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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wheelchair hoops rolls through home tournament

Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona men’s wheelchair basketball team meets the Kings at the Recreation Center, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 14, 2009. The 2009 UA Annual Wheelchair Basketball Fall Tournament ran over the weekend.

The Arizona men’s wheelchair basketball team quickly rolled through its competition this weekend in its first home tournament of the season.

The Wildcats (6-0) remain undefeated after beating the Phoenix Banner Wheelchair Suns and the Albuquerque Kings twice each in the Student Recreation Center.

“”We seem to be very cohesive right now and the guys are really getting along,”” said UA head coach Derek Brown. “”I think they’re buying into a family environment. The camaraderie is excellent at this point in the season.””

The Wildcats came into Sunday morning’s game against the Kings with authority, starting on a 22-0 run with scorching 11-for-12 shooting from the field.

Arizona led 58-28 at halftime with 76 percent shooting. The Wildcats shot at 72 percent for the game, scoring 51-for-71, 72 percent.

Brown said the team’s triangle-and-two defense was the reason for its uptempo offense on the other end of the court.

“”We really stress them getting to the outlet spots and getting the ball up the floor, and really pushing the pace,”” Brown said. “”Teams we face are going to really need to be ready to handle the fast-pace tempo of our offense.””

Added senior Mike Applegate: “”We’re a pretty fast team for our division. We’re just trying to go as fast as we can, and so far it’s worked.””

Hosting the tournament is special for the Wildcats, not only for their level of comfort, but because of who they are able to play in front of.

“”The people in charge of the (Disability Resource Center) and adaptive athletics never get to see us play,”” said senior Eric Harris, “”so it’s great that they get a chance to watch us when we have these home tournaments.””

This season, Arizona switched from the Intercollegiate Division of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association it has been a part of in the past to the Championship Division, which consists mostly of adult and NBA-sponsored teams.

Next week the Wildcats will take on the Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks and the Utah Wheelin’ Jazz, which are ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in the nation, respectively, in the Championship Division.

“”I think we have a great group of 12 guys,”” Brown said. “”We don’t have a lot of ego issues. I think everybody is buying into their roles as individual players to make the team as great as it can be.””

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