Game 1: No. 10 Arizona (0-0) at Virginia (0-0)
Date: Sunday, Nov. 12, 2006
Time: 7 p.m. EST
Location: John Paul Jones Arena (15,219), Charlottesville, Va.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSNAZ (Bob Rathbun/Bob Elliott/Dan Bonner)
Game Data: No. 10 Arizona (0-0, 0-0 Pac-10) opens the 2006-07 season with a, 1,869-mile roadtrip to Charlottesville, Va., to take on Virginia (0-0, 0-0 ACC) ... The Wildcats have the privilege of christening (at least for basketball) UVa’s new John Paul Jones Arena ... This is the first time since 1986-87 that Arizona has opened the season with a true road game, a 92-87 loss at UNLV on Nov. 21, 1986, in the Big Apple N.I.T.
The Rankings: Arizona opens the 2006-07 campaign ranked 10th in the preseason editions of both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls. It marks the 19th time in the last 20 seasons that the Wildcats have been nationally ranked to start the season in either or both polls.
Arizona Head Coach Lute Olson . . . begins his 24th season at Arizona and his 34th overall as a college head coach with a career record of 761-269 (.739) and 569-177 (.763) at Arizona ... He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 2002 ... Olson became the 16th coach in basketball history to tally 1,000 career victories (covering all levels) on Dec. 11, 2004 ... Olson recorded his 750th collegiate victory on Dec. 31, 2005, and became Arizona’s career victories leader (510) on Jan. 17, 2004 ... He has the most Pac-10 wins (316) of any coach in league history ... Olson has the second-best conference winning percentage (.771/316-94) and second-most league championships won (11) in Pac-10 history (minimum three years), trailing only UCLA’s John Wooden (.810/304-74/16 titles) ... During his 23-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 11 Pac-10 Conference titles, four Pac-10 Tournament crowns (1988, ?'89, ?'90, 2002) and been to the NCAA Tournament for 22 consecutive seasons, 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 second-best winning percentage over the past 19 years (499-131/.792) ... In his collegiate career, Olson has produced 49 NBA Draft picks, including 30 at Arizona ?- 21 alone since 1990 ... He’s led UA to 19 consecutive 20-win seasons and has 28 overall in his career, making him one of only three head coaches in NCAA history to record 28 or more 20-win seasons... Under Olson, the Cats are 333-35 (.905) in McKale Center and have won 261 of its last 280 home games ... He is assisted by Jim Rosborough, Josh Pastner and Miles Simon.
Last Time Out: Arizona opened the game with a 26-5 run and never looked back in claiming a 111-56 exhibition win over the University of Victoria on Wednesday night. The Wildcats shot 56.7 percent from the floor, including 59.3 percent from three-point range, forced 21 turnovers, and claimed a 43-33 rebound advantage. Marcus Williams (25) and Chase Budinger (20) led four UA players in double figures on a night that saw 12 of 14 players score at least two points.
Scouting Virginia: The Cavaliers (0-0, 0-0 ACC) return seven lettermen, including all five starters, from last season’s 15-15 club that tied for seventh place in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Guards J.R. Reynolds and Sean Singletary combined to average more than 34 points, seven rebounds and seven assists per game in 2005-06. As a team, Virginia shot 41.5 percent from the field (703-of-1,692) last year and averaged 67.9 points per game. UVa defeated Augusta State, 78-63, in an exhibition game on Nov. 4.
The Series: Tonight’s game is the fourth meeting of the two schools with Arizona holding a 2-1 series advantage. Every game in the series has been decided by double figures, including last season’s 81-51 UA win on Nov. 27, 2006, in Tucson. All-time, Arizona is 1-0 in series games played in Tucson, 0-1 in Charlottesville, and 1-0 in neutral-site games. See page 102 of the Arizona basketball media guide for more series information.
Last Meeting: Arizona 81, Virginia 51, Nov. 27, 2005: For the third consecutive game to open the season, Arizona dug itself into an early hole, but this time was able to climb all the way out in a 30-point victory. UVa led 28-22 with 3:13 to go in the first half when UA responded with a 29-1 run over the next 10:43 to break it open. Chris Rodgers led the Wildcats with 20 points, including 15 in the second half, to go with four rebounds and three assists. UA shot better than 50 percent from the field for the first time in 2005-06 as 10 of 11 players to see action tallied points.
Against the ACC: Arizona holds an 18-13 (.581) cumulative record against schools that currently make up the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Cats have played four games against ACC foes over the past two seasons, including the pair against Virginia, and will host North Carolina on Jan. 27.
For Openers: Arizona has a record of 79-20 (.798) in season openers (results are unavailable for four seasons), including a 20-3 (.864) mark under Lute Olson. All-time, the Wildcats are 59-12 at home, 10-8 on the road and 9-0 in neutral-site games.
In November: Fast starts are the norm for the Cats under Lute Olson. Over the last 23 years, Arizona is 53-14 (.791) in the month of November. The numbers become even more impressive considering the quality of competition Olson typically schedules to prepare his squads for the conference season. Prior to this season, 26 of the Wildcats’ 64 games (41 percent) in the month of November under Olson have been against ranked teams. Olson’s clubs have gone an impressive 18-8 (.692) in such contests.
