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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Lights, camera, hoops action”

    All Madden

    If this year’s men’s basketball media day is anything like last year’s, pull your lap bar down firmly and hold on tight for another roller coaster ride.

    Last year’s media day displayed irony in its purest, most classical form: It set up a discrepancy between the expected result and the actual result.

    As video cameras rolled, flashes went off and writers scribbled down quotes just outside the Lohse Room in McKale Center last season, Laval Lucas-Perry told the media how excited he was to be a Wildcat. Then he transferred to Michigan in December.

    Spencer Lucas leaned against a wall, watching as the media swarmed around better-known players. The junior walk-on didn’t get any playing time during the season and is not on this year’s roster.

    Fendi Onobun was contending for a starting position. Then he averaged 8.8 minutes per game in 21 appearances while enduring shin injuries and a broken finger.

    Chase Budinger discussed being a team leader in what most thought was his last season as a Wildcat. Then he skipped the NBA Draft and came back.

    There were more twists and turns than in Chutes and Ladders.

    The biggest shock, however, was that all the players gave then-associate head coach Kevin O’Neill kudos for the defensive mentality he brought with him into Tucson. Then head coach Lute Olson took a season-long leave of absence, and O’Neil took over as the interim boss.

    And, well, you know how it ended from there.

    Now O’Neill is gone, along with assistant coaches Josh Pastner and Miles Simon, replaced by Mike Dunlap, Reggie Geary and Russ Pennell.

    Despite the coaching roulette, the Silver Fox is back, and knowing what went on last season, it’s going to take some work to get the team back on track and play the proverbial “”Arizona basketball.””

    Not only is Olson leading a team with a fresh coaching staff, but he essentially has seven new players under him -ÿfour true freshmen and last year’s class who didn’t play for him because of his absence.

    For the head coach, this season may be like pushing a bolder up a hill – at least for now.

    “”It’s a huge challenge,”” Olson said in front of a group of media before practice Saturday. “”Huge challenge.””

    Players will greet the media in their new uniforms today and talk about how great it is to have their Hall of Fame coach back. They’ll talk about having two players who will most likely declare for the 2009 NBA Draft – Budinger and Jordan Hill.

    They’ll express their hopes for doing well in the upcoming season, but no one will be able to predict what will really happen in the upcoming season. It’s a roller coaster ride with blindfolds.

    Make sure you smile when the camera goes off.

    – Lance Madden is a journalism junior. He can be reached at

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