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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Shakur returns to practice, Hill to play Thursday despite illness”

    UA forward Marcus Williams rises to the basket against Oregon guard Aaron Brooks in Arizonas 77-74 win over the then-No. 13 Ducks on Saturday in Eugene, Ore. The 6-foot-7 Williams partly drew the assignment of guarding the 6-foot Brooks and held him to 2-of-14 from the field.
    UA forward Marcus Williams rises to the basket against Oregon guard Aaron Brooks in Arizona’s 77-74 win over the then-No. 13 Ducks on Saturday in Eugene, Ore. The 6-foot-7 Williams partly drew the assignment of guarding the 6-foot Brooks and held him to 2-of-14 from the field.

    Senior point guard Mustafa Shakur returned to practice yesterday after he missed all of last week’s sessions with a right ankle injury, leading to a subpar weekend.

    He re-aggravated the injury Thursday against Oregon State, but with rest and treatment UA head coach Lute Olson said Shakur will be fine for this week’s games.

    “”He needs to practice,”” Olson said. “”Last week he hadn’t played since Saturday, and you could see his timing was off. I don’t think he made the same kind of decisions that you make when you’re in the flow of practice and games, but he will.””

    Shakur averaged 4.5 points and 6.5 assists on 4-of-19 shooting (21.5 percent) and 3.5 turnovers over the weekend.

    He was scheduled to go through shooting drills with the rest of Arizona’s top six players at practice yesterday.

    “”He’ll get an opportunity to get his time,”” Olson said.

    Hill misses practice to fight illness

    Forward Jordan Hill missed practice yesterday to recover from sinus and respiratory problems, Olson said.

    Hill, who is on medication, is not expected to miss Thursday’s game against USC, in which he will start his fourth straight game. He saw the doctor yesterday to make sure it wasn’t anything serious.

    Hill averaged nine points and nine rebounds on the trip to Oregon last weekend despite fighting off the virus.

    “”I thought he really played through things pretty well,”” said Olson, before adding that Hill needed rest earlier than usual.

    Pac-10 basketball standings

    School Pac-10

    UCLA 10-2 21-3
    Washington State 10-3 21-4
    USC 8-4 18-7
    Oregon 8-5 20-5
    Arizona 8-5 17-7
    Stanford 7-5 15-8
    Washington 6-7 16-8
    California 4-8 12-12
    Oregon State 2-11 10-16
    Arizona State 0-13 6-18

    Williams the new backup point guard

    Last week against the Oregon schools, forward Marcus Williams added another line to his job description: backup point guard.

    Williams, a natural small forward, has played every position but center this year, including starting most of the season at power forward. But with Williams spelling Shakur, the Arizona lineup becomes that much more versatile.

    “”It gives us the opportunity to get an experienced player in the game,”” Olson said. “”Marcus loves being out there. He wants to be out there all the time. I think it gives him an opportunity to show his abilities from a leadership standpoint.””

    The 6-foot-7 Williams played point guard in high school and at times last season. Nic Wise had the UA backup point guard job earlier in the year but has played sparingly recently, including no time in Oregon, giving Williams the opportunity to bring the ball up when Shakur rests.

    “”It’s something I’m comfortable doing,”” Williams said. “”It’s not a huge adjustment.””

    In the past Arizona has used forward Michael Dickerson to guard the point guard spot because of his length and height.

    Williams shared the assignment of guarding Oregon point guard Aaron Brooks, the conference scoring leader, helping the Wildcats hold Brooks to six points, 11.6 below his season average.

    “”Marcus Williams’ length affected Brooks a lot,”” Olson said.

    Wildcats moving up in conference standings

    How things can change in a week in the Pacific 10 Conference standings.

    The No. 19 Arizona men’s basketball team (8-5 Pac-10) learned firsthand after jumping from sixth place last week (two full games behind third place) into a fourth-place tie, a half-game behind third entering play this week.

    “”Every team here is obviously pretty equal as far as competition goes,”” Williams said.

    The Wildcats, who moved up five spots in the Associated Press poll this week, have a chance to continue making headway with No. 5 UCLA and No. 22 USC coming to town this weekend.

    “”The thing about this weekend is we have an opportunity to play two teams that are above us in the standings,”” Olson said. “”At this point that’s what we need to do. That’s why the Oregon win was a big game, and that’s why these two are big games.””

    With sixth-place Stanford (7-5) losing twice, USC (8-4) losing to the Bruins, and No. 15 Oregon (8-5) falling to the Wildcats, all four teams stand within a game of each other. With conference rivals inevitably beating up on each other, any weekend sweep likely will be accompanied by a sizable leap in the standings, like the Wildcats’ move this week.

    “”It’s giving us good momentum now with these two wins,”” Olson said.

    After this weekend, the schedule is relatively kind for Arizona down the stretch, with road games at ASU (0-13), California (4-8) and the Cardinal, all in the bottom half of the conference.

    Williams, however, said his focus is on the Wildcats, not what the rest of the conference is doing.

    “”I try not to (look at the standings),”” he said. “”You get into thinking too much. I just go out there and if we win and we take care of business than things will come like they’re supposed to.””

    UCLA, USC not sold out yet

    About 1,300 student tickets had been sold for Thursday’s USC game and 1,600 for Saturday’s contest against UCLA as of 5 p.m. yesterday, more than any game on the first day besides North Carolina, according to Zona Zoo director Michael Huston.

    “”I don’ t really have a lot of time to play video games.I’m too busy with what I’m doing.””
    – Lute Olson, UA head coach

    With the athletics department having discussions about reducing the section after the season, Huston likened purchasing tickets to voting to keep the section’s 2,300 seats next year.

    “”I think students need to know that this may very well be their last opportunity to show the athletics department and to show the community that they deserve these seats and we really should keep this student section at the same level it is now,”” he said. “”I think it’s really important if people are fans they come to this game, and they send a strong message.””

    Olson no video game aficionado

    When asked if he’s ever seen his likeness in EA Sports’ March Madness 07 college basketball video game, Olson responded with the quote of the day.

    “”I don’ t really have a lot of time to play video games,”” he said with a smirk. “”I’m too busy with what I’m doing.””

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