Long road for Anderson

Rick Anderson will leave Arizona as a player known more for his changing looks and penchant for getting into Lute Olson's doghouse than for his contributions on the court. Anderson has endeared himself to the fans as much for his various hairstyles as his sweet jumpshot. As his career winds down, things haven't always been easy, but they sure have been fun.

Rick Anderson, who seems to change hairstyles every month, has spent as much time getting yelled at by Olson as he has in the barber chair.

The road to senior day has been rough for Anderson, but it has been worth it.

"I wouldn't change a thing," Anderson said. "I love Arizona and being a part of this team."

Change has been the norm for Anderson at Arizona. Not just his look but his role and even his position. Every step of the way has been a twist and turn for the Long Beach native. In fact it was difficult for Anderson to even come to Arizona in the first place.

Anderson seemed like a natural to become a Wildcat. He was a well-regarded SoCal swingman with a sweet shot. His father played for Olson and heartily endorsed his former coach. Anderson visited Tucson along with Richard Jefferson and Luke Walton, knowing full well that the Cats would add just two of them. Jefferson pulled the trigger early and with the knowledge that Walton was visiting Princeton, Anderson decided to trip to Missouri.

A funny thing happened. Walton went back to San Diego, canceled his trip to the Ivy League school and phoned the Wildcats to commit. Anderson was left out. Or so it seemed. Anderson pleaded his case. He wanted to be a Wildcat. In the end the coaches, with the okay of Jefferson and Walton, signed Anderson on the condition he would redshirt.

Anderson could have gone elsewhere and been in the mix. Instead he chose Arizona with the intention to be shelved. Of course, Walton broke his foot and Anderson was pressed into duty.

Change was the norm for Anderson. From redshirt candidate, to contributor, back to redshirt. Following the 2000 season, a season capped with a loss to Wisconsin where Anderson had one of his best games, Anderson chose to redshirt. The then-sophomore saw the writing on the wall and knew with Walton, Jefferson and Gilbert Arenas on the wings, his minutes would be limited, so he sat out the 2001 season.

He may not have played a minute in 2001, but he was a key piece to the Final Four puzzle. Wildcat coaches praised him for his role in practice. Not only was Anderson sitting out, but he was learning to play in the post. The stringbean wing forward was going up against 7-1 Loren Woods everyday in practice and gave the future NBAer all he could handle.

Last year Anderson became a starter at the four spot. He gave up a lot of weight, but hit the glass hard and was a threat inside and out. He was vital in early season wins over Maryland and Florida and was a solid contributor.

Despite playing well all season, many speculated that Anderson lose his job to Andre Iguodala or Dennis Latimore. That didn't happen. Instead Latimore left the program and Iguodala has had to settle for a role off the bench. Anderson is averaging in double figures and is the team's second-leading rebounder.

That said, Anderson has received the brunt of Olson's wrath. He has trouble concentrating and Olson has had to "reinforce" his point louder to Anderson than he has had to for other players.

"Ricky will tell you that I've been tougher on him and he'd be right," Olson said. "I've had to be tougher on Ricky because he doesn't always focus like he should."

Anderson has been suspended twice, most recently this season against Davidson. Although the reasons have not been made public, it can't be a coincidence that Anderson hurled several expletives toward the LSU crowd in the Cats' 66-65 loss to the Tigers.

Anderson keeps things light. He is the quintessential California surfer and his quirky personality keeps his teammates laughing.

Maybe most fun for the Cat fans has been Anderson's various looks and hairstyles. Anderson has had long hair and short hair. He's bleached his hair, added blonde highlights and kept it his natural brown. He has boasted a soul patch, a goatee and even tried to grow a mustache this season that didn't exactly rival that of Tom Selleck.

Despite the fact that he and Olson have had many heated moments, you get the impression that Olson will genuinely miss Anderson. Talking about some of Anderson's mental lapses, Olson cracks a smile so wide that you'd never guess that when it occurred the coach turned bright red while screaming at his player. ANDERSON CAREER HIGHS
Points: 19
Rebounds: 14
FG: 8
FGA: 16
3PT: 2
3ATT: 6
FT: 7
FTA: 9
AST: 5
STL: 2
BLK: 4
MIN: 38

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