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Athlete of the week: Stoudamire fires away

KEVIN B. KLAUS/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Salim Stoudamire scored 53 points and shot better than 56 percent from behind the 3-point line during the last two games and nailed the game-winning shot against UCLA Saturday.
By Tom Knauer
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
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Salim Stoudamire verified his role last week as a team leader for the UA men's basketball team. Stoudamire averaged 26.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in two home victories against USC and UCLA. Stoudamire shot over 56 percent from 3-point range and hit the game-winning trey with 2.5 seconds remaining in Arizona's 76-73 win over the Bruins Saturday. For his efforts, Stoudamire received the Pacific 10 Conference Player of the Week award, his third career selection and the first for the team this season.

Stoudamire spoke to the Wildcat after practice Tuesday about returning to form, a teammate's struggles and his feelings toward the media.

Wildcat: What were some of your thoughts as you readied to shoot the 3 against UCLA?

Stoudamire: I wasn't thinking at all. I know I wanted to run the clock down, and when I saw him back off, you know, open shot. It's like a layup to me.

Wildcat: At any point did you think, 'Oh, man, I'd better make this - I want that Pac-10 Player of the Week award'?

Stoudamire: No, I just wanted to win, you know, be that tough-nosed guy who wants to take that shot.

Wildcat: In winning this award, some people might say you've emerged from a stretch when you weren't at the top of your game, both physically and mentally. How do you feel now, about both aspects of your game?

Stoudamire: I feel good. I know I haven't been myself the last two games. I hope to continue to do (well) throughout the rest of the season. Hopefully, positive things will continue to occur.

Wildcat: Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star hinted in a column last week that you need to have the ball to best help this team. How do you feel about that?

Stoudamire: I agree. (Laughs) That's been my philosophy the whole time I've been here. When (former UA guard) Jason (Gardner) was here, I was an underclassman, so I wasn't going to try and get in his way of leading the team. Now it's my turn.

Wildcat: Your teammate, Mustafa Shakur, has been criticized from many sides about what his role on the court should be this year. What sort of things have you done for him as a teammate, in this time of conflict for him?

Stoudamire: That's kind of a sensitive subject, so I try to stay away from that. Maybe later on, down the road, I might (say something). Right now, I just don't try to deal with that, because it's very touchy.

Wildcat: This is your final season at the UA. Do you feel any anxiety to cement your legacy here, as well as a pro contract?

Stoudamire: No, I'm just going out there, trying to be me within the team concept and win basketball games. And just have fun.

Wildcat: You've been tabbed as quiet and to-yourself by the media. Who do you feel you are, as a person and as a basketball player?

Stoudamire: I see myself as a misunderstood person. I'm very humble. I like to keep to myself. I don't really like talking to the media, but if it's something that's going to be positive, then I'll definitely involve myself in it.

Wildcat: Your cousin, Damon, scored a career-high 54 points for the Portland Trail Blazers last week. Has he given you any advice about moving to the pros, or what this next year will entail?

Stoudamire: No, he hasn't. But I talked to him yesterday. He asked me if I can keep what I did in the last two games up for the rest of the season, because my team's going to need me to do that. He also pointed out that I've been a scorer all my life. That's what I need to do here. Why change? I'm not a point guard or a shooting guard, I'm just a guard. I'm here to play hard.

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