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Looking for the final piece

By Seth Doria
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 25, 1999
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Nicholas Valenzuela
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Freshman guard Ruben Douglas (5) goes up for a three-pointer against Oregon on Feb. 20 at McKale Center. UA head coach Lute Olson has called upon Douglas and fellow freshman Traves Wilson to play more consistently this weekend with games at California and Stanford.

One of the more surprising statistics from Saturday's win over Oregon was that four UA players combined to score 91 of the team's 92 points.

Jason Terry had 32 points, helping him become the Pacific 10 Conference player of the week, A.J. Bramlett had 22, Michael Wright had 19 and Richard Jefferson had 18. The only other player to score was Eugene Edgerson on a free throw with about 30 seconds left.

Most of the questions after the game were about the lack of bench production, but the players and UA head coach Lute Olson said it didn't matter. No. 7 Arizona (20-4, 11-3 Pac-10) had won the game and that was what was important.

Now, with the most crucial road trip of the season set to begin tonight against California (14-10, 5-9) and concluding with a game for the Pac-10 title against Stanford Saturday, the story has changed a little bit.

No. 7 Arizona vs. California

(20-4, 11-3 Pac-10) (14-10, 5-9)

Tipoff: 8:30 p.m. MST at the New Arena in Oakland, Calif.
TV/Radio: Televised nationally on Fox Sports Net; Broadcast on KNST (790 AM)
Game Notes: Arizona has won five games in a row overall and have won the last three against Cal including a 91-74 win in Tucson Jan. 30. . .During the first matchup, Eugene Edgerson had to be helped off the floor after receiving an elbow to the head from Cal starting center Francisco Elson. . .The Bears are the top team in the Pac-10 in turnover margin at +5.08. . .Cal leading scorer Geno Carlisle, who shot only 5 for 17 in the first matchup between the teams, will come off the bench as Cal head coach Ben Braun gives Raymond King his second consecutive start.
But Olson isn't necessarily concerned about the bench production from Edgerson or sophomore swing man Justin Wessel. Instead, he said, he needs to get some sort of consistent defensive play from one of his three freshmen shooting guards.

Ruben Douglas, Traves Wilson and Ricky Anderson have all taken turns starting and all have produced in bursts, but none of the three has played well enough consistently to stay on the floor.

Douglas, who has the most offensive firepower of the three, looked like he had nailed the job down earlier in the season with five straight starts, but his lack of concentration in practice prompted Olson to start Anderson for the next three games. Then Douglas started again, then Wilson, then Douglas two more times, then Anderson two more times.

And while Anderson is listed as the starter for tonight's game, Olson said Tuesday that was even "still up in the air."

Olson said he doesn't care about offensive production (the three combined to go 0 for 6 from the field against Oregon), just that he wants someone to put in a consistent effort on defense and not make mistakes on offense.

"If we could develop some consistency in the third perimeter spot, I think we could be pretty formidable," Olson said. "There are four spots that have been very, very solid and one spot that has been a concern for us. We need Ruben or Traves or both of them to be big-time players for us this weekend."

While Cal's record and eighth place standing in the conference suggest the team may have given up on the season, the Bears have been tough at home, winning two of their past three games at the New Arena in Oakland and coming close to beating Stanford.

But Cal, which already has wins over North Carolina, Rhode Island and UCLA, was swept by Washington State (79-73) and Washington (86-61) on the road last weekend. During the conference schedule, the Bears are 4-3 at home and 1-6 on the road.

"They've been awfully good and other games they've been awfully bad," Olson said. "The point is that the is talent there, the experience is there, the ability is there. They know they have their backs against the wall."

Things have digressed so far for Cal that coach Ben Braun will start junior guard Raymond King ahead of Wooden Award nominee Geno Carlisle, Cal's leading scorer with 15.3 points per game.

Carlisle had teamed up for one of the more experienced backcourts in the league with fellow senior Thomas Kilgore, who had 34 points and seven rebounds against Washington State.

But against the Washington schools, Carlisle went a combined 5 for 27 (18 percent) from the field, scoring only 15 points to go along with seven assists and seven turnovers. King, nicknamed "Circus" for his ability to make acrobatic shots, didn't fare much better offensively but only committed only one turnover in 52 minutes.

A transfer from San Diego State, King had one of his better games of the year at Arizona when he had nine points, four assists and two steals without a turnover in 22 minutes.

"You can't fall asleep on him or he'll blow right by you," Edgerson said.

Despite being relegated to the bench most of the season, the 5-foot-10 King is shooting 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three-point range, has 24 assists, 13 steals and only 10 turnovers.

Starting Lineups


F  44  Richard Jefferson  11.8 ppg  5.0 rpg
F  21  Michael Wright     14.3 ppg  8.8 rpg
C  42  A.J. Bramlett      14.5 ppg  9.5 rpg
G   5  Ruben Douglas       6.5 ppg  2.1 rpg
G  31  Jason Terry        22.4 ppg  5.6 apg


F 23 Carl Boyd             6.9 ppg  4.5 rpg
F 21 Sean Lampley         11.1 ppg  8.7 rpg
C 41 Francisco Elson       6.0 ppg  4.9 rpg
G 15 Thomas Kilgore       14.5 ppg  3.3 rpg
G 10 Raymond King          2.8 ppg  1.5 apg
Olson, however, did not seem to buy into the King-ahead-of-Carlisle theory.

"I would suggest that Carlisle and Kilgore would probably log more minutes than any other guard," Olson said.

If the Wildcats do get by California, beating Stanford in Palo Alto would not only put UA in the driver's seat to win the conference title, but also be a first for the team in that they haven't swept a road series yet this year.

"We just haven't been able to put two games together," Bramlett said. "But this is our last (road) weekend so we're going to have to go in there ready to play."