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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Nonconference play may be tougher next season

    Arizonas Daniel Dillon fights with Sam Houston States Jeremy Thomas for a loose ball during the first half of Arizonas 87-51 win over Sam Houston State Dec. 19 at McKale Center. Dillon and the Wildcats will play another brutal nonconference schedule in 2006-07.
    Arizona’s Daniel Dillon fights with Sam Houston State’s Jeremy Thomas for a loose ball during the first half of Arizona’s 87-51 win over Sam Houston State Dec. 19 at McKale Center. Dillon and the Wildcats will play another brutal nonconference schedule in 2006-07.

    The season-ending press conference gave Arizona head coach Lute Olson a chance to vent about scheduling. Frustrated by the lack of emphasis on Arizona’s nonconference schedule when it came to the Wildcats’ No. 8 seeding, Olson said he has thought about scheduling lighter in the future.

    “”There’s a real question in my mind as to whether a team should in fact play the tough schedules,”” Olson said.

    However, next year’s tentative non-conference schedule may be just as tough if not even more difficult than this past season.

    Arizona is already slated to play North Carolina and Memphis at home, Virginia on the road and a neutral game with Illinois at U.S Airways Center in Phoenix (the game will be returned by Arizona in 2007-08 when it will be played at the United Center in Chicago). Furthermore, the Wildcats are working on scheduling a home and home with the team they just lost to, Villanova, starting with the upcoming season.

    Olson is not sure how much the NCAA’s focus on scheduling actually matters when it comes to tournament time.

    “”They say they’re not going to be influenced by a team’s record, but I’m not ready to buy that,”” he said. “”I think that particularly when it comes to ranking teams in the top 25, they’re looking at records. They’re not looking at who you play. We played 11 nonconference games, five of them in McKale Center.””

    While other teams in the Pacific 10 Conference feasted on early season cupcakes, Arizona played the toughest nonconference schedule in the country.

    “”You can take a look at even within our league where Washington and ourselves split, we went a game deeper in our league tournament. Maybe it is best to play 10 out of your first 11 at home (as Washington did),”” he said.

    Arizona will also travel to San Diego State and face Houston and Nevada-Las Vegas at home. Along with Villanova, Arizona is still trying to work out a game against NCAA Tournament participant Iona as well.

    The game against Memphis will be part of the Fiesta Bowl Classic, which will be reformatted to pit four teams in a doubleheader rather than the tournament-style, two-game setup of past years.

    “”I still think if you’re going to develop as a team, you need to play better competition, but I do think it hurts you in your seeding,”” Olson said.

    With tough nonconference games against North Carolina going for three more years, a future date with Illinois and the possibility of playing Villanova past next season, Olson’s remarks may be purely out of irritation.

    “”Maybe we should play more like some of the other teams do where they play like 75 percent of their games at home,”” Olson said. “”It’s certainly something that I’m looking at and thinking about right now because I think it does have an effect at the end.””

    With that said, don’t expect Arizona’s scheduling to decrease in toughness anytime soon.

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