Exhibition extrapolations: With two exhibition games under its belt, Arizona not only managed to top the 110-point plateau in both wins, but also won those games by more than 50 points. Admittedly, exhibition games mean absolutely nothing, but over the last seven seasons (dating back to the start of the 2000-01 campaign) UA did not win a single exhibition by as many as 50 points and scored as many as 111 points only three other times in 14 outings. Such excitement could be tempered by the fact that last season’s club scored 100 points in each game, won by an average of 31.5 points and went on to post a 20-13 record.
That’s a Good Sign: Points in any variety are a good sign for a team that averaged just 73.7 points per game last season, which was the lowest since the addition of the three-point field goal in 1986-87, and certainly Arizona’s 118.0 points per game average against exhibition opponents is cause for optimism. The Wildcats featured a balanced attack with six players averaging nine or more points and 10 averaging 10 or more minutes played.
Shooting Straight: Lute Olson has steadfastly maintained that the 2006-07 edition of the Arizona Wildcats would be a much better shooting team than the previous squad, which posted the lowest field goal percentage in the Olson era at 44.6 percent. If the exhibitions are any kind of example, Olson will be correct. In the two games against outside competition, UA has connected on 54.2 percent (83-of-153) of its field goal attempts. Of the seven players to average at least five FGA per game, five are shooting better than 50 percent from the field. The team leaders in the exhibition games, freshmen Chase Budinger and Nic Wise, have combined to hit 64.6 percent (31-of-48) of their field goal attempts.
Behind the Arc: Arizona’s improved shooting in the preseason isn’t limited simply to field goal attempts, the Wildcats are actually shooting better from three-point range early on. In its two exhibitions, Arizona posts a 55.6 field goal percentage (30-of-54) on its three-point FG attempts. Incidentally, junior Jawann McClellan (6-of-6) has yet to miss from three-point range. Wednesday against the University of Victoria, Arizona sank 16-of-27 shots (.593) from behind the arc.
A Measure of Improvement: After posting the first negative rebound margin (-0.3) last year for the first time since 1986, the Wildcats have done a better job of controlling the boards to date. During the exhibition season, Arizona outrebounded the opposition by a +9.0 margin. What might be best about the effort is the fact that it’s a balanced effort. Eight players averaged four or more rebounds per game in the two exhibitions.
Forcing Turnovers: One thing that hasn’t changed from last season is the ability to force turnovers. Arizona opponents have turned it over 44 times in the two games, a figure that is 17 fewer than UA has committed. Assisting the cause are Arizona’s 19 steals. Last year, UA ranked 11th nationally with an average of 9.76 steals per game.
Back At It: Sophomore forward Marcus Williams didn’t miss a beat in returning from an ankle injury, as he tallied 25 points, four rebounds and six assists in 25 minutes against Victoria. He connected on 9-of-15 field goal attempts, including 2-of-3 from three-point range.
Point Taken: Mustafa Shakur will take some gaudy numbers into the regular season, as the 6-foot-3 point guard has averaged 9.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 12.5 assists in the two exhibition game. In 54 total minutes played, the Philadelphia native has 23 assists against only four turnovers. His assist total is equal to that of the opposition in the two exhibition tilts.
Steady: Junior Daniel Dillon quietly continues to play his way into the regular rotation. Against Victoria, the 6-foot-3 guard from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, amassed nine points and five assists in 19 minutes. During the preseason, Dillon averaged 12.0 point and five assists per game (second on the squad), while shooting 47.4 percent from the field.
Efficient on the Wings: The duo of Chase Budinger and Jawann McClellan proved to be remarkably efficient against Victoria, combining to hit 11-of-13 field goals, including 7-of-8 from three-point range, to go with five rebounds, six assists and three steals. Budinger (20) and McClellan (13) managed to produce 33 total points from those 13 field goal attempts.
Don’t Overlook Nic: Though he may be the smallest player on the court, don’t count out the contributions of Arizona’s 5-foot-9 freshman guard. The Kingwood, Texas, native knocked down a team-high nine treys in the preseason, shooting 64.3 percent, and led the Cats with an overall FG percentage of 70.0 (14-of-20). He also led the club on the defensive end with five steals.
Preseason Prognostications: According to media members that regularly cover the Pacific-10 Conference, Arizona was picked to finish second in this year’s Pac-10 race. Arizona received 13 first-place votes and 280 points overall and trailed only UCLA in the poll. It is the firs time in five seasons that Arizona has not been selected as the preseason team to beat. Incidentally, the Cats have been the preseason favorite in 11 of the last 17 seasons.
Preseason Kudos: Mustafa Shakur and Marcus Williams were named to the 2006-07 John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-America team, the award’s national selection committee announced Oct. 17. Shakur, a 6-foot-3, senior guard from Philadelphia, and Williams, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward from Philadelphia, are among 50 student-athletes on the list. Arizona is one of only nine schools nationally to have two or more players on the list.
Early Signees: Coach Olson and his staff signed five student-athletes to National-Letters-of-Intent during the November early signing period. Jerryd Bayless (G, 6-3, 193) from Phoenix, Ariz., St. Mary’s High School; Jamelle Horne (F, 6-7, 205) from San Diego, Calif., San Diego High School; Alex Jacobson (C, 7-1, 223) from Santa Ana, Calif., Mater Dei High School; Zane Johnson (F, 6-6, 200) from Phoenix, Ariz., Thunderbird High School; and Laval Lucas-Perry (G, 6-1, 191) from Grand Blanc, Mich., Powers Catholic High School, will join the squad next fall.
Up Next: The Wildcats return to Tucson for their home opener against Northern Arizona on Wednesday, Nov. 15. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MST and will be televised by FSN Arizona.