Arizona Daily Wildcat
Saturday, March 12, 2005
LOS ANGELES - Two games, two blowouts and more than two prime-time scoring options as the
top-seeded Arizona men's basketball team heads into Saturday's Pacific 10
Tournament championship game, and prepares for the start of NCAA tournament
play next weekend.
Freshman wing Jawann McClellan - with the size and agility of a slimy two-guard
and the tenacity of a strong small forward - made his mark for the second
straight day for the Wildcats, scoring 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting during
Arizona's 90-59 semifinal victory over Oregon State Friday in Staples Center in
Shooting .750 from the floor and .800 during tournament play, while averaging
14.5 points over the first two rounds, the 6-foot-4 McClellan has almost
certainly snagged the coveted UA sixth man spot from junior Chris Rodgers
heading into NCAA play.
But more importantly, McClellan gives the Wildcats yet another scoring option
to go with the Wildcats big three on offense - Frye, Stoudamire and
oft-forgotten do-it-all Hassan Adams.
"You can see how they're having to play Salim," head coach Lute Olson said
after the team's second straight win by 25 or more points. Olson then went into
an Xs and Os breakdown of how teams can't manage to cover both the
sharp-shooting Stoudamire and the 6-foot-11 Frye simultaneously, without
forgetting about another of Arizona's multiple offensive weapons.
Stoudamire, Frye and Adams may have tri-handedly scored the Wildcats' first 20
points - Frye scored seven, Stoudamire eight, Adams seven of his own - to give
Arizona an early eight-point lead.
But after the Beavers cut their deficit to as few as three late in the first
half, it was the all-around play of McClellan - he created shots, crashed the
boards and seems to have settled into his role as a ready-for-prime-time player
- that allowed the Wildcats to break open the game.
"Jawann's a player. He's a big game player," Olson said. "I think Jawann
McClellan will be, next year, if not the best sophomore in the league very
close to it."
Olson may think Jawann's time to shine has yet to come, but to McClellan, that
newcomer status is long gone.
"Everybody needs to step up," McClellan said. "I consider myself no longer a
freshman. It's tournament time and coach Olson has put a lot of confidence in
So much so that McClellan's playing time over the first two Pac-10 games has
been equal to starting forward Ivan Radenovic, and greater than any other UA
"The thing is he's so quick to the boards," Olson added. "Without a doubt right
now he's our best offensive rebounder, for the number of minutes that he's
getting in there. He goes for everything .He anticipates."
Olson's right. McClellan five offensive boards through two tournament games is
second to nobody, if only tied for the team lead with Frye.
McClellan said he's happy to be playing more minutes now, but doesn't blame his
coach for not giving him more floor time earlier in the season.
"You know when you make a mistake you're not coming out right away," McClellan
said of the advantages of being able to play enough to get into a groove. "I
played a lot at the very beginning of the season until we got all the way to
conference and I think he just had to go with experience."
With one game to go before Selection Sunday hits, when the Wildcats learn
whether they'll likely earn anywhere from a one to a three seed in the NCAA
tournament, McClellan has already learned something away from the court from
his head coach: how to refer to the team's "lack of respect" among the nation's
"We'll try to get the pony express going to get the word out east that we
played well," Olson quipped.
"We have a chip on our back, McClellan added, following Olson's lead. "People
haven't shown us respect all year."