Stanford @ Arizona 1/30/03
Tip-off: 5:30 pm (PST)
TV: Fox Sports Net
Sponsored by the The Cafe at the Arrillaga Alumni Center: Official Pre-Game Hangout of The Bootleg
Hi, Cardinalmaniacs™! It's "Simon Sez" returning to tell you guys about the team in my new hometown, the Arizona Wildcats. After living in Palo Alto my whole life, I enrolled at University of Arizona this fall and am now writing about the Wildcats for Cattracks.net. While I have been able to keep up with Cardinal Hoops, it is not as easy as I would have thought. I was able to catch both LA schools last weekend and the Xavier and Florida games on ESPN, but have not been able to catch many others. I keep in touch with Bay Area friends though and have a pretty good feel for how the Cardinal is doing. Anyway, this Thursday's opponent is the mighty Arizona Wildcats. When I got to campus I knew the team would be good, but this team is truly amazing. They often struggle to put an entire game together, but with four sophomores, three of whom are playing big minutes, it is expected. Even with the team often playing down for parts of the game it hasn't hurt them too badly. Their only loss was to LSU in December, though that game was played without Luke Walton, and Salim Stoudamire played for just six minutes while recovering from a high ankle sprain. All college basketball fans know how much those two can do to change a game. The Wildcats have many weapons as everyone knows, but as many teams have shown this year, teams can play with them. Stanford would have to play a great game to beat the Wildcats in Tucson, but it is not out of the question. Here is a detailed rundown of the key Wildcats:
#22 PG Jason Gardner - 5'10" 185
He has become a real warrior this season, even more than years before. He played all forty minutes in an exhausting Kansas game and hit the big shots against Texas here earlier in the year. Jason's stats are down this year but that is largely due to the abundance of talent around him. His shooting percentages are down, and I hate to say it, but it seems that in the "smaller" games he doesn't seem to have the same drive he has in the bigger games. With Stanford being his biggest rival in his career at Arizona I expect him to bring his "A" game vs the Card. Jason has gotten bigger this year, putting on about ten pounds of muscle last off-season. He is pretty bulky for a point guard, but his speed is still there. His turnovers are usually very low but he has had his games where he is careless with the ball. His defense still isn't exactly lock-down, so if Julius Barnes' three-point shot is on he can definitely have a good game.
#20 SG Salim Stoudamire - 6'1" 180
Salim has definitely been up and down this year but some of it hasn't been his fault. Salim had a high ankle sprain earlier in the year and just recently has become 100 percent. Everything culminated on Saturday as he scored 32 points against Kansas and was lights out from the field. He is defiantly as good of a shooter as there is in college basketball. While most spot up shooters don't have much penetration, Salim can take the ball to the basket and has assumed the backup point guard role. Matt Lottich on Stoudamire could be real bad news for Cardinal fans, and I would really not recommend it. On top of everything, Salim remains the top defender, which could affect Lottich's looks. Monty definitely has his hands full at the two guard this game, but from what I have seen this season Lottich often gets beat off the dribble. Nick Robinson believe it or not might be a good matchup on Salim, but I doubt that would happen. Stoudamire is definitely the game breaker for Arizona with his three-point shooting. One of Stanford's top priorities should be stopping him as he can build leads in a hurry.
#4 SF Luke Walton - 6'8" 241
Luke like Salim has been slowed this year by an ankle injury. In Walton's case though this has happened four times this season, which has been frustrating for the team. He has been a shell of himself compared to last year, often looking to pass when he has an open lane or a shot. Lute says he is at 70 percent, which is about accurate, but this is not the same Luke Walton I saw at Maples last year slipping through the lane for shots and hitting wide open teammates at ease. It seems like the game is not coming to him like it did last year. By March he should be much better but with Josh Childress' quickness and moves to the hoop, this is a matchup that Stanford could definitely take advantage of. That coupled with Childress' long arms in the passing lanes might limit how effective Walton's passing is. He is only going for about 20-25 minutes a game with Lute constantly asking if he wants to come out of the game for a blow. Don't get me wrong, Walton is still a very good player, but everyone expecting the 1st Team All-American might have to wait until March.
#33 PF Rick Anderson - 6-9" 225
Rick Anderson was a guy who took the season by storm in the beginning, putting up big games in team scrimmages and early season games. Everyone thought that this would be his breakout season, but after the fast starts he has settled into a role player for this Arizona team. He lost his starting spot earlier in the year and was tried out as a 6th man but that didn't help him either. He has range in his jump shot but he can't take anyone off the dribble so it seems to be rarely used. When Walton gets his legs back, he could have more looks, but right now most Arizona fans here are happy when he gets double digits. He has been much better on the boards this season and has provided senior leadership to the wealth of young talent on the team. Don't expect him to be a game breaker but he is valuable to this Wildcat team with his rebounding and timely shooting.
#45 C Channing Frye - 6'11" 235
Frye, like almost every other Wildcat, has had an up and down year. He started the season as the starter, later yielding to an up-and-coming Isaiah Fox. Then when Fox started to slow, Frye took over again and has seemed to hit his stride. His half hook seems to be his move, and with his seven foot frame and long arms, it is tough to stop. He still gets pushed around by bigger big men (Rob Little) and sometimes gets in foul trouble. He has a mid range jumpshot that no Cardinal fan can forget after his shooting last year at Maples. Frye is a player that could give Little problems with his speed, but on the other hand, Little could take advantage of Frye with his strength. Little just needs to stay out