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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Arizona’s seeding hurt after lackluster performance vs. Ducks

    LOS ANGELES – How do you rebound from a good old-fashioned spanking? Arizona was the recipient of the Oregon palm, but while the Wildcats have the big red mark, their season isn’t done.

    The NCAA Tournament selection show is Sunday, and Arizona’s resume indicates the question will be “”when”” and not “”if.””

    Although the team admittedly but inexplicably lacked fire and passion yesterday, a subject that stirred a players-only meeting after the UCLA game Feb. 17, another team meeting isn’t going to alter much.

    “”We don’t even need a meeting because we already know what’s at stake, one and done now,”” said guard Jawann McClellan. “”If we wanna feel like this again, just go through the motions and we’ll be done, and I don’t think nobody is ready to stop playing.””

    The players didn’t feel a lack of preparation was the cause for the collapse. Forwards Ivan Radenovic and Chase Budinger and guard Mustafa Shakur all said no one saw it coming.

    “”It just kind of seems that our energy has been down, our passion is not to lose going into every game. It’s not really there right now. We have to change that.””
    – Chase Budinger,
    UA forward

    “”We were focused, and we prepared very well coming into this game,”” Budinger said. “”It just kind of seems that our energy has been down, our passion is not to lose going into every game. It’s not really there right now. We have to change that.””

    So where does this loss leave the Wildcats now?

    “”Losing in the first round of the tournament, we put ourselves in a bad situation,”” Radenovic said. “”I really don’t know what to expect.””

    Although UA head coach Lute Olson still thinks Arizona’s strength of schedule ranks No. 1 nationally, as he has discussed at every mention of the words bubble or seeding the past few weeks, Arizona has recently dropped to No. 2.

    The list of quality wins (No. 5 Memphis, No. 12 Louisville, No. 25 Nevada-Las Vegas, Illinois, Oregon) is long, while the list of bad losses is nonexistent, disregarding big losses to good teams (No. 4 UCLA, No. 8 North Carolina, Oregon).

    “”I think people forget that the 1997 championship team was fifth in the conference,”” Olson said.

    Even in the locker room after the game, the guessing game had already begun. Will the Wildcats be in the No. 8/No. 9 matchup, or will they fall to No. 10, as McClellan said may happen? Will they stay relatively close to home – say Chicago or Columbus, Ohio – or will they be shipped way back east to Buffalo, N.Y.?

    Like the team, which Radenovic called “”unpredictable,”” the seeding is anyone’s guess.

    “”I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it,”” guard Mustafa Shakur said. “”I don’t know where we’re at with that.””

    Shakur and Arizona have been in this position before. They lost to UCLA by double digits last season before going to the East Coast for the first round and a No. 8/9 matchup against Wisconsin, one which Arizona dominated. This year may be more of the same.

    “”It was just a feeling if we lose this one, we’re really, really done; there’s no more games after this,”” Shakur said. “”I think we’re going to go out with that type of look.””

    The sense of urgency, which was sorely lacking yesterday, considering Arizona never went on a serious run and led only once, will need to return, or the Wildcats’ stay in the NCAAs will be just as short as in the Pac-10s.

    “”Once Monday practice comes, if we’re not ready to play by then, we don’t even deserve to go to the tournament,”” McClellan said.

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