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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cardinal next on Cats’ menu

    As the Arizona men’s basketball team heads into the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament, the Wildcats face a team they beat twice without a player who has been much of the reason for the first two wins.

    When No. 4-seeded Arizona (18-11, 11-7 Pac-10) faces No. 5-seeded Stanford (15-12, 11-7) tomorrow at 1:20 p.m. on FSN in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament, they will be without the team’s leading scorer, senior guard Hassan Adams.

    Adams was suspended for the entirety of the Pac-10 Tournament after being cited for driving under the influence early Sunday morning after the team’s 70-67 loss to No. 12 Washington, and senior guard Chris Rodgers said it will definitely make an impact on the Wildcats’ approach.

    “”It’s going to effect us a great deal; he’s pretty much the heart and soul of our team,”” Rodgers said. “”He’s our team captain (and) a big part of our offense. It’s going to be a big difference in how we look out there.””

    Without Adams, who has averaged 20 points per game in the Wildcats’ two previous meetings against Stanford, Arizona head coach Lute Olson said that his team will have other court leaders take on more of that role.

    “”I think that all gets down to the character of the team, (and) I think we have guys of character, and I think they’ll respond,”” Olson said. “”It’s a huge loss, obviously, since (Adams is) the leading scorer, (but junior guard) Mustafa (Shakur) and (junior forward) Ivan (Radenovic) have stepped up big time in terms of on-court leadership. I expect them to respond well.””

    Arizona is coming off a heart-breaking loss to Washington, a game the Wildcats were leading until the last 33 seconds of the game.

    With the loss to the Huskies, junior center Kirk Walters said he knows how important winning some games in the Pac-10 Tournament means.

    “”The (NCAA) Tournament is coming up real fast and we only have three games ahead of us before that, so we have to get as many wins as we can before that and get this team going into the tournament,”” he said.

    With the two victories against Stanford earlier this season, Rodgers said the team needs to continue the defense that has averaged 18.5 turnovers in the two games and has won both rebounding battles.

    “”I think our defensive pressure the first two games was important in our win(s), so it’s going to be no different,”” Rodgers said. “”We just going to try to do the best we can against those guys and try to win the rebound battle.””

    Olson said he thinks that the team can still succeed if Shakur contributes more as a passing guard than with a shoot-first mentality.

    “”Over the last three weeks or so, (Shakur) has adjusted to what we feel is the best way for him to play,”” Olson said. “”It’s not a role of having to score a lot of points, as long as Mustafa understands what his greatest contributions can be to his team – get the ball to open people (and) not force plays.””

    Losing their top offensive contributor, the Wildcats will be looking more to freshman forward Marcus Williams and Radenovic, the team’s second and third leading scorers, respectively, to provide a spark when Arizona has the ball.

    Williams scored a career-high 22 points against Stanford in the teams’ first meeting Jan. 19 in McKale Center, and Radenovic leads the team in scoring against the Cardinal, with 20.5 per game.

    “”We have to go out and do the same things we’ve done,”” Shakur said. “”They are going to be at the same level. They want to beat us as well and continue to move on.

    “”It’s not going to be easy because nobody wants to lose to a team three times in a row.””

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