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Section Header
Gardner heads to front of the Pac

SUSIE LEMONT/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Senior Jason Gardner was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for his efforts during Arizona's wins over ASU and Kansas.
By Maxx Wolfson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday January 28, 2003

Who knows where Arizona would have been Saturday without Hall-of-Fame Coach Clair Bee?

Who is he, you ask?

Bee is the inventor of a little-used defense today called the 1-3-1 zone defense that he created as the coach of Long Island University back in the early 30s.

It was that same defense Bee developed years ago that gave No. 6 Kansas fits in the second half in Saturday's loss to No. 1 Arizona. It forced five turnovers before the Jayhawks even scored one point.

But Saturday's success belongs to UA head coach Lute Olson, who switched the point-man of the zone in the second half from a more conventional taller player Luke Walton to a smaller, quicker one Salim Stoudamire.

"We knew if we didn't play tough in the zone that we were going to get smashed," UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough said. "We moved Salim to the top and he covered a lot of ground at the top. This allowed Luke to play on the wings. This helped on the boards and prevented against the lob inside."

Stoudamire's ability to get back-and-forth from one side of the floor to the other and to put pressure on the perimeter guards forced Kansas into taking quick and contested shots, something that did not happen in the first half. The reason a small player is not used at the top of the 1-3-1 is because shooters are able to shoot over him, but Stoudamire's on-the-ball defense didn't allow the taller KU players Kirk Hinrich and Keith Langford to do that.

Another problem was Arizona's inability to guard Kansas one-on-one.

"The man defense didn't work out because we were getting beat off the dribble and post guys were getting in bad positions down low," Stoudamire said. "The zone really helped us because we had to defend everyone instead of a man."

Another change that Olson made was moving 5-foot-10 Jason Gardner to the bottom of the 1-3-1, a position that is better suited for a forward like freshman Andre Iguodala.

But Gardner was able to use his strength and quickness to keep the Jayhawks off the glass, to trap along the baseline, and even to disrupt 6-foot-9 Nick Collison's shot under the basket at times.

"I'm glad I don't play down there all the time," said Gardner after the game. "Hanging on (Jeff) Graves and Collison, trying to box them out and they are bumping you and that takes a toll on your body. My biggest thing was to cover the corner passes."

UA used the 1-3-1 Wednesday night only after made baskets against Arizona State, but Olson kept with it the entire second half against Kansas.

The Jayhawks were unable to adjust to the zone, and they shot only 29 percent from the field in the second half. It's not known whether or not the Wildcats will use the 1-3-1 defense again this season, or really ever, but by using it once, they've forced their opponents to prepare for it.

"Teams have to prepare for everything that we show in a game," Rosborough said. "We showed that we can play the zone defense and play it well. Teams have to be ready for it."

It looks like Saturday's match-up between the Wildcats and Jayhawks won't be the last, like Olson said last week.

After the game, Olson and Kansas head coach Roy Williams said they talked about renewing the series "immediately."

With the game's appearance on national television Saturday's was on CBS and the experience the Wildcats get playing in Allen Fieldhouse against a Big-12 team, Olson said there really are no negatives in the series between the schools.

With two outstanding games against ASU and Kansas, Gardner was named the Pac-10 Conference Player of the Week.

Gardner averaged 21.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals in the two games.

His seven rebounds might be the most remarkable stat for the Indianapolis native, who as the Wildcats' smallest player, has led the team in rebounds for the third time in the last four games.

"Jason knew that we were heading into a tough four-game stretch that would be the defining point of the season," Rosborough said. "Jason always steps up in big games and it was not surprising that he had one of his best games of the season against Kansas. In the last four years, there may not be a better big game player then Jason.

The senior opened the week by scoring a game-high 19 points to go with seven boards, four assists, and a season-high four steals in a 71-63 win over instate rival Arizona State. He followed that up with his third 20-point effort of the year in a 91-74 come-from-behind win at Kansas. In playing all 40 minutes, Gardner tallied 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.

On the year, Gardner is averaging a team-best 14.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists. It is the second time this season Gardner has been given the award, and the third time in his career.

Arizona strengthened its lead in both polls after its two victories last week.

The Wildcats received all 31 first place votes in the coaches' poll and 71 of a possible 72 first place votes in the AP poll the other going to No. 4 Florida.

California jumped from No. 25 to No. 20 in the poll, leap-frogging Oregon, which stands at No. 22.

Kevin Klaus contributed to this report.


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