Men's Hoops: Headin' Home

By Amanda Branam
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, March 3, 2005

Senior center Frye ready for final hometown matchup vs. ASU

Channing Frye may be traveling to his hometown of Phoenix this weekend to face rival ASU, but to the UA men's basketball team's four-year starting center, hitting the couch is just as nice as hitting the court.

"I go home, jump in my boxers and sit on my couch and play with my dogs. Maybe jump in the pool," he said with a grin. "Other than that, I'm pretty much a bum when it comes to being at home."

Frye seems to be comfortable whether he's on the couch in his boxers or playing in-state rivals on their home court.

Win or lose, tough crowd or home crowd, Frye seems to look at the lighter side of the situation.

"It's going to be a lot of fun going out there and playing ASU," he said. "They're real tough at home, and the crowd - they're definitely going to be on me."

This short, one-game road trip will be Frye's last time around against the Sun Devils, his last time to play in a Pacific 10 Conference game - outside of the conference tournament - and his last time to play in front of his other home crowd.

Frye's easygoing nature takes a break when his team takes the court, especially against ASU.

In seven career games against ASU, he has averaged 15 points and six rebounds. His best game was Feb. 22, 2003, when he scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Frye takes his matchup with ASU standout Ike Diogu seriously.

In five meetings, Frye and Diogu have averaged an eerily similar line of 18.8 and 18 points, and 7.4 and 10 rebounds, respectively.

Those numbers have seemed long in the making for Frye.

He came to Tucson in 2001 from St. Mary's High School with a skinny 6-foot-11 frame and almost immediately got playing time.

He started 25 of 34 games that season and led the team with 50 blocks. He made the Pac-10 All-Freshmen team and led the conference in field-goal percentage, shooting 59.5 percent overall and 60.5 percent in Pac-10 play.

As a senior, he has started all 29 games this season, averaging 15.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He is second in field-goal percentage in conference play, leading the team on 57.6 percent shooting.

But most notably, Frye is a candidate for both the Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy, honors given to the best player in college basketball.

"He's just gotten a lot better since he got here as a freshman, and that's been true every year since he's been here," said Arizona head coach Lute Olson. "It's because of how hard he works."

Some of his best work has come recently.

Frye had one of his best weekends of his career on the road last week against the Washington schools.

In both games, the Wildcats' outside game was not happening, so they continued to pound it into Frye.

In the 57-56 overtime win Thursday against Washington State, Frye tied his then-career-high of 26 points and added eight rebounds.

Two nights later, in a loss to Washington, Frye poured in a new career-high of 30 points and grabbed five boards.

Frye stepped up and played big when the Wildcats needed him to, and his leadership continues off the court.

Sophomore forward Ivan Radenovic, who hails from Serbia-Montenegro, said that Frye has helped him find a place at Arizona in more ways than one.

"He helped me adjust to this culture and this type of basketball," Radenovic said. "He's the guy who has shown me the right way."

"I think he's a great person," Radenovic said. "Not just with players but with everybody. When people stop him on the street and ask him for autographs or ask for a picture with him, he says it's no problem."

Frye may be stopped for photographs and autographs for a long time to come if he is selected in the NBA draft in April.

For now, however, he is looking forward to a new couch at home, bringing some of the guys over to his parents' house in Phoenix and beating ASU on their home court.

And, pending a Washington loss in its last two games, clinching a conference title.