Arizona Notes: Gardner Dunks...Hard!!!

Notes from Arizona's 50-minute practice session with some big time highlights including the first public appearance of Jason Gardner's true leaping ability. Let's just say that he's a stratosphere-type jumper. For a guy five-foot-nine (on a good day), Gardner had his head even with the rim when he pounded the ball through the net.

Luke Walton and Mike Schwertly were having some fun with fellow Wildcat Jason Gardner as practice came to a close.

Schwertly put on a bit of a dunking clinic to the delight of the three or four hundred fans in attendance. As soon as he put his last dunk down (a whirling 360-degree one-hander), Walton tried to dish one of his patented passes to Gardner off the backboard for an alley-oop. It didn't work. The ball bounced over his head and some of the team began heading towards the locker room.

But, before they could get too far, Gardner said something that made his teammates stay for just one more moment. As his teammates turned around, Gardner grabbed another ball, threw it into the air, let it bounce up near the basket and then exploded off of the ground. We're talking Doug Wrenn-like lift here.

Gardner caught the ball in perfect rhythm and slammed the ball through the hoop while hanging on the rim with both hands. His head was at the rim's level as he dunked.

Immediately after his first public dunk, Gardner felt what Vince Carter must feel on a regular basis as the crowd erupted into cheers.

The other Wildcats found time to take it out on Walton, who apparently didn't think Gardner had it in him for a dunk, and somehow Luke ended up on the ground while several of his teammates stood over him, laughing.

"I can dunk," Gardner said, in the post-practice press conference. "The first time I was kind of mad because Luke threw me a really bad pass. But the next time I just went up and did it. It felt really good."

He was asked why he hadn't dunked in a game since coming to Arizona and he came back with a simple reply.

"Because I haven't needed to," he said. "I never really do it in a game so it was fun to do it today."

Other notes:
*Channing Frye practiced his left-handed baby-hooks in the lane for about ten minutes before the end of practice and had great success with it.

Earlier in the year, former Arizona legend Bob Elliott commented on Frye and how if he would develop his left hand (and a baby-hook in particular), he would become a tremendous weapon for the Wildcats.

Frye converted 26 of his 30 shots with his off-hand, and while it wasn't exactly against someone like Gonzaga's Cory Violette or Oklahoma's Jabarhi Brown, it was impressive nonetheless.

*Wildcat fans attending the fifty minute practice in the Pit may have noticed some of the arena's intracies. The home of WAC power New Mexico looked like it might have slightly lower standards for measuring greatness than its neighbor's to the West, Arizona.

Hanging high in the rafters above the Pit's floor, the Lobos saw fit to display not one, not two, but 13 NIT tournament appearance banners.

Not that it's a knock on the Lobo program, but a friend of mine from Albuquerque actually tried to brag about his Lobos' streak of seven consecutive NIT berths from 1984-1990.

Arizona won't hang a banner unless it goes to a Final Four, wins a national championship or retires a former NCAA Player of the Year's jersey.

Maybe the perfect balance lies somewhere in between the loose (UNM) and the super strict (Arizona) when it comes to hanging banners from the rafters.

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