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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Staff Picks

    How far will men’s basketball go?

    Last year, the Wildcats broke their huddles by chanting “”Atlanta!”” in recognition of their Final Four goal. No such chants exist this year, just a focus on toughness, defense and no easy baskets. Still, star forward Chase Budinger could carry the team, and everybody remembers what happened the last time a stud freshman point guard from Phoenix led the Wildcats. That won’t happen again, but expect a lengthier run than the past two years.

    Elite Eight

    Michael Schwartz
    assistant sports editor

    It’s ridiculous how much talent this team has. But then again, that’s every year with Arizona. The difference this year, as cliché as it sounds, is chemistry. Five tight freshmen and four leading seniors bookend this fun, hard-working group. Mix in a whole new defense and the tradition of an excellent program, and you’ve got a plane ticket to San Antonio. The Wildcats are coming in hot.

    Final Four

    Lance Madden
    assistant sports editor

    UA interim head coach Kevin O’Neill is not a good addition to this team – a great one to say the very least. This began as his team from the get-go, taking control of brutal conditioning and relentless drills since day one. Everybody knows Jerryd Bayless and Chase Budinger will produce, and most likely enter the NBA next season, but the crucial X-factor this season is highly-touted incoming freshman Jamelle Horne.

    Sweet 16

    Bryan Roy
    sports writer

    Freshman Jerryd Bayless has already shown glimpses of his special talent, and Jamelle Horne did not disappoint when given the opportunity to start in the team’s final exhibition game. But despite the added depth from the freshmen, as well as a more experienced Chase Budinger, interim head coach Kevin O’Neill said his team is far from being a good defensive team. This will be an issue for Arizona throughout the season.

    Sweet 16

    Bobby Stover
    sports writer

    Who’s the men’s basketball MVP?

    The Wildcats have never lacked in talent, yet they have failed to reach the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament three of the last four years. Enter interim head coach Kevin O’Neill. A noted defensive specialist who gets in players’ faces, Arizona will unquestionably play better defense and show more toughness – although that’s not hard in comparison to last year’s squad.

    Kevin O’Neill

    Michael Schwartz
    assistant sports editor

    Chase Budinger makes everything look so easy. He garnered numerous awards last year as a freshman thanks to his ability to hit shots from the inside, outside and in the air. He’s taken the necessary steps of being a great player, from attending Michael Jordan’s Flight School to workouts on the beach this summer. The only thing that lacks is his defense. But nobody on the team is going to be a bad defender this year under K.O.

    Chase Budinger

    Lance Madden
    assistant sports editor

    Sophomore sensation Jordan Hill looks to capitalize from a surprisingly impressive freshman year, all 6 feet, 10 inches of him. With a supreme down-low presence, the only question mark comes from staying out of foul trouble and his health, as he enters the season nursing a knee sprain. Assuming Bayless and Budinger consistently produce, Hill will rise to the occasion to form the trio no team should ever
    suffer by.

    Jordan Hill

    Bryan Roy
    sports writer

    The work Jawann McClellan put in over the summer has appeared to pay off, as the 6-foot-4 guard had a strong preseason. Bayless has also shown glimpses of greatness throughout the preseason, but so far, Chase Budinger appears the most comfortable. If he adds to last year’s performance, the Wildcats will be in a good place.

    Chase Budinger

    Bobby Stover
    sports writer

    How far will women’s basketball go?

    The last two seasons I’ve picked them to reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and both times I’ve been embarrassingly wrong. Without a proven star, and given a predicted eighth-place finish in the polls, I’m not convinced the third time will be the charm. The biggest determining factor is health, as injuries have derailed the Wildcats the last two seasons. Still, losing Joy Hollingsworth hurts, so don’t expect an NCAA berth.

    Seventh in Pac-10

    Michael Schwartz
    assistant sports editor

    The Wildcats have not been the same since the passing of center Shawntinice Polk in 2005. They are still in a state of rebuilding. Their leading scorer and face of the team, Joy Hollingsworth, has graduated, and for the second year in a row, they won’t have the towering Bofia twins playing together. This season is going to be a primer coat for a great one next year.

    Seventh in Pac-10

    Lance Madden
    assistant sports editor

    Healthy, healthy, healthy – Arizona must avoid the injury plague from last season’s suffers. The addition of assistant coach Bernard Scott also impacts this team positively with incredible post knowledge for the returning and incoming women down low. Guards Jessica Arnold and Ashley Whisonant always produce from the backcourt, but X-factor forward Sarah Hays must develop a crucial presence on this team.

    Fifth in the Pac-10

    Bryan Roy
    sports writer

    The Wildcats will surely miss the presence of Joy Hollingsworth this season, but there is no one more motivated to win than seniors Jessica Arnold and Ashley Whisonant. As two of only three players on the team to have experienced the NCAA Tournament, their leadership, combined with the efforts of some talented freshmen and potentially a healthy roster, will be enough to lead Arizona to its first NCAA Tournament appearance
    since 2005.

    NCAA Tournament first round

    Bobby Stover
    sports writer

    Who’s the women’s basketball MVP?

    I’ve balled with Amina Njonkou at the Rec, and I learned one thing: She’s got game. That is, provided she can stay healthy. With inside skills to match her soft jump shot, injury issues have been the long-sleeved forward’s biggest problem through her first two seasons. After a team-leading performance on the team’s summer Italy trip, Njonkou will finally stay on the court long enough to prove she’s the Wildcats’
    best player.

    Amina Njonkou

    Michael Schwartz
    assistant sports editor

    The Wildcats’ MVP is Ashley Whisonant’s stuffed monkey, Sebastian. But in reality, this honor goes to forward Amina Njonkou for her stellar play in the paint and double-double tendency. A monster rebounder with a never-say-die attitude, Njonkou will propel the team this season.

    Amina Njonkou

    Lance Madden
    assistant sports editor

    Look no further than forward Amina Njonkou. The 6-foot-1 junior enters this season as the hands-down most improved player on this team – like Kanye West says, “”better, faster, stronger.”” After spending an offseason revamping her shot, expect double-doubles almost every game from the strong offensive-rebound machine.

    Amina Njonkou

    Bryan Roy
    sports writer

    Senior Ashley Whisonant should finish the season the team’s leading scorer and possibly find herself fifth on the all-time scoring list. However, the MVP will be hard-working forward Amina Njonkou. First-year assistant coach Bernard Scott said Njonkou’s work ethic was the biggest thing that made her stand out, making her not only a threat down low but a strong leader, as well.

    Amina Njonkou

    Bobby Stover
    sports writer

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