pat Fuscaldo, the Seawolves hope to rebound from last season's 11-15 mark and improve on a ninth-place prediction in the 2008-09 California Collegiate Athletic Association preseason poll. Leading the way for SSU is junior guard Ben Washington, who averaged 10.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last year, and senior guard Keith Garner, who added 7.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. The Seawolves were outshot (.473-.464), outrebounded (30.7-30.2) and outscored (68.3-66.6) last season.
LAST MEETING: Arizona 103, Sonoma State 63, Nov. 9, 2005. Chris Rodgers scored a game-high 19 points to lead five Wildcats in double figures in the 40-point win. Arizona connected on 24-of-40 (.600) shots in the first half to jump out to a 64-29 lead at the break. Twelve UA players saw at least 10 minutes of action and 11 of the 13 scored points. Marcus Williams had 17 points, while Hassan Adams tallied 13 points and six assists.
STAFF CHANGES: Last Friday, UA interim head coach Russ Pennell announced a pair of changes within his coaching staff. After serving the last two seasons as administrative assistant/video coordinator, Matt Brase was promoted to assistant coach, while Dewey Pennell was added to the staff as the director of basketball operations. A long-time high school coach, Dewey Pennell is Russ' father.
HELP FROM EVERYONE: In stressing the team concept, Coach Pennell certainly is hoping for the kind of contributions he got from his entire roster last Thursday. In the win over Incarnate Word, all 12 Wildcats saw action, while nine of 12 played eight minutes or more. Additionally, nine of the 12 either scored points or grabbed a rebound.
LIGHTING IT UP: The first number that jumps off the boxscore from Thursday's exhibition game is the 97 points scored. Regardless of the opponent, 97 points is an impressive number. To put that into perspective, the last time Arizona scored more than 97 points in a regular-season game was Nov. 19, 2006, in a 102-87 win over New Mexico State.
ON THE GLASS: Led by Jordan Hill's game-high 13 rebounds, Arizona outrebounded Incarnate Word, 54-22, including a 23-6 offensive rebound advantage. Such an effort led to a 27-7 UA advantage in second-chance points. In fact, Hill's nine offensive boards were more than the entire Cardinal squad.
KNOCKING THEM DOWN: In its first game against outside competition, Arizona definitely found its shooting eye, as the club hit 52.4 percent (33-of-63) of its FG attempts and shot 50 percent or better in each half. After a sluggish start in the first half (14-of-28/.500), the Cats warmed up in the second, connecting on 19-of-35 attempts (.524) after the break. UA starters were 15-of-32 (.469) from the floor, while the reserves went 18-of-31 (.581). Last season, UA shot .478 (843-of-1,765) from the field as a team and was 13-0 when shooting 50 percent or better.
FINDING OTHER WAYS TO CONTRIBUTE: Obviously, it wasn't the best shooting day of his career (2-of-10), but junior forward Chase Budinger found a few more ways to contribute to last Thursday's win. First, he found his way to the free throw line, where he hit 11-of-12 attempts. Second, he grabbed nine rebounds, including eight defensive boards. Third, he passed out four assists to finish with 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Had that been a regular season game, Budinger would have equaled or set career highs in free throws made and attempted.
FIRST OF MANY: While it was only an exhibition, Jordan Hill set a nice tone with a double-double - 23 points (10-of-15 FG) and 13 rebounds - and a blocked shot vs. Incarnate Word. UIW's Pierce Caldwell said of Hill after the game, "Their big man was having a dunk contest out there and we just couldn't body up." Eight of Hill's 10 field goals were either lay-ups or dunks. For good measure, Hill also added two assists.
WHAT HE DOES BEST: Simply put, junior guard Nic Wise just makes Arizona go. Thursday against Incarnate Word, the 5-foot-10 Houston, Texas, product tallied 16 points (5-of-11 FG/5-of-6 FT), four rebounds, a game-high eight assists and a steal in 26 minutes. Interestingly, Wise's eight assists went to six different teammates. Last season, Wise ranked third in the Pac-10 with an average of 4.4 assists per game.
FINDING HIS COMFORT LEVEL: Freshman guard Brendon Lavender looked much more comfortable in his second appearance in a UA uniform last Thursday, and his output reflected that. The native of Mesa, Ariz., connected on 3-of-4 field goals, including two treys, to finish with eight points, two assists and a steal in 19 minutes.
TOP 50: University of Arizona men's basketball player Chase Budinger was named to the 2008-09 John R. Wooden Award preseason All-America team, it was announced Nov. 7 by the Los Angeles Athletic Club's Wooden Award Committee. The Wildcat junior is included among a list of 50 student-athletes who are under consideration for the 2009 John R. Wooden Award, which has been given to college basketball's player of the year annually since 1969. Budinger made the preseason list for the second straight year and is one of five Pac-10 players on the list.
PRESEASON ACCOLADES: Chase Budinger garnered preseason All-America honors from a pair of college basketball websites. He was named to the collegeinsider.com 2008-09 preseason honor roll and was a third-team preseason All-American according to collegehoops.net. Budinger averaged 17.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game as a sophomore last season.
PRODUCTIVITY: Sophomore Jamelle Horne put up some strong numbers in the win over Incarnate Word. The 6-foot-7 forward tallied 16 points, nine rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes. Horne hit 6-of-11 shots from the floor, including 2-of-4 from behind the arc, and was active on the glass at both ends, finishing with four offensive and five defensive rebounds.
MOVING UP: With the 2008-09 National Basketball Association regular season underway, no fewer than nine former Arizona Wildcats were on the opening day NBA rosters. That figure ranks sixth nationally (see chart at right). Here is the complete list: Hassan Adams, Toronto Raptors; Gilbert Arenas, Washington Wizards; Jerryd Bayless, Portland TrailBlazers; Mike Bibby, Atlanta Hawks; Channing Frye, Portland TrailBlazers; Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia 76ers; Richard Jefferson, Milwaukee Bucks; Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks; and Luke Walton, Los Angeles Lakers. There have been at least eight former Wildcats in the NBA in each of the last nine seasons with 10 or more in six of those campaigns. Furthermore, four more former Cats are on NBA D-League rosters.
MORE UA CONNECTIONS TO THE LEAGUE: Arizona's nine former players in the Association helped the Pac-10 Conference tally 46 active NBA players, a figure that ranked third nationally. The Pac-10 was one of only three conferences (Big East and Big 12) to have each member school produce at least one NBA player. Additionally, the Pac-10's average of 4.6 alums per institution was second only to the Atlantic Coast Conference (4.8). Here is a look at the breakdown by conference: 1. Atlantic Coast, 58; 2. Big East, 49; 3. Pac-10, 46; 4. Big 12, 41; 5. Southeastern, 38; 6. Big Ten, 37.
PAC-10 PROGNOSTICATIONS: According to media members who regularly cover the Pacific-10 Conference, Arizona was picked to finish fourth in this season's Pac-10 race. The Wildcats received 241 points (see chart at left), trailing UCLA, Arizona State and USC. It's the second consecutive year in which UA was selected fourth. On a historical note, Arizona has been the preseason favorite 11 times in the last 19 years.
UP NEXT: Arizona opens the regular season on Monday, Nov. 17, against Florida Atlantic in the opening round of the Dick's Sporting Goods N.I.T. Season Tip-off. The game is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. MST and will be televised nationally on ESPNU.