The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

73° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Third time a charm for Stanford?

    It has not been a pleasant season for Stanford, so the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament has become the only means it has of sending its seniors out the right way.

    On Senior Day, Stanford got pummeled 75-54 by No. 13 UCLA. All-Pac-10 selection and senior forward Matt Haryasz scored just eight points in the game and hinted to the campus newspaper, the Stanford Daily, that he would not want to play in any NIT game at home.

    In reality, the Cardinal’s lone chance to get to the Big Dance is to win three consecutive games, starting with Arizona this afternoon at Staples Center.

    “”We feel we’re capable of playing with them and capable of beating them if we play really well,”” Stanford head coach Trent Johnson said.

    Senior guard Chris Hernandez has been a thorn in Arizona’s side over the years, a time period that junior point guard Mustafa Shakur said has felt like forever. Hernandez averaged 21 points in the two games against the Wildcats this season, including 28 in Arizona’s 76-72 win Feb. 19 in Maples Pavilion.

    Both Cardinal losses were razor-thin margins of victory, one coming in overtime and the other by just four points.

    “”They’re going to run plays for him to get him to where they want him to be,”” Shakur said. “”He’s not just coming down and breaking all five of our guys down and just dunking on everybody.””

    In Saturday’s game against UCLA, Hernandez switched back to point guard and freshman guard Anthony Goods replaced Mitch Johnson in the starting lineup. Johnson said the lineup change was put into effect due to matchups, and the original lineup with Hernandez playing shooting guard will likely be on the floor against Arizona.

    Either Shakur or senior guard Rodgers will take the assignment.

    “”That’s somebody I always like playing against,”” Shakur said. “”He’s a player that you get up for.””

    In the last meeting between Arizona and Stanford, the Wildcats received the services of Rodgers, who did not play in the first meeting. Rodgers challenged Hernandez in the backcourt and helped force him into five turnovers.

    “”Our success against Stanford has been due to our ability to put pressure on the ball,”” Arizona head coach Lute Olson said. “”Anytime you look at them, you obviously have to deal with Hernandez, which we haven’t done very well, although we did force him into a bunch of turnovers (five) last time.””

    Johnson saw a different Arizona squad the second time around, saying the Wildcats improved defensively.

    “”I thought when Chris came back and there were a full complement of players here at Maples, defensively they were really, really good, as good as anyone with the exception of UCLA,”” Johnson said.

    As for adjusting to a team without senior guard Hassan Adams, who torched Stanford for 23 points, Johnson said it would not change the way the Cardinal prepares.

    “”I think with Rodgers in the fold and (freshman forward) Marcus Williams with how he’s playing and of course Coach … finds a way to get the most out of his guys,”” Johnson said. “”They have plenty of time to adjust, and somebody else will step in and produce.””

    Fellow Cardinal seniors Haryasz (16.6 points per game) and guard Dan Grunfeld (12.5) form Stanford’s core trio.

    “”Haryasz is a huge problem inside,”” Olson said. “”I think Grunfeld – after being out with that knee injury – I’ve felt the last few games he’s been playing like the Grunfeld of old.””

    Facing a team for the third time in less than two months can be challenging because any tendencies the opponent has have surely been scouted over and over again. The last time Arizona faced a team for the third time in a season after beating them twice was 2002-03, when the No. 1-seeded Wildcats fell to No. 8-seeded UCLA in that year’s Pac-10 Tournament, 96-89 in overtime.

    “”It’s tough to beat a team three times because you see them so many times … but at the same time, we’re just as capable of beating them three times,”” junior center Kirk Walters said. “”We’ve done it twice.””

    Adams’ absence could lead to lower seed in NCAA

    Adams’ suspension from the Pac-10 Tournament could affect Arizona’s NCAA tournament hopes and possible seeding, the chairman of the Division I men’s basketball committee, Craig Littlepage, said via teleconference yesterday.

    “”There are at least two teams that are impacted in some way by (a player) not playing in their conference tournament,”” Littlepage said.

    Although he would not discuss the situation in detail, Littlepage said the committee is looking at two teams who are facing similar circumstances.

    “”The two situations that we’re dealing with, they’re both player suspensions,”” Littlepage said. “”One team is going into its conference tournament without a key player, and I don’t know that a decision has been made on whether the player will return if they advance to the NCAA Championships.””

    The Arizona athletics department issued a statement on Monday saying Adams would be back with the team for the NCAA Tournament.

    Littlepage went on to say that the committee considers key players being off the team to be a factor in the selection process.

    “”Particularly starters or players of significance for their teams that aren’t in games because of injury or suspension could have an impact in terms of first of all selection and secondly in terms of how a team is seeded,”” Littlepage said.

    “”In both situations, it will have to be considered precisely what that means,”” he added. “”It’ll be hard to tell, and it’s too early to tell exactly what that means at this point.””

    More to Discover
    Activate Search