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Hoops notes: Wildcats move up in polls

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Sophomore forward Kirk Walters, right, grabs a rebound from UCLA's Dijon Thompson during Arizona's 76-73 win over UCLA Saturday at McKale Center.
By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
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Following its two wins last week, the Arizona men's basketball team inched closer to the Top 10 in both major polls.

The Wildcats jumped to No. 13 in The Associated Press poll, up from last week's No. 17 ranking. They also moved from No. 16 to No. 12 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. This week's ranking marks the 295th consecutive week the Arizona basketball program has been ranked in the AP poll during the regular season.

Freshmen continue to impress in practice

The consistency of Arizona basketball being in the nation's top echelon appears to be in good hands as head coach Lute Olson said the freshman class continues to be impressive.

Olson told the media yesterday at his weekly press gathering that the freshman class defeated the upperclassmen in a scrimmage Monday.

He said forwards Jawann McClellan and Mohamed Tangara along with guard Daniel Dillion stood out for the first-year players.

Olson said McClellan's playing time in games should increase with his production in practice, but said the former Texas High School co-Player of the Year knows his time will come.

"The good thing with Jawann is he sees the big picture. He's getting better and better and better," said Olson. "In the end I think Jawann knows this experience will pay off for him at the next level."

Olson said he knows McClellan is paying attention to how Texas freshman point guard Daniel Gibson, who shared Texas High School Player of the Year honors with McClellan in 2004, is doing.

Gibson led Texas to a 75-61 upset victory over No. 6 Oklahoma State Monday night, while scoring 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Olson said McClellan continues to improve and knows that the freshman forward will continue to work into a larger role with the Wildcats.

"He played really well (yesterday in practice)," Olson said. "He's definitely going to get more playing time than he's been getting."

Stoudamire's toe shouldn't be an issue

As the season wears on, Olson said he tries to give players a bit of a break from the daily grind of practices and two games a week.

Senior center Channing Frye, senior guard Salim Stoudamire and junior forward Hassan Adams, who have all played a majority of minutes for the Wildcats, all spent Monday's practice doing conditioning drills in the training room. The trio used the underwater treadmill and did other low-resistance activities.

Yesterday, Stoudamire was released from team workouts a few minutes early to get treatment on a nagging toe injury, but Olson said the injury would not be a problem in this weekend's trip to Oregon.

"He'll be fine. If that toe was bothering him today, with the way he shot, maybe we should kick it or step on it," Olson said. "He was better today than he was against UCLA. I don't know if he missed a shot the whole time."

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