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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Staff Picks

    How far will men’s basketball go?

    Lance Madden, men’s basketball beat writer: No matter how many ups and downs the Wildcats go through this season on their unconventional roller coaster ride, one thing will remain the same: They’re still Wildcats. And though this team probably won’t be as good as the ones in the coming years, the tradition will live on and Arizona will make the NCAA Tournament for its 25th straight year. Though the team is very young, there’s a lot more chemistry already than last season, which counts for a lot.

    First round of NCAA Tournament

    Bryan Roy, men’s basketball beat writer: In recent years, the Arizona men’s basketball program began its seasons with high expectations and promising hopes, only to struggle throughout the season to maintain national respect. Now, they’re fighting for any respect. They begin right where they left off: as an NCAA Tournament bubble team without its Hall of Fame head coach. It’s Russ Pennell’s job to ensure the Wildcats reach last year’s accomplishments.

    First round of NCAA Tournament

    Who’s the men’s basketball MVP?

    Lance: Every team needs a central source of energy to keep the players motivated for all 40 minutes of play. Nic Wise is this source for the Wildcats. As part of the Big Three with Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger, the UA will rely heavily on Wise to be a floor general. Arizona went 2-5 without him last season, and it can’t afford to be without him this year.

    Nic Wise

    Bryan: As one of the Pacific 10 Conference’s most dominant big men, UA forward Jordan Hill will certainly excel in his third year of college ball. Having developed a dynamic new set of variables – a 17-foot jump shot, left-hand hook shot and improved defense – Hill must keep out of foul trouble as one of Arizona’s veteran trio of juniors.

    Jordan Hill

    Who’s the men’s basketball X-Factor?

    Lance: Last season and this season are like night and day for Jamelle Horne. He came into the program as a highly-touted recruit but was very inconsistent last year. But if anything good came out of last season for Horne, it was that Kevin O’Neill really made him a man. That maturity off the court has already translated onto it. Horne wants to be a leader this season, and rest assured he will be.

    Jamelle Horne

    Bryan: UA interim head coach Russ Pennell has clearly defined the roles on this year’s squad: Budinger takes 40 percent of the shots; Hill dominates down low; Wise leads the point; Fendi sets the screens and grabs boards. Where does the fifth starter find his place? The same way Jamelle Horne developed into the “”glue guy”” – the teammate focused on keeping the Wildcats together. Not to mention, he’s honed a more consistent 3-point shot.

    Jamelle Horne

    How far will women’s basketball go?

    Tim Kosch, women’s basketball beat writer: Thanks to an extremely young roster, Arizona’s return to the top of the Pac-10 may seem like a distant vision to the naked eye. That’s because the nation isn’t aware of new head coach Niya Butts who really is coaching’s next big thing. Butts has brought an attitude and philosophy that just screams success. While this season most likely won’t bring home a Pac-10 title, the Wildcats will surprise all of those who picked them to finish last.

    Seventh in Pac-10

    Nicole Dimtrios, women’s basketball beat writer: The Wildcats were picked to finished last in Pac-10 this year, but Niya Butts and the Wildcats beg to differ. This team has been revitalized by Butts’ coaching style and believes that they can have a productive season. They’re preaching a balance of good defense and productive offense, hoping the energy of the Wildcats will only increase. Although they are in a state of rebuilding, Arizona has promising young players who will give them fresh looks on the floor.

    Seventh in the Pac-10

    Who’s the women’s basketball MVP?

    Tim: In order for the Wildcats to succeed this year, they need to find leadership. Coach Butts has named this year’s seniors as the captains, but the leadership doesn’t stop there. Junior point guard Ashley Frazier has demonstrated the ability to get the most out of her teammates and is providing an outstanding model for the freshmen to follow. In addition to her stellar defense and court vision, Frazier also possesses a stellar long-range shot, which is rare in point guards.

    Ashley Frazier

    Nicole: Putting up consistent double-doubles and giving the Wildcats an inside offense makes Amina Njonkou the MVP of the Wildcats. Her three years of experience with Arizona gives her an advantage in the paint, especially in rebounds and put-backs. Providing she can stay healthy, Njonkou should be a leader on the floor and put up an offensive show this year for her team.

    Amina Njonkou

    Who’s the women’s basketball X-Factor?

    Tim: There is no denying that the Wildcats are a young, inexperienced team. Sometimes this is a crutch for a team, while other times it is a blessing. Which category Arizona falls under remains to be seen, but a big part of their success lies in the hands of freshman guard Reiko Thomas. The two-time California All-State selection was the leading scorer during the preseason and doesn’t seem at all phased by the big-stage.

    Reiko Thomas

    Nicole: Freshmen Reiko Thomas has been impressive in the Wildcats’ exhibition games. She has separated herself from the five other freshmen on the team by having breakout performances during exhibition preseason games. Her impact on the perimeter offense will be her greatest contribution and will give the Wildcats a one-two punch with Ashley Frazier. She was the leading scorer in both exhibition games and provides an extra spark for Arizona.

    Reiko Thomas

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