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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Rodgers’ return still unclear

    Senior guard Hassan Adams drives the lane against UCLA sophomore guards Aaron Afflalo and Jordan Farmar Saturday. Adams and the Wildcats fell to the Bruins 84-73, losing their third straight game.
    Senior guard Hassan Adams drives the lane against UCLA sophomore guards Aaron Afflalo and Jordan Farmar Saturday. Adams and the Wildcats fell to the Bruins 84-73, losing their third straight game.

    It has been three weeks since senior guard Chris Rodgers played his last game in an Arizona uniform. Arizona head coach Lute Olson set a timetable of two to three weeks for the possible return of the Oregon native, but Olson only said that Rodgers is “”working toward (a return). … There are no changes as of right now,”” Olson said.

    “”I think our guys are working hard and they’re probably wondering too, but they know the stipulations,”” he added.

    Rodgers, seen running outside of McKale Center, had no comment.

    Bombs away

    Coming off of a season high 58 percent shooting effort against UCLA, Olson said the shot selection has been much improved. After intently putting a focus on not attempting so many 3-pointers, the Arizona men’s basketball team attempted just 18 3-pointers in their last two games, making five of them.

    The Wildcats, who average 15.6 3-point attempts per game, shot a season low eight 3-pointers Saturday against UCLA.

    “”I think for us, it was just that we had to not get quick shots and just really work the ball around,”” junior center Kirk Walters said. “”We are a great shooting team from 15 feet, and 3-pointers this year haven’t been dropping, so we’re sticking with what we’re good at.””

    Senior guard Hassan Adams said he has seen an improvement in shot selection but does not believe the Wildcats should forgo the 3-pointer completely.

    “”If you’re in rhythm and you’re open, knock it down,”” Adams said.

    Adams took three 3-pointers, making one in the last two games while averaging almost 2.7 attempts from beyond the arc in his first 20 games.

    “”It could be the first pass down or after two passes, but if you have an open shot, knock it down, shoot it,”” Adams said. “”You never want to take a contested shot.””

    Adams said the second half of the UCLA game was a good example of not forcing the issue.

    “”That’s just being patient, that’s going to the biggest thing, the patience on offense and getting the ball moving,”” he said.

    Two of the main culprits of bad outside shooting were junior

    forward Ivan Radenovic and freshman guard J.P. Prince, but Radenovic and Prince took one attempt each from what is now forbidden territory.

    “”Last week when I indicated there were certain players I didn’t want taking 3-point shots, and if you noticed Ivan Radenovic’s shots were 15 to 17 footers,”” Olson said. “”We told him we didn’t want him stepping out to (19 feet 9 inches) because his percentage is not good from there, yet he’s an outstanding shooter in the 17-and-in range. J.P Prince, we don’t want (him) taking threes because it’s not a case of seeing consistency in practice or in games.””

    Meanwhile, Olson said junior point guard Mustafa Shakur is a better 3-point shooter at home so he will have more of a green light.

    “”Mustafa will shoot the three better at home, and in practice situations we see that,”” Olson said.

    Home sweet home

    The Wildcats went 1-3 on their four-game road trip, so obviously they’re excited to be back in a friendlier environment.

    “”We’ll have the crowd on our side for once for a couple of games, so that’s always good, keeps the momentum going. I think right now that will help us out a lot,”” junior center Kirk Walters said.

    The Wildcats will play five of their next seven games at home, starting with two games this week against Oregon and Oregon State.

    “”It’ll be good to be back home again, finally, and we’re certainly in a position where we need to protect our home court,”” Olson said.

    The Wildcats have lost just one of their nine games at home this season.

    “”I think when we come home, that’s something we look forward to,”” Shakur said.

    Big man on the road

    In the past two games, Arizona’s nominee for Pacific 10 Player of the Week, the 6-foot-10 Walters, averaged 10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. Walters matched a career high in rebounds with eight on Thursday at USC and set a career high in points with 14 on Saturday at UCLA.

    “”I just had to keep on playing hard, even when things weren’t going down, just keep on playing hard, or harder,”” Walters said. “”Even if I’m not getting the ball inside, I have to keep going hard for offensive boards and try to put those back and block shots.””

    Olson said Walters and the rest of Arizona’s big men gave the Wildcats a much-needed boost at UCLA, but Arizona’s guards need to do a better job of passing the ball into the post area. Combined, the trio of Radenovic, Walters, and sophomore forward Bret Brielmaier missed just one shot, shooting 12 for 13 from the field and scoring 27 points.

    “”I think Kirk was doing a better job of stepping in and getting himself open at the right time,”” Olson said.

    Sloppy with the ball

    Uncharacteristic of a team that averages 6.2 more takeaways than its opponents, the Wildcats lost the turnover battle in both games, after losing that battle just one other time this season. Arizona turned the ball over 41 times in the last two games, and lost in points off turnovers 52-28.

    None of the Wildcats seem to have a good grasp of what the problem has been.

    “”It’s real weird,”” Adams said.

    “”I don’t even know, I can’t put my finger on it,”” Shakur said.

    “”We definitely have to take care of the ball, we shot the ball better percentagewise … but we didn’t take care of the ball. When we’re doing everything else right, we can’t do something wrong as big as turning the ball over,”” he said.

    “”I don’t really know, I think it’s over-penetration,”” Williams added. “”I think everyone really wants to make something happen when they go out there so when you go in the lane and try to make something happen and something’s not there, that causes turnovers.””

    Lute loves the Steelers

    Olson was rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl and has had Steelers memorabilia in his house from his grandchildren and family. Christine Olson, Lute’s wife, is friends with Steelers running back Jerome Bettis and is a big Steeler fan. Lute’s dogs have Steelers apparel too. One dog received a Ben Roethlisberger sweater, while the other received a Bettis sweater for Christmas.

    “”I had no choice,”” Olson joked about cheering for the Steelers. “”But I’ve always liked the Steelers because of the way they play.””

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