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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Cats out-clawed in Philly

    Arizonas Marcus Williams has his shot blocked by Villanovas Will Sheridan during the first half of No. 8 seed Arizonas second round game against No. 1 seed Villanova, Sunday, March 19, 2006 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)
    Chris Coduto
    Arizona’s Marcus Williams has his shot blocked by Villanova’s Will Sheridan during the first half of No. 8 seed Arizona’s second round game against No. 1 seed Villanova, Sunday, March 19, 2006 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)

    Villanova 82, Arizona 78

    It didn’t help that Arizona had to play essentially a road game for the second time in consecutive years in the NCAA Tournament. The partisan Philadelphia crowd did nothing, however, to affect the Arizona Wildcats’ lack of 3-point shooting and a missing frontcourt.

    Arizona won in every statistical category imaginable – from points in the paint to second-chance points to fast-break points. Arizona shot and made the same exact number of free throws, forced more turnovers and had more rebounds than Villanova.

    What it all came down to was what every kid grows up doing in his own backyard: shooting. The Wildcats’ 3-point barrage, 17 attempts in all and only five makes, came out of necessity because Villanova made 47.4 percent of its 3-pointers. However, the Arizona squad that shot 31 percent from behind the 3-point stripe on the season fell flat once again.

    The 59 percent field-goal effort against Wisconsin was long forgotten yesterday, and the win category paid dearly.

    “”We have good shooters,”” senior guard Chris Rodgers said. “”It’s just a matter of guys getting into the game and hitting shots.””

    While that was the same story all year long, freshman forward Marcus Williams was the lone bright spot during the season, leading Arizona in 3-point field goal percentage. Against Villanova, though, Williams went 0-of-6, including a huge miss from the top of the key with 47 seconds left, when he was left wide open with a chance to cut the 78-74 Villanova lead to one.

    “”I couldn’t hit a 3 to save my life,”” Williams said.

    Unable to rely on last year’s top two threats Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye, Arizona cut down its outside attempts after a frustrated Arizona head coach, Lute Olson, told the team to stop taking 3-pointers midway through the season. The team obliged, taking an average of just 8.2 3-point field goals in its last 10 games.

    “”You have to remember we had the best 3-point shooter in the country,”” Williams said. “”Some people took that for granted. We attacked the rim and just cut down our attempts.””

    Villanova’s four-guard lineup spelled trouble for Arizona, forcing the Wildcats into some early first-half turnovers. Junior center Kirk Walters was completely taken out of the game, not playing at all in the second half after just seven minutes in the first half.

    “”What made it tough is that it’s four of them and because of that, Kirk didn’t get a chance to really play as much,”” junior point guard Mustafa Shakur said.

    Junior forward Ivan Radenovic played 35 minutes but wasn’t able to assert himself on the offensive end like he has in the past. Radenovic scored just 10 points on 5-of-11 from the field.

    “”Everyone wants to play … but with me and Ivan in there, it’s a slower lineup,”” Walters said.

    Radenovic’s touches were limited by Villanova’s full-court pressure, a style of play Arizona usually takes advantage of, like in last year’s second-round defeat of Alabama-Birmingham.

    “”We’ve been going against the press this whole year, so it’s nothing new to us; we just made some early mistakes, and it hurt us in the long run,”” Walters said.

    Radenovic’s perimeter shot wasn’t falling either, partly because Arizona wasn’t able to run its offense through him at the high post.

    “”Whenever I set the (screen) on the pick and pop, they had a guy all the time on me and I think I had two or three open shots, but I missed,”” Radenovic said. “”They fronted me in the post, and my teammates just couldn’t put the ball in my hands.””

    Because of Villanova’s quickness, the Wildcats had to attack the pressure, something Arizona assistant coach Josh Pastner said they didn’t do at the start of the game.

    “”We weren’t playing aggressive. We weren’t attacking,”” he said.

    When Arizona did attack, there was no place for slowing the game down and getting the ball inside.

    “”We didn’t have an opportunity to set up our offense and get the ball to Ivan,”” Pastner said. “”I’m sure that was part of their objective.””

    On the defensive end, the big guys just couldn’t contain Villanova’s guard penetration, leading to layups for Villanova’s big men, especially junior forward Will Sheridan, who scored 16 points.

    “”We started Kirk, and we knew that was going to be a risk,”” said Arizona associate head coach Jim Rosborough. “”I wouldn’t have minded if we started small. We knew with Kirk and Ivan, somebody was going to have guard the smaller guy.””

    Said sophomore guard Daniel Dillon: “”All four of them can penetrate and shoot, so if you get too close he’s gonna take you off the dribble. If you get too far away, he’s gonna shoot that 3, and that’s just really tough to defend, and they used that to their advantage.””

    While Arizona’s shooters couldn’t shoot, and their post men didn’t post up, the crowd heavily favored Villanova’s Wildcats.

    “”It’s disappointing to play a team like that at their home pretty much. … That’s a positive they had,”” Dillon said.

    Although the atmosphere was not anything like the regional final game in Rosemont, Ill. last season, the Villanova squad felt the difference.

    “”It was like a home game for us today,”” Villanova senior guard Randy Foye said.

    “”When you needed a stop, you heard the crowd,”” he continued. “”You could hear them chanting defense. It was important for us down the stretch.””

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