ARIZONA BASKETBALL

15-3 Wildcats back in Top 25

2011-01-18T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T16:20:47Z 15-3 Wildcats back in Top 25Patrick Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 18, 2011 12:00 am  • 

The Arizona Wildcats were placed in the regular-season Top 25 for the first time in more than three years Monday, a symbolic return to a poll where the program once remained for a generation.

The team was ranked No. 25 in Monday's USA Today Coaches Poll, the by-product of a 15-3 record and 4-1 conference start.

Sophomore forward Derrick Williams was rewarded for his 31-point effort in Saturday's win against Arizona State with his second Pac-10 Player of the Week honor this season.

Behind Williams and having played one of the weakest parts of their conference schedule, the Wildcats are near the top of the Pac-10. Thursday's game at Washington has first place at stake.

"Every program wants to be part of the national ranking, and it's our goal to get this program back to the point where it's part of the poll from the preseason through the end of March," UA coach Sean Miller said in a statement.

The UA's coaches poll appearance is its first since the final rankings of the 2008-09 season, when interim coach Russ Pennell's squad reached the Sweet 16.

Before then, the Wildcats had not appeared in the coaches poll since Jan. 7, 2008.

Monday's ranking is tenuous.

The UA was six votes behind No. 24 Kansas State and only six ahead of West Virginia, the first team left out of the Top 25.

Monday's Associated Press Poll showed the Wildcats as the seventh-highest team outside the top 25, or the de facto No. 32 team in the county.

The UA has not appeared in the AP Top 25 since Dec. 31, 2007.

For years, the UA never left the polls. On Dec. 19, 2005, the team fell out of the AP rankings after a record 312 consecutive regular-season weeks.

Until the start of the 2008-09 season, the Wildcats had appeared in 336 of the previous 365 AP polls and 308 of the last 340 coaches polls.

Turner not playing

Josiah Turner, the Wildcats' star guard signee, won't play at Sacramento (Calif.) High School after all.

Sunday's Sacramento Bee quoted coach Derek Swafford as saying the senior "won't be with the team the rest of the season for violating athletic rules and regulations and team rules and regulations."

Turner had unexcused absences at games and practices this year, and Turner's mother, Doris Ward, told Sacramento High officials one week ago he was leaving.

Swafford said last week he still wanted Turner on his team, and it was believed that was where he would stay. But Swafford told the Bee that Turner's tenure ending "was my decision, clearly," with his administration's backing.

One source of Turner's frustration was that his scoring was diminished by five points per game because he was removed early from blowout wins.

The 6-foot-3-inch guard, ranked by Rivals as No. 10 overall player in the 2011 class, will continue to attend high school, Swafford told the Bee, because both Swafford and Arizona want him to.

Praising Hill

Miller on Saturday said Solomon Hill, whom he called "consistently our second-best player every day," is improving by the game.

"To me, watching him, he's doing more things in the game that he does every day in practice," Miller said.

The sophomore forward scored 11 points and collected four rebounds against ASU.

Hill admitted it was key because, when Williams is stifled, "everybody else seems to stand around and look for a way to score."

Hill is second on the team in scoring and rebounding, third in steals and fourth in assists.

Rim shots

• Arizona players have now received the Pac-10 weekly honor 78 times.

• Washington is the only other Pac-10 team represented in the Top 25, appearing at No. 20 in both polls.

On StarNet: Read more about Arizona basketball on reporter Bruce Pascoe's blog at go.azstarnet.com/pascoe

Up next

• Who: Arizona at Washington

• When: 8:30 p.m. Thursday

• TV: FSAZ

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

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