UA guards against letdown

By Kevin Clerici
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 26, 1996

Northern Arizona has seen what Arizona is capable of after the Wildcats beat North Carolina by 11 points on the road.

Now it's the Lumberjacks' turn to play the 11th-ranked Wildcats (1-0 overall), and NAU may be facing a buzzsaw.

Northern Arizona (0-1) will meet Arizona for the 112th time tonight at 7:30 at McKale Center. Any presumptions that Arizona might not be up for tonight's game were erased following Saturday's trip home.

"(Sunday) was one of the best practices this year," UA head coach Lute Olson said. "Coming off a big game and traveling all day Saturday, practice is usually a little flat. But it has a lot to do with the confidence level of these guys, especially the young players."

It is the young players, such as freshman guard Mike Bibby, who gained the most from the Wildcats' season-opening win. It is also the young players who will have to make sure they keep up the intensity going in every game.

"Now is the time to get better with each practice, to make our point," Bibby said.

NAU lost to Cal-State Sacramento 75-65 on Nov. 22 and is looking to end a 16-game losing to streak to the Wildcats. The Lumberjacks have not beaten Arizona since 1968, a 76-73 win in Flagstaff. NAU starts four players from last year's 6-20 squad, led by senior forward Scott Taylor.

"They are a tempo team," Olson said. "We are expecting them to try and get us to play at their tempo. That will be good experience for us. Other teams that we face will want to do the same thing."

Arizona will again be without the services of junior Miles Simon, who is still suspended, pending a decision on his academic standing.

With a guard missing, Olson has had 6-foot-11 A.J Bramlett working at the small forward position, a spot that handles the ball more often. This enables newcomers Eugene Edgerson and Bennett Davison to get more playing time at power forward.

"Rather than get Gene, who has had to face everything as new to him, confused, we worked with A.J. at the three position offensively," Olson said. "It gives us a little more flexibility."

Olson said he would have liked to play Edgerson more against North Carolina, one of the reasons for Bramlett's possible move.

"It's a little bit of a stretch," Bramlett said. "I have learned some of the plays in practice the last few days to see what the number three guard runs. Coming into the season they said that it might be an option, so it was always in the back of my mind. I am enjoying it so far. It allows for Gene and Donnell and me to be out there at the same time. It gives us some size against some of the smaller teams that we will face."

NAU is not one of them. Taylor is 6-8 and Casey Frank is 6-9, 225 pounds.

"They run the court well, but we don't expect that they are going to run it down and put it up very quickly," Olson said.

The Lumberjacks use man-to-man and a 2-3 zone on defense, and both teams run a motion offense.

Arizona's Michael Dickerson took advantage of a similar defense for a career-high 31 points against UNC. Dickerson's seven three-pointers tied a school record shared by Damon Stoudamire, Matt Othick and Craig McMillan.

Guard Jason Terry played a team-high 39 minutes against North Carolina, finishing with nine assists and four turnovers.

"Thirty-nine minutes is a lot, but if we had any questions about conditioning, they were pretty well answered," Olson said. "I think we are in pretty good shape at this time of the year."