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Basketball notes: Cats in danger of ending consecutive Top 25 streak


Photo
Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Junior center Kirk Walters is caught off balance by Team Georgia's Alexis McMillan (11) during Arizona's second exhibition game against Team Georgia on Nov. 16 in McKale Center. Miscues like this have led to the Wildcats' 2-3 start, which is their worst since 1983, when Arizona began the year 1-6 and finished 11-17.
By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, December 6, 2005
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First-half sit-downs send message to tardy pregame diners Adams, Rodgers

When Arizona men's basketball head coach Lute Olson benched senior guards Hassan Adams and Chris Rodgers for much of the first half of the Wildcats' 69-65 loss to Houston on Saturday, it wasn't a first, even with this year's roster.

Olson has taken game time from players like redshirt senior forward Isaiah Fox and Rodgers for disciplinary issues in the past, and sat former star guard Salim Stoudamire for a game against Marquette last season.

"I'm sure they did receive the message," said Arizona assistant coach Josh Pastner of Adams and Rodgers. "That's why Coach is legendary. He's a Hall of Famer. He's a guy who brings in young people, and when they leave the program, we turn them into men, ready for life situations. There's not a better coach to be around, and this will be a great life-learning lesson."

Cats on precipice of Top 25

Thanks to their loss to the Cougars, the Wildcats dropped nine spots to No. 24 in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Arizona (2-3) is in danger of being left out of the regular-season polls for the first time in 18 years.

The team was unranked in the 1995-96 and 2001-02 preseason polls, but aside from those two occurrences, Arizona has been ranked in 308 consecutive polls.

Houston (3-1), meanwhile, garnered 101 votes in the AP, good enough for No. 27.

Radenovic nominated for weekly conference honors

Junior forward Ivan Radenovic was nominated for Pacific 10 Conference Player of the Week honors after scoring 12 points and grabbing a season-high 11 rebounds Saturday.

Radenovic is averaging 10 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season and has played in four of the Wildcats' five games.

Bad shooting stifles offense against Cougars

Arizona got off to another slow start against Houston, trailing 24-6 after missing 16 of its first 17 shots from the field.

Arizona shot 34.9 percent from the field Saturday and has shot more than 40 percent just once this season, against Virginia in McKale Center on Nov. 27.

Arizona associate head coach Jim Rosborough said after the game that he had two theories to prevent slow starts.

"I've always felt one of the things is, the first guy ... gets fouled, gets up to the free-throw line and makes his first free throw," Rosborough said. "It's been amazing in my experience over the years, that the first guy who steps up and makes his free throw, that helps, and then that is contagious for the rest of the team.

"And (second) I think ... we have to take good shots at the start and make our shots. We've been with these guys, some of them three of four years, and there are capable shooters."

"We have to score in other ways, and that's by getting into the paint and penetrating," Pastner said Saturday.

Aggressive Cougars find niche

Arizona had a season-high 21 turnovers Saturday night and has had 44 turnovers in its last four games.

Houston, however, is known for creating turnovers, ranking first in the nation in turnovers forced last season.

"They did a good job when the ball went inside," Rosborough said. "They were all over our point guards. They picked us at half court a couple of times."

Recipe for improvement

Following Rosborough's lead, Pastner said he saw plenty of things for the offense to improve on.

"We have to get more transition baskets. We have to get more up-tempo. We have to get the ball inbounded quicker. We have to rebound and outlet better," Pastner said. "We have to keep attacking and keep getting the defense on its heels so we can get more transition baskets."

The bright side

Arizona out-rebounded Houston 52-27 after being minus-7 on the boards over their first four games.

Arizona also grabbed a season-high 25 offensive rebounds in out-rebounding its opponent for the first time this season.

Pac-10 powers struggle

Aside from No. 13 Washington, which beat No. 9 Gonzaga yesterday, the leaders of the Pac-10 struggled over the weekend in non-conference games.

Stanford lost to UC-Davis, Oregon fell to Georgetown and UCLA had to come back to defeat Coppin State.

Meanwhile, the bottom of the Pac-10 prospered, as Washington State gave Kansas State its first loss and Oregon State, under just-resigned head coach Jay John, a former Arizona assistant coach, beat UNLV.

California and Southern California also won their games against Akron and Brigham Young, respectively.



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