Growing Pains

December 11, 2005

(at UA 75, NAU 66)
(at UA 73, St. Mary's 61)

If this year's basketball team were a human life, he would be about 14 right now. Lots of potential, but a ton of visible blemishes and still awkward around the ladies of easy victory.

It was an interesting couple of dances. Some things were the same, and some things were different.

Same: Chris Rodgers lining the dog house with bricks. Two of nine vs. NAU (all threes), and one of six vs. St. Mary's.

Different: Kirk Walters was five of seven for 13 points against NAU with three blocks and some strong dunks, but he only played 17 minutes and took two shots against St. Mary's.

Same: Mustafa Shakur's stuggles. No points against the Lumberjacks, no assists against the Gaels. Somewhere Mike Bibby is weeping.

Different: J.P. Prince looked like the next Steve Nash against NAU with ten assists to only one turnover. But against SMC he only played eleven minutes and didn't drop one dime.

Same: Marcus Williams the scorer. A combined 31 points on 12 of 23 shooting including a relieving six of eight from the charity stripe. Add the sweet '80s mustache and this guy deserves all the minutes he gets.

Different: Hassan Adams scored an inefficient 21 points on 18 shots against NAU, but he was dominant against St. Mary's. A season-high 27 points on just 14 attempts thanks to ignoring that pesky three-point line, getting to the free throw line, and knocking down nine of twelve there. Add eight rebounds and five steals and he was just the type of player we need the rest of year (minus the six turnovers).

Same: We still can't shoot.

Hey guys, I've got an idea….QUIT SHOOTING THREE-POINTERS!!!

Lute said it himself during halftime of the St. Mary's game. There's a reason our players are being left that wide open behind the arc. There's no shame in taking one hard dribble and pulling up for the 16-footer. There's absolute pride in taking it all the way to the rim and dunking or drawing a foul.

We can't ignore how good a defensive team this is. NAU had 21 turnovers and SMC coughed it up 24 times. We had 22 steals on the weekend. Rodgers especially is an amazing on-ball defender. We just have to be honest about our offensive capabilities.

What's the basketball version of three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust? That's what we need to do. Pass more, drive more, shoot more free throws.

Radenovic is 7-14 on threes for the year so he gets the green light, when he's open and in rhythm. Everyone else gets a red light, a speeding ticket, and a boot.

We're shooting 45% from two-point land. That's not setting the nets on fire, but with all the turnovers we cause it'll get the job done.

Another positive: How about the emergence of Ivan the Rebounder? He's led the team in board work the past three games (averaging ten a game) and he's been the Wildcats' high man four of seven games (a 7.8 rebound average overall). He's got 22 offensive boards (the same number as Hassan) and a nice scar on his forehead. Who's Euro-soft now?


We interrupt this round-ball talk for a little football.

It's December so it must mean it's time for the Pac-10 to draw the short BCS straw. Be it rules, or formulas, or rigged votes to appease begging coaches, whenever there's a team to be excluded, it always seems to come from the Pacific-10. 2005 Oregon, welcome to the club.

Here's a quick rundown of the other bruised members of this shamed fraternity:

-2004 Cal (10-1, voters drastically change final poll, Texas gets Rose Bowl, AP pulls out of BCS)

-2003 USC (11-1, #1 in both polls, 3rd in BCS. Oklahoma doesn't even win Big 12 and plays for championship, gets beat in title game, split national championship)

-2001 Oregon (10-1, Pac-10 champs, #2 in both polls. Nebraska doesn't even win Big 12 and plays for championship, gets destroyed in title game)

What have we learned? 1) Don't finish with one loss in the Pac-10. 2) BCS must stand for Big-12's Constant Savior.

What are we wondering? Considering this is the second time Oregon has gotten left out, why hasn't Phil Knight bought the BCS yet?

I hereby give all five Pac-10 bowl teams permission to royally run up the score in the final games. We don't need any Cal vs. Texas Tech this year. We need some UA vs. UCLA-type numbers.

If the Sunshine Boys want to lose to Rutgers, I suppose I could get over it, but five really ugly scores in favor of the West Side would be fine by me.

Only 52 days till Signing Day.


Back to the sport at hand.

The significance of Hassan Adams returning for his senior year (besides the whimpering of backboards and rims throughout the Pac-10) is the huge stamp he stands to leave on the UA record book. If Hassan merely matches his statistical totals from last year he'll become the only player on the Arizona career top-ten lists for points, rebounds, steals and blocks.

Mr. Adams is already on the steals list and so far this year he's passed Mike Bibby and Damon Stoudamire to move into 7th place among all-time Cat burglars.

Here are the complete top-ten lists if you want to follow along at home this year:

2555 Sean Elliot
2125 Bob Elliott
1984 Jason Gardner
1960 Salim Stoudamire
1925 Khalid Reeves
1849 Damon Stoudamire
1791 Michael Dickerson
1789 Channing Frye
1765 Al Fleming
1664 Miles Simon

1403 Hassan Adams

1190 Al Fleming
1083 Bob Elliott *
975 Channing Frye
861 Anthony Cook
837 Bill Reeves
832 Michael Wright
824 Ernie McCray
817 A.J. Bramlett
808 Sean Elliott
755 Albert Johnson

602 Hassan Adams

*Ignore the wife-beater t-shirt comments on the TV broadcasts. This guy was an amazing player.

810 Russell Brown
663 Damon Stoudamire
622 Jason Gardner
582 Luke Walton
560 Reggie Geary
552 Matt Othick
493 Jason Terry
458 Matt Muehlebach
455 Miles Simon
451 Sean Elliott **

** This guy was pretty good too.

245 Jason Terry
225 Jason Gardner
208 Reggie Geary
200 Kenny Lofton
187 Khalid Reeves
177 Russell Brown
176 Hassan Adams
174 Damon Stoudamire
164 Mike Bibby
151 Luke Walton

278 Anthony Cook
258 Channing Frye
186 Loren Woods
167 Ed Stokes
142 Sean Rooks
104 A.J. Bramlett
101 Joseph Blair
84 Frank Smith
80 Joe Turner
80 Brian Williams

72 Hassan Adams

Here are the guys on three of the five lists:

Sean Elliot (points, rebounds, assists)
Jason Gardner (points, assists, steals)
Damon Stoudamire (points, assists, steals)
Channing Frye (points, rebounds, blocks)

But no one's on four, and that's the height Hassan Adams is trying to reach. That'd be an impressive leap, even for him.

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