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Hoops near full strength

By Maxx Wolfson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday Januay 29, 2003

Here's a scary thought for the rest of the nation: Right now No. 1 Arizona is in the best shape that it has been in all season, according to UA head coach Lute Olson.

"Barring any problems (yesterday) or (today) in practice, we should be in the best physical condition we've been in since before the season started," said Olson. "I still don't think that Luke (Walton) is better than 70 percent. Salim (Stoudamire) is conditioned to the point where he is back pretty close to 100 percent."

But Olson said he still doesn't think that the Wildcats can press an entire game, because it would take away from the offense, but he would consider using offense more than he has.

With the Stanford-Arizona series of late, being one of the best the Pacific-10 Conference has to offer, there is no talk that tomorrow's game at 6:30 p.m. in McKale Center should be any different.

"We're just trying to win a game," said Stanford head coach Mike Montgomery, who has lost the last seven of nine against the Wildcats öö but beat UA in McKale 88-82 last season.

Olson also views the game as another in a line of big contests his team has played in the last three weeks.

"They're 14-5 on the season and alone in third place," Olson said. "I don't think there is a loss in luster. Our guys know that will be a key game, and when that is over, Cal will be a big game. This is really the third week in a row that has been big time weeks for us with the L.A. schools in L.A., Arizona State and Kansas, and these two. It's a stretch of three weeks that we knew were going to be very challenging, and have been, and certainly will be."

Even with the departure of current NBA players Curtis Borchardt and Casey Jacobsen, sophomore Channing Frye said that should not take away from the rivalry.

"I don't think anything has changed, but it has grown more because we are number one. And Stanford is trying to make a name for themselves," Frye said. "They are always a tough team to play."

Montgomery said he will keep Nick Robinson in the starting lineup, even though Justin Davis is back with the team.

Davis has been out with a sprained left knee since Jan. 4, but returned Saturday against USC.

"The addition of (Justin) Davis is huge because he gives them interior scoring, shot blocking, and big-time rebounding ability," said Olson about Davis, who is averaging 10.9 points and nine rebounds per game. "Justin is a big-time athlete."

Frye said he was not going to come out and play differently against Davis because the Cardinal center is still not 100 percent.

"I remember he is a big guy and he is very agile in the post," Frye said. "I always try to go in there thinking that I have an advantage because I work harder than anybody. I just try to go out there and play my game and make the other player adjust to me."


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