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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Third-ranked wheelchair hoops team to play in only home matches of season

    The Arizona men’s wheelchair basketball team is ready to rock and roll. Literally.

    The Wildcats have a competitive lineup of four games this weekend, starting with a 1:15 p.m. contest against Oklahoma State today in the Campus Recreation Center. They play University of Texas-Arlington tonight at 5 p.m., Missouri at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, then Alabama at 5 p.m.

    The Arlington game highlights the UA tournament. The Wildcats and Mavericks play each other roughly three times a year.

    “”It’s been back and forth the last couple of years,”” said UA guard Mike Applegate, a psychology senior. “”They beat us at nationals last year, but we took the first game against them this year by two points.””

    Currently Arizona, under the direction of head coach Derek Brown, is in third place in the nation. Arlington is in fourth place.

    “”We’re always battling for third or fourth in the country,”” said Eric Harris, a senior forward double majoring in political science and Africana studies. “”It’s always pretty heated.””

    The Wildcats practice four times per week and spend three days per week working on strength and conditioning at the Disability Resource’s Jim Click’s Adaptive Athletic Gym.

    One of the weakest points of the team at this stage in the season, however, has nothing to do with physical skill.

    “”We’ve had some mental issues with layups sometimes,”” Applegate said. “”We’re trying to cut down on turnovers and stuff like that, but we’ve been doing pretty well.””

    There aren’t too many differences between wheel-chair basketball and able-bodied basketball. The goal of putting the ball in the hoop remains the same, but there are a few tweaks.

    “”You get two pushes for every dribble,”” Harris said. “”Other than that, most all the other rules are the same … We haven’t had our 3-point line moved back, though. We’re still playing on the high school 3-point line.””

    There’s also a lot more contact than one might think.

    “”We can -ÿnot hold them -ÿbut you’re allowed to stop their momentum,”” Applegate said. “”It’s faster paced than I would say most people would think it would be.””

    With a decent performance this weekend, the Wildcats could improve their chances to capture a higher seed for the NCAA wheelchair basketball tournament in March, in White Water, Wis.

    “”Our goal for this tournament,”” Harris said simply, “” is to win every game.””

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