No breather vs. Marathon

By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
December 3, 1996

Gregory Harris
Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA forward A.J. Bramlett, right, has picked up some of the slack left over from the loss of guard Miles Simon. Bramlett scored 18 points in the Wildcats' loss to New Mexico last Saturday.


For many teams, an exhibition game gives them a chance to get some game time to players who wouldn't normally play a lot. When the 15th-ranked Wildcats (2-1) square off with Marathon tonight at 7:37 in McKale Center, however, they will be using this game as another learning experience for their young team.

"We will approach this game differently than other exibitions in the past," UA coach Lute Olson said. "We will play it like a regular game situation and give a lot of time to our top seven guys."

Two players that have been leading Marathon are 6-11 center Greg Butler and former Arizona guard Dylan Rigdon, who played for the Wildcats from 1992-94. Butler is a big man that is more effective shooting the 15-foot jump shot, whereas Rigdon is a spot-up outside shooter.

"They tend to do a good deal of pick-and-roll plays," Olson said. "But instead of rolling in, Butler rolls out for the face-up shot, which he can hit. Dylan had tremendous success in New Zealand and is still a dangerous outside shooter like he was when he was here."

The Wildcats will look to move the ball inside more, meaning sophomore A. J. Bramlett will need to keep his game up to the level he reached against New Mexico. Bramlett turned in an 18-point performance in his Albuquerque, N.M., homecoming.

"We need to keep rebounding well and work on getting open like we did against New Mexico," Bramlett said. "We also need to improve our defensive pressure, especially against their big man."

Arizona forward Michael Dickerson is now realizing he is a marked man on the court. Averaging 27.3 points in three games, Dickerson is now going to be the focal point for opposing defenses.

"Obviously, New Mexico scouted us hard," Dickerson said. "It seemed they had a counter for every one of our plays. And to their credit, they did a good job of forcing me into some bad shots."

After Arizona's poor outside shooting performance against New Mexico - the Wildcats were 3 of 16 from three-point range - the team will look to improve in many areas.

"New Mexico had outstanding team quickness from the perimeter and that contributed to that (the poor shooting)," Olson said. "But I think that our shot selection needs to be improved.

"I think our perimeter defense also hurt our shooting because we didn't get as many transition baskets. We need to pressure the shooter more."

Even after the Wildcats' seven-point defeat at the hands of New Mexico, the UA coaching staff is looking at the game in a positive light.

"As I said before the game, I think this game will be a good experience for us whether we won or lost," Olson said.

"Basically, one team played like veterans and the other played like a young team."

For the leaders of the team, one plus from the game was how the team battled back every time the Lobos jumped out to a lead.

"The big thing for me is that we don't get our head down if we aren't doing as well," Dickerson said. "And I'm proud of the guys because they never gave up."

While New Mexico was a talented perimeter team, there's no hiding the advantage of playing in The Pit.

"I think the biggest factor in the game was the home-team atmosphere," Olson said. "It's pretty much unlike any other place I've ever played because they get 18,000 fans and still have the college atmosphere. It also has a tremendous effect on the officiating.

"The crowd boos every call against them, obvious or not. And unless you have a really strong officiating crew, it's tough to think it does not have an effect."

With Arizona having such a young team, this tough nonconference schedule could hurt its confidence. However, the players think it will be benificial to them come March.

"Our goal is to be ready for the NCAA Tournament in the long run," Dickerson said. "And playing these tough teams can only help us in that regard."