Arizona Basketball

Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs vs. Arizona Wildcats — Three top storylines



A tweet by Gardner-Webb coach Tim Craft about McKale Center, where his team faces No. 3 Arizona tonight

A tweet by Gardner-Webb coach Tim Craft about McKale Center, where his team faces No. 3 Arizona tonight

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Top three storylines for tonight’s game:

1. The baskets are 10-feet tall at McKale Center like they are at Paul Porter Arena.

But the atmospheres are so much different. Gardner-Webb of the Big South Conference plays its home games in Porter Arena, capacity 3,500. The school from Boiling Springs, N.C., (population 4,607) just hosted Brevard in the home opener Friday and won 78-63 in front of an announced crowd of 458.

McKale Center will likely have more than 14,000 fans in McKale for tonight’s game that starts at 7 p.m. Tucson time.

How about this for a transition? After playing the No. 3 Wildcats tonight, Gardner-Webb travels back home to face Toccoa Falls on Friday night.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs played at LSU in the season-opener and led at halftime 43-42 before losing 93-82 in front of only 6,745 spectators at the Pete Maravich Center. In front of a sparse crowd, they recently upset Clemson 72-70 at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, although the word “upset” is used mildly. Clemson lost to another Big South team — Winthrop — at home earlier this season.

This is the fourth time the Runnin’ Bulldogs have played a team ranked among the top five in the nation. Gardner-Webb last played such an opponent on Dec. 29, 2009, and lost to No. 2 Texas 95-63 in Austin, Texas. The attendance for that game was 14,804.

The program’s biggest win was an 84-68 triumph over No. 20 Kentucky on Nov. 7, 2007, in front of 19,845 at Rupp Arena. That was Billy Gillespie’s second game in Lexington, a foreshadowing of what was ahead for the former coach.

2. Who has the better basketball alumni, Gardner-Webb or Arizona?

Overall, easily Arizona. At the very top is a different story.

Arizona’s best player in program history is Sean Elliott, who someday should go into the Basketball Hall of Fame because of his resume in college and NBA. Gardner-Webb boasts a Hall of Famer, Artis Gilmore, who like Elliott starred for the San Antonio Spurs.

Imagine how many Artis Gilmore references Bill Walton would say if he was broadcasting tonight’s game. It would be countless for the “A-Train”, as he was called.

Gilmore, 7’2″ and 240 pounds, played at Gardner-Webb when it was a junior college in the late 1960s. He remains the NBA’s career leader in field goal percentage (minimum 2,000 shots made) with 59.9 percent.

John Drew, who was banned from the NBA for repeated substance abuse, is also a Gardner-Webb alum. He played 13 seasons in the NBA for Atlanta and Utah.

The third and only other NBA player from Gardner-Webb was center Eddie Lee Wilkins, who backed up Patrick Ewing for parts of five years while with the New York Knicks.

3. Arizona is playing consecutive games against coaches who never played collegiately?



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Tip Time: 7:06 p.m. MST
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Roxy Bernstein/Don MacLean)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
Overall: Never met
Sean Miller vs. Gardner-Webb: 0-0


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The Arizona Daily Star’s Bruce Pascoe detailed in a great piece this week that Gardner-Webb coach Tim Craft was a baseball manager at Florida when Arizona coach Andy Lopez was with the Gators.

On Saturday, Arizona faces Gonzaga and coach Mark Few, who never played past Creswell (Ore.) High School.

Some other notable coaches who never played in college include the late Rick Majerus, Indiana’s Tom Crean, Baylor’s Scott Drew, Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams, Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin and South Carolina’s Frank Martin.

North Carolina’s Roy Williams never played for the Tar Heels’ varsity team.

“One of the most overrated thoughts out there is that if you weren’t a great player, you can’t be a great coach,” Martin told ESPN two years ago. “It’s a big fallacy.”

The same ESPN article quotes anonymously a head coach criticizing the hiring of former NBA players as assistant coaches because “they’re lazy.”

“If you were a star player, you were catered to, so some of them have problems catering to someone else,” the nameless coach is quoted as saying.

Try telling that to Arizona assistant Damon Stoudamire, who has the same kind of motor he showed as a player when it comes to recruiting and instructing the Wildcats.


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PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

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[table “” not found /] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also has published articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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