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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Moving forward with one step back


    The Arizona men’s basketball team is adjusting to all the changes this season one step at a time. More literally in some cases.

    When Arizona opens up its 2008-09 campaign against Florida Atlantic in the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tipoff tonight at 9 in McKale Center, the Wildcats will have to adjust to the new NCAA 3-point line, which has been moved from 19 feet, 9 inches, to 20 feet, 9 inches.

    Of course all college teams will experience the adjustment, but the Wildcats have felt the change already.

    “”We haven’t been very good,”” said UA interim head coach Russ Pennell of the Wildcats’ adjustment to the new line.

    In its two exhibition games, Arizona made 7-of-20 shots (35 percent) from beyond the new arc, painted navy on Lute and Bobbi Olson Court. Last season the team was 221-for-556 (.390), with forward Chase Budinger scoring the most beyond the arc for the Wildcats, as he went 73-for-192 (.380).

    Budinger was 0-for-5 from 3-point land this preseason.

    “”A foot makes a lot of difference, so that’s going to affect the college game a lot,”” Lute Olson said before the season started. “”I think there will be a lot of guys that have the green light, and some that don’t have green lights.

    “”They have to prove their ability to be able to hit that shot consistently,”” Olson added.

    UA forward Jamelle Horne has adjusted to the deeper line better than any Wildcat. The sophomore, who shot 2-for-15 from beyond the arc last season, drained 4-of-7 in the team’s two exhibitions.

    “”I want to be consistent this year. I feel like we already have our big trio,”” Horne said, referring to Budinger, forward Jordan Hill and guard Nic Wise. “”I feel like we just need to answer some questions with that fourth and fifth guy, and also the guys coming off the bench. Any groove I want to have this year is just a consistent groove.””

    Wise was 37-for-77 (.481) last season from deep, making him the most successful shooter on the team. In Arizona’s two exhibition games, he was 1-for-5. The guard said he foresees trouble, not only for Arizona, but for all 3-point shooters in the future.

    “”But I think it will cause some havoc because people will take that extra step back behind that line,”” Wise said. “”I’m anxious to see what happens.””

    Wise said, for the most part, players are conscious about where the new line is, but added that the players catch themselves looking down from time to time.

    If the Wildcats step on the line while shooting during practice, the coaching staff requires them do pushups right there.

    “”I think that’s something we’ll have to watch as the season goes on,”” Pennell said. “”I think what it does, it eliminates those guys that shot 35 percent out there. Those guys like Chase and Nic, and even Jamelle – it doesn’t matter.””

    With a deep inside presence from Hill, forward Fendi Onobun and center Alex Jacobson to go with Pennell’s motion offense, the interim coach said the Wildcats will probably do most of their offensive work inside the key this season.

    “”I don’t know if that’s going to be one of our strengths, to be honest with you,”” Pennell said. “”I think we have some good shooters, but from deep, I don’t know if we have an abundance of them.””

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