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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hoops on the rebound

    Pity Lute Olson for the task he’s got ahead of him.

    The UA men’s basketball team head coach must find a way to motivate his players for a game against a squad that just lost by 45 to USC.

    If Arizona players so wished, they could take a peek at their upcoming scheduleover the next few weeks, which includes games at home against No. 15 Oregon and No. 1 North Carolina with contests at No. 4 UCLA and against the Trojans sandwiched in between.

    So is it tough for the No. 10 Wildcats (12-2, 3-1 Pac-10) not to underestimate Oregon State (8-8, 0-3) when the Beavers come to McKale Center for tonight’s 6:30 contest?

    “”Every Pac-10 game is going to be important,”” said UA forward Marcus Williams. “”You can’t look at it like, ‘They beat them by 45, they lost to them, so that’s what’s going to happen.’ We’ve got to come in and defend our home court.””

    Olson said OSU’s 91-46 loss to the Trojans Saturday, in which the Beavers shot 31.5 percent from the floor, was a “”nightmare game”” after OSU gave a great effort in a 71-56 loss against the then-No. 1 Bruins Jan. 4, adding he will game-plan off that UCLA film.

    “”I think when you have games like that, it’s hard to understand what happened that made them play so well on Thursday and so poorly on Saturday,”” Olson said. “”But I think that you saw the old peak-and-valley thing was because they were really excited about getting the chance to play that team on Thursday.

    “”We know that when anyone plays us they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game.””

    The Wildcats are coming off a loss for only the second time all season after Arizona lost to Washington State Saturday on the road for the first time since 1986, more than two years before freshman forward Chase Budinger was born.

    Before the loss, Arizona had been riding a 12-game winning streak.

    “”You’re not going to go 30-0, so you’re going to lose a game or two,”” Williams said. “”I think we have the leadership, and I think we have people who have gone through losing seasons and winning seasons, so I think that’s a good balance as far as knowing what to expect and knowing how to come back.””

    The Wildcats stand in the thick of a conference schedule that features four teams ð- including Arizona – tied for the conference lead, two more squads a half game back and Washington starting slow but still considered a quality team. Right now, every conference game carries weight.

    “”We’ve got to bounce back,”” Budinger said.

    The friendly confines of McKale will give Olson a little more confidence to use his bench after the starters averaged over 38.1 minutes per game on the Washington trip. The starters played all but 13 minutes against the Huskies, and Olson did not go beyond guard Daniel Dillon and forward Jordan Hill against the Cougars.

    Olson said there are “”carryover effects”” when young players make mistakes on the road, which made him reluctant to go to the bench.

    “”Being back at home will give us an opportunity again to get our freshmen more time and utilize our bench more than we’ve been able to,”” he said.

    As for deciding what words will fire his Wildcats up before the game, Olson may be wise to focus on what the contest can mean to Arizona, rather than who’s on the other side of the court.

    “”We want to get on another long winning streak,”” Williams said.

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