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Stoudamire is Scoring with Style
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 01/30/2005
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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By Kelli Park, Arizona Athletics Media Relations

 

The 2005 edition of Arizona men’s basketball is a team of individuals. Each athlete has unique qualities - be it passing, rebounding or lights-out shooting - that enables Arizona basketball to be the powerhouse that it is.

 

However, on this team of individuals there is one player who seems to stand out because of his personality, his talent and especially his style: senior guard Salim Stoudamire.

           

But what is it that separates this 6-foot-1 native of Portland, Ore., from the rest of his teammates? It might be his unique southpaw shot, which rarely misses. It could be his lightning-quick release or his knack for draining shots from way beyond the three-point arc. Or that, through the first 19 games of the season, he is averaging 16.8 points per game, shooting almost 60 percent from three-point range, and hitting 53 percent of his shots overall. It may even be the longer locks he’s sporting this season.

             

Sure, these statistics show that he is, without a doubt, the best shooter on the team and among the best in the nation. But Stoudamire’s stats are also a result of finally being comfortable with himself as a player and an individual.

           

As a senior, Stoudamire feels that his confidence and leadership have become his new-found strengths as a player.

 

“I have changed a lot lately just by being a starter and the guy that the team looks up to,” said Stoudamire. “When I first got to Arizona I wasn’t vocal at all. I was laid back and reserved. This year the team has done a great job of opening me up. I’m still a reserved player. I do my own thing, but at the same time I am very full of energy and I think people will see it a lot more this year. Negative energy has gotten me into trouble in the past, but now it’s different.”

           

Even head coach Lute Olson has noticed a difference in Stoudamire’s play and acknowledges his natural talent.

 

“Salim has been so team-conscious about moving the ball,” said Olson. “I told him that if he’s open, shoot the ball. It’s to the point where if he misses it, the guys are surprised. He’s just so conscious of making that extra pass and getting everybody involved. I told him he’s the best shooter in the country, and to take the shot if it’s there.”

           

While Stoudamire has become comfortable with his teammates and his style of play, he has also realized that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of him, and he has shown that he is comfortable being himself, revealing to his fans his own personal style.

 

“I have always had my hair long before I came here, when I was in high school,” said Stoudamire. “When I came to camp my first year, coach Olson would always make comments about how long it was and I never knew if he was kidding, so I cut it. But I decided that I like it natural. I haven’t cut it since the summer and I have no intentions of cutting it at all.”

           

Not only has Stoudamire grown his hair long, compared to his usual shaved look; he is the only Arizona player on the court who wears a T-shirt underneath his jersey.

 

“That is another thing that I always did in high school,” said Stoudamire. “It was originally worn because I was kind of skinny, but really because I was comfortable wearing a T-shirt. I brought it back this year for memories and to be myself the way I feel most comfortable. I think the team thinks that I’m different but that’s ok. I like to expand my horizons.”

           

So now that Stoudamire has become comfortable as a player and a person, what’s next for him in the future?

 

Well, aside from a necessary hair trim every once in a while, Stoudamire hopes to continue his career as a basketball player at the next level.

 

“I just want to play in the NBA,” said Stoudamire. “I really don’t care where but I want to continue playing basketball.”

 

One thing is certain: playing here in Tucson has been good for Stoudamire’s game, and playing under Lute Olson has helped turn him into an NBA-caliber shooter.

           

“The experience here at Arizona has been tough but it has made me a better player and a person,” said Stoudamire. “I have learned to trust my teammates, I have better overall statistics and I have become a more mature player.”

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