By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, February 4, 2005
If anyone was unsure the Arizona men's basketball team would be ready to play against California last night, they were proven wrong real quick. The Wildcats ended the game before Cal could even take a breath.
Arizona jumped on the Golden Bears with an 11-0 run over the first 4:23 of the game, keeping the fans standing up and the California bench sitting down.
"This just wasn't the right game to play us," senior center Channing Frye said. "We just wanted to come out and make a statement."
Senior guard Salim Stoudamire scored the first points of the game, draining a 3-pointer in the first 11 seconds, and the Wildcats did not look back. Guard Mustafa Shakur followed up the three with a layup and then proceeded to dish out seven first half assists.
"We just shared the ball from start to finish," Shakur said.
Even after Cal finally scored, the intensity level did not decline. Arizona answered Dominic McGuire's basket with a 17-5 run, keyed by the defense of forward Hassan Adams, who led the team with four steals.
Frye also bounced back from his poor effort against Washington State on Saturday. He scored eight of his 20 points in the first eight minutes.
"It's probably the best start we've had in a while," he said.
Arizona did break down for a short period at the close of the first half, when California cut the lead to 13. However, the Arizona seniors did not let the game get any closer.
"We had to cut that out real quick," Frye said. "Coach was getting mad at us and we were getting mad at ourselves because we felt we were up by more and we felt the momentum slipping ... and we tried to pick it up on the defensive end."
The Wildcats did pick it up, starting the second half on an 18-6 run capped by another Stoudamire 3-pointer. Stoudamire, who scored only six points in the teams' last meeting Jan. 6, did not let the California defense bother him this time. "We got great looks," Shakur said. "Salim was finishing as usual."
"Salim's very, very bright, and has a great feel for the game," Olson said.
Finishing hasn't been the problem for Arizona, but starting games and holding onto intensity has been a problem. After a poor showing against Washington, Arizona learned it's lesson.
"I think the intensity started on Monday when we came out to practice. We came out focused, we came out ready, and we just wanted to come out and play Arizona basketball," Frye said.
This time, Arizona wasn't going to take anyone for granted. The runs they made were meant to be reminiscent of the 1987-88 Arizona team, inspiration Olson used before the game. The Wildcats have had nine runs of over 16 points this season.
"I think everybody came out focused today because of (the Washington State) loss, but I think it has to be that way every game," Shakur said. "We have to come out on the same page as a team."