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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Olson: Wildcats deserve a No. 7 seed

    Lute Olson
    Lute Olson

    If more emphasis was placed on conference tournaments this year, Arizona was the big loser. A 19-point loss to No. 16 Oregon likely bumped the Wildcats into a position that would pit them against defending national champion Florida if they can get past the first round.

    UA head coach Lute Olson, obviously, would have preferred avoiding the dreaded 1-8 second-round matchup.

    “”Well I thought we deserved a No. 7,”” Olson said. “”I know what the committee goes through because of (former UA athletic director) Cedric Dempsey having been the head of the committee one year and (current AD) Jim Livengood another year. So I know how hard they work at this. But going into the day, I thought we would be a No. 7.””

    For Olson, it will be the 23rd straight tournament with Arizona, tying former North Carolina head coach Dean Smith’s record.

    “”I have a great deal of respect for Dean Smith and the job he had done,”” Olson said. “”Just to be mentioned in the same sentence with him is a great compliment.””

    It is only the second time Arizona has ever had a No. 8 seed, both of them coming in the last two years. The Wildcats have been ranked worse than a No. 8 four times (No. 9 2004 and 1986 and No. 10 1985 and 1987.).

    Arizona’s strength of schedule was ranked No. 2 at the end of the season and Olson thought the committee hadn’t recognized just the difficulty of having to consistently play good teams.

    “”I know the (NCAA Selection) Committee really works hard,”” Olson said. “”I’m still not sure that they’re aware that New Mexico State won their conference, that UNLV won theirs, and Memphis played Houston in their championship. North Carolina won theirs. Virginia tied for the ACC (regular season) title. NAU went to the finals of their tournament. San Diego State won well over 20 games.

    “”The word is that you need to schedule tough games and it’s going to help you. I just am not sure that people remember how tough our schedule was.””

    At the least Arizona’s schedule may help in preparation for Florida, because the Wildcats have faced some of the top teams in the nation. Forward Marcus Williams said being in the same region as Florida brings up the dilemna of not trying not to look forward.

    “”It depends on how you look at it,”” he said. “”You can look at having to win the first game to get the chance to play Florida, or you can not think about Florida at all. I look at (it as) not underestimating Purdue.””

    Despite Arizona’s recent struggles, seniors Mustafa Shakur and Ivan Radenovic feel good about the situation Arizona is in.

    “”No. 8 is about right,”” Radenovic said. “”Purdue is a good team, and they deserved a No. 9 seed. It’s going to be a battle of two good teams.””

    Said Shakur: “”I feel great about our situation. I think it’s a great situation for us. We got excited when we saw where we were going. We feel like we can beat anyone.””

    Radenovic, Williams share team MVP honors

    At the team’s annual awards banquet held Monday night at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, Ivan Radenovic and Marcus Williams took away top honors. But everyone took home some hardware. Here is the list of the awards handed out:

    Most Valuable Player: Radenovic, Williams

    Captains Award: Radenovic, Shakur

    Best Defensive Player: Daniel Dillon

    Most Improved: Jordan Hill

    Coaches Award: David Bagga, Nic Wise

    Wounded Warriors Award:
    Jawann McClellan, Mohamed Tangara, Kirk Walters

    Most Inspirational: Bret Brielmaier

    Academic Award:
    Fendi Onobun

    Outstanding Seniors: Radenovic, Shakur

    Outstanding Freshman: Chase Budinger

    Most Rebounds: Radenovic

    Most Steals: Shakur

    Most Assists: Shakur

    Highest Free-Throw Percentage: Radenovic

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