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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Arizona picked to finish second in Pac-10

    Sophomore forward Marcus Williams contests a shot by UCLA guard Josh Shipp during Januarys 85-79 loss in McKale Center. The Bruins, who swept three games from the Wildcats last season, were picked to finish ahead of Arizona in a Pac-10 preseason media poll.
    Sophomore forward Marcus Williams contests a shot by UCLA guard Josh Shipp during January’s 85-79 loss in McKale Center. The Bruins, who swept three games from the Wildcats last season, were picked to finish ahead of Arizona in a Pac-10 preseason media poll.

    For the first time in five years, the Arizona men’s basketball team was picked to finish lower than first in the Pacific 10 Conference by a poll of media members who cover Pac-10 basketball.

    The Wildcats were picked second, behind last season’s Pac-10 champion and national runner-up UCLA. The Bruins received 21 first place votes and 335 total, while Arizona received 13 first-place votes and 280 total votes.

    Washington, Oregon, and California round out the top five, with Oregon being the only other Pac-10 team to receive a first place vote. ASU was picked to finish ninth.

    “”We understand, and I think everybody in our program has been pretty open about what we felt about losing to UCLA three times last year,”” UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough said. “” Nobody liked it, and we understand the facts of life, and (UCLA) kind of picked things up, made everybody a little more aware that you better be tough defensively, and we’ve tried to make that clear for our guys.””

    In a tuneup for the first game of the season on Nov. 12 against Virginia, Arizona, who is ranked No. 10 overall in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, takes on Team Georgia tomorrow at noon.

    The Wildcats will be without sophomore forward and returning leading scorer Marcus Williams, who will probably practice today, but will likely have the services of senior center Kirk Walters, who practiced yesterday. UA head coach Lute Olson said Walters will be available at least in spurts.

    “”I just think they’re really anxious to see somebody else,”” Olson said. “”Going into this, you never quite know how you’re doing playing against your own guys.””

    The Wildcats tentatively plan to start guards Mustafa Shakur and Jawann McClellan, forwards Chase Budinger and Ivan Radenovic and center Mohamed Tangara, but Rosborough cautioned that McClellan’s knee often dictates when the junior guard sees the floor.

    “”Is it better for Jawann to warm up and then play and then sit him for a bit, or does he warm up, we sit him, and then he goes in as a sixth man,”” Rosborough said. “”That we’ll have to analyze and probably talk to our trainer and see what he thinks is best.””

    Georgia is a group of former college basketball players coached by Linzy Davis, who has ties to the Arizona basketball program.

    “”Obviously (Team Georgia) haven’t played a lot together, but I think the athleticism is something we’ll look forward to going against them,”” Olson said.

    Davis helped bring over Tangara from Mali and served as his legal guardian. He also coached Chase Budinger and Nic Wise this summer at the Nike Douai Junior World Championships.

    Georgia has one more year left on its contract with Arizona, but will no longer be able to play another exhibition game against the Wildcats after that because of NCAA regulations banning college teams from playing club teams.

    Arizona defeated Team Georgia the last two seasons by an average of 27.5 points, including a 104-81 win last year.

    With the beginning of the regular season in close proximity, Rosborough said the Wildcats are looking at this game as more than just an exhibition and not as a “”throwaway game.””

    “”A week from this Sunday we play Virginia, so we have to have guys busting their butts,”” he said. “”Maybe other years you might have a little bit of time to experiment more in an exhibition. We’ll play some guys, but we’ve got to put a look out there that we’re going to be using a week from Sunday. It’s not a true exhibition from our standpoint.

    Preseason Pac-10 media poll
    Team Pts.

    1. UCLA (21)* 335 2. Arizona (13)* 280 3. Washington 236 4. Oregon (1)* 193 5. California 177 6. USC 160 7. Stanford 127 8. Oregon State 75 9. Arizona State 69 10. Washington State 54

    *First-place votes in parentheses

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