Pacific Life Pac-10 Conference Tournament
Date: Thursday, March 13, 2003
Time: 1:20 p.m. PST
Location: Staples Center (19,282), Los Angeles, Calif.
Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries/Joe Ryan Hansen)
TV: FSN (Barry Tompkins/Dan Belluomini)
LAST MEETING: Arizona dismantled UCLA 106-70 at McKale.
BACKCOURT: UCLA has been playing better since Ray Young has moved to point guard. It isn't so much that Young is a great point guard, it is more due to the fact that Cedric Bozeman was so bad. Young plays hard on both ends and is athletic enough to pressure Jason Gardner.
Ryan Walcott will back-up Young. Walcott is not nearly the athlete that Young is, but sees the floor well and always plays hard.
Cedric Bozeman was thought to be the point guard of the future, but he doesn't have the skills to be a point guard. He doesn't see the court well, doesn't shoot well and doesn't handle the ball well.
Jason Kapono is far and away the best player on the team, although many times it looks as if he is just going through the motions. Kapono is one of the best outside shooters in the league and is a great scorer. He is a little slow of foot and is best when spotting up from behind the arc. Last year he torched the Wildcats' shorter defenders and you but in their two earlier meetings he hasn't really looked for his shot.
With Kapono getting the nod at shooting guard, Dijon Thompson finally gets to start at small forward. Thompsaon is a good scorer and is aggressive on the boards. Thompson was a player the Wildcat liked a lot in high school and is in the same mold as a Hassan Adams and Andre Iguodala, long and quick.
John Crispin now looks like the guy who will spell Kapono at the two-guard. Crispin was expected to make an immediate impact after transferring from Penn State, but has seen spot minutes most of the season.
Is Jason Gardner upset about being snubbed for Player of the Year? If he is the Bruins could be in trouble. Gardner is likely to take out his disappointment on UCLA and should be a man on a mission at the tournament.
Salim Stoudamire is playing great ball and will be called upon to guard Kapono while Luke Walton is at the three. Expect Walton to see a lot of time at the four in an effort to rest his ankle.
Lute Olson promised that the Wildcats would not leave LA a tire team, so expect all three freshmen to play a lot. All three, Iguodala, Adams and Chris Rodgers will be counted on to guard Kapono and Thompson, plus you can bet the Cats would love to get them some extra seasoning before the NCAA's.
FRONTCOURT: The Bruins lack a true center and are weak all around up front. Ryan Hollins and Andre Patterson make up the starting unit. Neither are much of a threat to the Wildcat front line, but are athletic players. Patterson is the club's second leading rebounder, trailing Kapono by less than a rebound a game. T.J. Cummings comes off the bench and gives the Bruins a wide body to throw at the thinner Wildcats. Cummings is hit or miss, he can either play great or be a complete non-factor.
Although Olson has shortened the bench, expect to see Isaiah Fox to play a lot more. The Cats want to keep everyone fresh and may need Fox over the next few weeks. Fox has lost time due to the play of Channing Frye, Walton and Rick Anderson, not due to anything he has done wrong. Fox can certainly build Olson's confidence in him.
The other three will certainly see a good amount of time, but don't expect any of them to log 35+ minutes unless the game is on the line. Walton, especially, should see his minutes dropped this weekend.
OUTLOOK: Certainly the Bruins have more to play for. Every game could be their last, while Arizona is set as a No. 1 seed in the West. Steve Lavin's tenure at UCLA appears to be at a close and he'd like to do nothing more than beat the best team in the nation. Expect the Bruins to come out pumped up and ready to try anything. That being said the Cats should win. It won't be as easy as the last two games, but your fingernails should be intact.
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