Arizona basketball: SIDELINES

2013-03-23T00:00:00Z Arizona basketball: SIDELINESBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Sleep deprived

Before they watched Harvard's upset over New Mexico together from press row Thursday, UA assistant coaches Book Richardson and James Whitford lived in a parallel universe all week.

Richardson watched video of Harvard while Whitford zeroed in on New Mexico, in case UA had a chance to play either of them after their opener against Belmont (which assistant Joe Pasternack scouted).

Fortunately for Richardson, the Crimson offered no big surprises Thursday over what he had seen in game video all year.

"What you try to do is you make sure what you saw on film is the same thing they do, because sometimes they may not be the same team as they were in December and January," Richardson said.

However, that didn't make life any easier for Richardson. He said the coaching staff was up until 3 a.m. Friday morning going over the Crimson, before he took a break for a few hours.

"I took a nap, got up, showered, and went back to work," Richardson said.

Pac-12 prospect

As a three-star wing out of Los Angeles, Harvard's Wesley Saunders received attention from several Pac-12 schools that included, at least on a peripheral basis, Arizona.

Saunders attended an elite camp at UA, and although he said he was not offered a scholarship, he had good vibes about the Wildcats.

"I liked the school," Saunders said. "I liked the coaches as well. They were great guys. It was a nice school."

UA liked Saunders, too.

"He was a very good young player, a great kid," UA coach Sean Miller said. "I can see why he's having such success at Harvard. We watched him a lot, and he was on several teams that we watch quite a bit in the summer."

Among those teams: The Compton Magic, for which UA guard Gabe York and former UA forward Jamelle Horne played.

Familiar foes

While Saunders is from the shadow of USC, UA center Kaleb Tarczewski grew up in New Hampshire and attended academic-minded St. Mark's School of Massachusetts, where he played against Harvard forward Laurent Rivard. Tarczewski said he also played travel ball with Harvard reserve Evan Cummins.

"It's going to be exciting to play against them, to see them again," Tarczewski said. "When we're on the court, it's going to be a battle, and we're excited for that."

Tarczewski actually drew early recruiting attention from Harvard coach Tommy Amaker but ultimately chose the Wildcats over Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.

"He wasn't your traditional St. Mark's student because of the height he has," Miller said. "But he is an excellent student. I think if he wanted to go Ivy League he could. It was just a matter of what he wanted to do. Thank goodness he came with us."

Harvard appeal

When discussing Saunders' recruitment, Richardson had just one question: "How do you turn down Harvard?" he said.

Apparently, that was the case with Saunders, Christian Webster, Laurent Rivard and the other Crimson players, who discussed their choice Friday.

"I chose Harvard because of the vision coach Amaker had for this program and Harvard being a world-class institution," Webster said.

Saunders, saying he also considered USC and Colorado, noted that "it had the academics, and the athletics were on the uprise."

Tight turnarounds

Thanks to a snowstorm that locked the Crimson into upstate New York after a 67-65 win over Cornell on Feb. 8, Harvard couldn't play Columbia until Feb. 10.

That was an unusually long break in an Ivy League schedule that usually has teams playing on Friday and Saturday nights. The Crimson was 3-1 on Saturdays after playing Friday night.

Basically, it's a super-condensed version of the Thursday-Saturday weekends that Pac-12 teams routinely had until their schedules were spread out more often this season.

"You have all week to prepare for two games, so we need to incorporate things in our practice to get us ready for both ball clubs," Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. "We don't talk about that second one until the first one is over."

One other concession: Amaker said he does not like to hold a pre-game shootaround before the Saturday games.

"I like to see if we can do things with our guys in the hotel to keep 'em off their legs and keep 'em fresh," Amaker said. "It's worked well for us in our conference."

West Region: No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 14 Harvard, 3:10 p.m. today, TNT, 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

He said it …

"They do a great job of preying on your weaknesses. If you have a big guy who can't defend the perimeter, they exploit you. They don't take bad shots. They run a lot of motion and work the play after the original play. Also, in transition, if they catch you sleeping, they'll punish you."

Book Richardson, Arizona assistant coach

He said it …

"We expect to see anything. They'll zone if they need to. If it's man-to-man, which they did against New Mexico, they do a great job using their disadvantage in size to an advantage. They'll corral (bigger opponents). They'll play help defense, and they'll try to pressure the ball."

Book Richardson, Arizona assistant coach

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


AP Top 25


Free Wildcats Sports Newsletter

University of Arizona sports news and blog headlines, delivered daily

Most Popular

Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Featured businesses

View more...

Deals, offers & events

View more...