Some things I think I think

Ithink the 2002-03 Arizona Wildcats enter the season as the favorite to win the Pac-10 Title and will certainly be among the contenders for a nation championship too. The Wildcats return its starting lineup intact, but Head Coach Lute Olson expects some changes could be in the making when practice begins Oct. 15.

I spent some time with Lute Olson this evening. We had an early dinner at one of Tucson's sushi restaurants, a place where we often grab a bite and share some basketball conversation. Today, we talked about his induction into the Hall of Fame, the upcoming marriage of his son Steve and the joy of watching his granddaughters attending his summer camp.

Lute is truly the patriarch of his family and the glow on his face when he talks about his family leaves little doubt about who comes first.

The fact that he'll skip the Hall of Fame ceremony to be at his son's wedding is the only indication one needs to tell you where his priorities lie. Steve is getting married in Italy where he's a chef and a partner in a catering business. So Lute will do a remote interview from Italy during his Hall of Fame induction the night before the wedding.

So, what else do you suppose we talked about? Basketball, of course. We talked about the upcoming season and his perception of how the playing time would be meted out.

Andre Iguodala could be a key figure in the Wildcats' success and, in fact, Lute was nothing short of ecstatic talking about the dimensions that Iguodala will add to the team.

"(Former Chicago Bulls point guard) B.J. Armstrong called me and said Andre was the best player at the Junior Olympic trials," Lute said. "He's going to be a good one."

Iguodala is 6-6, long and athletic. More importantly, he understands that to be successful he must play hard at both ends of the court. It might be that Iguodala is a better defender than he is an offensive player, and that's okay with Lute.

Iguodala played the point for his Springfield Lamphier High School team, so he can guard smaller players. He has great foot speed, but his long arms and quickness are the two biggest reasons he's a very good defender.

Hassan Adams, at 6-3 or 6-4, is not quite as big as Iguodala. But Adams is also a tiger on the defensive end and an aggressor on the offense. Lute fully expects these two freshmen to be a big part or 2002-03 lineup.

If that's the case, the odd man out could be Rick Anderson.

"Ricky is staying in Tucson all summer to work in the weight room," Lute said. "He knows he has to get stronger if he wants to play. And if he's going play, it's going to be at the four spot."

Lute expressed his concerns with Anderson being able to guard quick small forwards, a problem that plagued the Wildcats last season.

"We need somebody who can guard the quicker three (men)," Olson said. "That's where we got killed last season."

As the conversation progressed, it became more and more apparent that Lute expects Iguodala and Adams to fill the three spot while Luke Walton and Anderson play the four.

He also said Will Bynum might see less playing time this season than he did last season. It's just that Lute feels more comfortable sliding Salim Stoudamire over to the point when resting Jason Gardner.

Bynum just doesn't see the floor well. He looks to create a shot for himself rather than setting up for a high-percentage shot for a teammate who's in a better position. It seems Lute might also have more confidence in the defensive ability of Adams and Iguodala and plans to use them at the two when moving Stoudamire to the point.

All this also points to a lot of long night on the floor for Gardner who has been a real iron-man for the Wildcats during his first three season. 

Next time we get together, we'll discuss the rotation of the big men. At least, that what I think I think.

Doug Carr can be reached via e-mail at cattraxdc@aol.com

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