Jason "Freebie" Gardner
After the NBA told him he would not be drafted, Jason "decided" to return to Tucson for his junior season. Much like our own Casey Jakes, Freebie has been asked to carry the scoring load and has done so, at the expense of his FG%. About as steady of a point man as you can ask for, Gardner is shifty when he gets inside and can get on a roll from beyond the arc. He has been known to jack up ill-advised shots, especially during key moments, but Arizona lives and dies by his play.
Salim "Not Damon" Stoudamire
A true freshman and already automatic from the FT line, Salim made a run at Ryan Mendez' Pac-10 record of 49 straight, falling short at 42. Stoudamire earned a starting position by being the team's defensive stopper, and will most likely draw the assignment of defending Jacobsen. His jump shot has an awkward release that has him hitting at a 43% clip from downtown, which is better than his 2-point shooting. Don't expect him to follow in Mighty Mouse's footsteps; Salim doesn't possess his cousin's ball control skills to play the 1.
Channing "Small" Frye
Among the league-leaders in FG%, Frye brings a soft touch to his game, matched only by the softness of his inside play. A sleek 220, Channing tries to beat his man with spin-moves and outside jumpers, and rarely backs his man down. The finesse game might work on offense, but on defense, Frye gives up a lot of size and a lot of points. It isn't his fault that 'Zona doesn't have a true center, but Channing is definitely suited to be a 4.
Luke "Bass" Walton
A guard in a forward's body, Luke is everything his father was not. Bass has proven to be the Kittens MVP by dishing assists, grabbing boards and injecting intensity into his teammates. Walton even added a fade away jumper to his scoring arsenal, but still struggles to knock down the open trey. Luke had a triple-double in leading the Cats to their record setting, comeback win vs. UCLA and thrives in Lute's small-ball, open court attack. Along with Freebie, Bass brings a veteran presence to the floor, and plays a big part in determining the Mildcat's success.
Ricky "Hang-Ten" Anderson
I never thought I would see the day when surfer boy cracked the starting line-up, but here he is. Like most of his interior teammates, Rick does not like to bang. In fact, he prides himself on the development of his 3-point shot (which he can hit consistently) more than his post-play. Although Anderson grabbed a career-high 13 boards against kal, he is not a threat on the glass. Arizona's style of play usually limits his touches inside, but when the ball goes into him, he looks to pass first, shoot second. Ricky is notorious for getting frustrated and committing silly fouls. Look for this to be a factor if the notorious Pac-10 ref's are on their game.
Has a tendency to get lost on the court, but generally plays solid defense. Offense is sporadic and streaky.
The ONLY guy who likes to get physical down low, Fox eats up space and minutes while in. Unless he has success taking the ball up against C-Bo, don't look for Fox to get much playing time.
When Arizona has the ball, look for Jason to try and penetrate and dish. If he can't get by TG/JB, he will defer to Walton. Luke will try and move from sideline to sideline, looking for a seam to Frye. He can't be allowed to do so, or Channing will get into a scoring position too easily. If and when both of those options break down, the Cats like to swing the ball around the perimeter until one of the shooters feels like they have an open look. The Cats have the weapons to erase even a double-digit lead, so Stanford's defenders must not let up at any time and make Arizona work hard to get open.
When Stanford has the ball, look for the Card to exploit the mismatches. The first option should be Curtis inside. In the past, Lute has been able to take away our inside game by collapsing his wings. If he tries to do so with Salim and Will, Casey and JB need to make them pay, both by putting it on the floor and by nailing the open look from deep. If either JB or CJ are having an off game, Childress could be primed for a career day going up against Walton. No way will Luke be able to stop Josh off the dribble, so look for that patented baseline drive and slam.
Since Arizona's "big men" are tailor made for pressing, Stanford better be ready for it at any time. Hopefully last week's debacle and subsequent practice time has taken care of that problem.
Stanford fans are still waiting for that game when the Card can put it all together. With the new line-up adjustments in place, we are on the right path. If all of our scoring threats are playing at or near their potential, there is no way Arizona can hang. Casey is back and the stretch run towards 4 straight conference titles begins now. We smoke these guys; 80-69.