Channing Frye: Experience Knows Best

Channing Frye certainly knows what it feels like to be in the NCAA tournament as he has been there every year he has played at Arizona. Now the task turns to leader for the senior center as he is excited to make a return to the madness in March, and is serving as the team's leader, guardian, and joviality. It is a one game season the rest of the way, and Frye understands what is needed.

Frye has had a very interesting past with the NCAA tournament. In his freshman year, he joined then juniors Jason Gardner, Luke Walton, and Rick Anderson, who made a strong run to the Sweet Sixteen before falling to Oklahoma. His sophomore campaign ended on the shoulders of a missed Gardner three-point shot at the buzzer in the Elite Eight against Kansas. Most recently the Cats lost in the first round to Seton Hall. This year hopes to be different for the senior who is a member of the only senior class not to make it to the Final Four.

"Last year's team, we had problems with leadership, we had problems with the defensive end," said Frye. "This year we have, hopefully, good leaders in Salim (Stoudamire), Hassan (Adams) and myself, and I think we make that effort on the defensive end and try to get better each and every game."

This leadership quality has set Frye apart from this team. The team obviously trusts his decisions, and the coaches do it as well. Frye understands and realizes the excitement that comes with being a freshman. With Arizona utilizing the freshmen talents of Jawann McClellan and Jesus Verdejo, Frye is taking on the role of a guardian for the young players, keeping them focused on the game ahead.

"I think it's definitely important (to keep the freshmen focused)," admitted Frye. "I think that's why he's (McClellan) my roommate because we just want to keep them relaxed, keep them thinking about the game, and keep them focused."

McClellan spoke about his excitement, yet he understands the importance to stay focused. "It's very tough because you want to have fun with it," McClellan said. "This is my first time in the tournament, but like I said we have to come out of here with a win, and if you keep winning you have more fun."

Frye is not the only senior to be rooming with a freshman, as I overheard that Matt Brase's roommate is Brett Brielmaier. One can assume that Salim Stoudamire's roommate could potentially be Jesus Verdejo or Daniel Dillon. The seniors seem to be responsible for keeping the excitement level to a nice even plane for the freshmen, though Frye seems to understand the need to keep players loose, and that in the end the game should be fun.

Frye was changing in his locker as he was utilizing the keen sense of humor that has made him such a charismatic individual to the media and his teammates alike. When asked how he was feeling he replied…

"I feel pretty calm, I'm kind of hungry, kind of thirsty, kind of sweaty, but I think I just try to live in the moment, and try the best that I can," Frye explained.

While Frye's younger counterparts may not have heard Frye's comments, it shows that Frye is keeping not only himself, but his teammates loose. The experience definitely comes into the picture and becomes apparent as he describes his feelings towards the game.

"If I think about the game, I'm just going to make myself go crazy," said Frye.

He appears to be having fun over anything else. In the locker room, a highlight video was being shown featuring former NBA players throwing down thunderous dunks. The Arizona players were sitting down, watching the tape. All in silence as I am interviewing Frye.

"He threw it down his mouth," exclaimed Frye.

The players suddenly came to life and began joking around and commenting on the film. Frye turned from the senior dealing with the media to the jovial individual, loosening up the team. It was a great moment for the team.

Frye has embraced his roles on the team. He is the guardian, helping along the freshmen. He is the leader of the team, as he has been all season. He is also the joviality of the entire team in a time when the players need to remain loose.

If the center of this team can uphold the roles he has been assigned by the coaches and himself, this team should feed off of it and work their way through the tournament.

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