By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
WESTWOOD, Calif. Ä Entering yesterday's matchup with UCLA, all eyes and expectations were on the general of the Arizona men's basketball team, senior Damon Stoudamire.
With this in mind, the Bruins threw body after body on him throughout the entire game. And in the midst of these double and triple teams, Stoudamire still scored 27 points.
Yet that barely covered his expectations.
"I'm really sick of everybody seeing Damon only score 10 points or whatever and say that he had a bad game," said UA center Joseph Blair. "It is tough to score when they are constantly keyed on and double-teamed. Damon is a great player. Period."
One of the many hyped-up comparisons coming into this game was Stoudamire vs. Tyus Edney. And while they both have the same position, Stoudamire doesn't think that it's a fair comparison.
"The media has built that up so much," Stoudamire said. "I don't care what people say about his game, I feel he is not as good as me."
UA coach Lute Olson echoed Stoudamire's annoyed feelings on the subject.
"As far as Tyus and Damon, the point guard establishes the win. Statistics are for losers," said Olson following the game. "What you do in the end is what matters."
From the opening tip-off it was obvious that Stoudamire was ready for this battle between these two Pacific 10 Conference juggernauts. Knowing that the entire UCLA team had one eye on him, he concentrated on finding the open man. But when the chips were down, he knew he had to lead their charge. After UCLA went on a seven-point run and Arizona looked a little down. Stoudamire countered with two straight threes in the midst of countless would-be Bruin defenders.
"Damon is the only player we let shoot these kind of shots," Olson said. "When he goes on a roll, he can carry the team."
And amidst a UCLA celebration with 14 seconds left, Stoudamire showed why the UA coaching staff puts their faith in his judgement. He launched a bomb from Westwood to cut the Bruin's confident six-point lead to only three. While the end result didn't go the Wildcats' way, Stoudamire still showed his poise by again hitting the big shot.
"We have one guy who always is here to play. He may have a good shooting night or a bad shooting night, but the key is that he always comes to play," Olson said. "That player is our senior leader, Damon Stoudamire."
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