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Another Stoudamire steps up

Salim Stoudamire says he never doubts himself when he shoots the ball Ñ whether he's hit or missed five in a row. And he doesn't dispute his role with Arizona, a team that has seemingly reverted to the pre-Lute Olson days and become just ordinary.

'We'll be a pretty good team by the NCAA Tournament,' Stoudamire says. 'But we'll go as far as I go.'

Take last weekend, for example. The former Lake Oswego High standout scored 37 points in a win over Oregon and said, 'I want to play like this the remainder of the season, because when I play like this we're going to be hard to beat.'

Then he made little impact and scored only 12 points in a loss at Oregon State.

Stoudamire rarely talks after losses, UA beat writers say. 'Don't even come here, because I ain't sayin' (expletive),' he told reporters after the OSU game.

Stoudamire, the cousin of Blazer guard Damon Stoudamire, remains an enigma, even as Olson stresses that the junior needs be one of the team leaders. So great some nights. So average on others.

Olson agrees with Stoudamire. A lot rests on the 6-1 guard's shoulders. 'When he was shooting like he was (against Oregon), he draws everybody's full attention,' Olson says, adding, 'It's tough to get him open, the way people play him.'

Stoudamire's ability to can -3-pointers, many from NBA distance, opens up the Arizona offense. Penetrating for buckets opens up his game. This dawned on him recently against Stanford, and he proceeded to average 29.3 points and shoot 64 percent in a four-game stretch.

Olson says Stoudamire has amped up his personality and been more 'of a rah-rah guy.' The often moody Stoudamire admitted before the season that he needed to stay upbeat. 'When I have a sour look on my face, teammates look at that, and it affects them,' he said.

His sister, Karis, who runs Damon Stoudamire's foundation, says her talented little brother does not enjoy the spotlight, probably because he has been in it for too long. 'He's pretty quiet, really. Very observant,' she says. 'And he internalizes his intensity.'

Stoudamire admits to having one eye on the NBA, saying he never watches college games. As far as leaving early for the league, he says: 'I'm not even going to answer that question. I still haven't proven myself in college.'

Notes

Arizona has no seniors playing significant minutes, and the inexperience shows in the record: 17-7 overall, 9-6 in the Pacific-10 Conference. Five of the six league losses have been on the road Ñ the trend being poor defense, having given up an average of 90 points in those games. 'We have guys who take nights off,' Olson says. É Chris Rodgers, an Arizona guard from Wilson High, says the poor road performances 'are definitely a concern, but I think it'll help us grow up as a team. Getting that experience in tough road games will help us for the (NCAA) tournament.' É Both the Pac-10 tourney in two weeks and the NCAA Tournament will be on neutral courts. 'We have to just play together and we'll be OK,' Rodgers says.

John Mietus may or may not play tonight in Lewis & Clark's finale against Pacific. He hurt his right shoulder and missed Tuesday's win over Linfield. 'I might have to play left-handed for five minutes and call it good,' jokes Mietus, whose last healthy game saw him score 34 points and grab 17 boards against league champion Puget Sound and earn Division III national forward of the week honors. É The last NAIA Division II team standing? The Warner Pacific women (19-11) play Northwest College (19-12) in the Cascade Conference playoffs at 7 tonight in Kirkland, Wash. The Knights beat Evergreen 73-65 on Tuesday.

The Concordia men (20-13) won 20 games, then lost their last three, including Wednesday's 78-76 loss to Western Baptist in the Cascade playoffs. Senior Matt Ferrier had 21 points on 10 of 14 shooting in his final game. É The Oregon State women (14-11, 8-8 Pac-10) have a chance to knock off No. 10 Stanford at 3 p.m. Saturday in Gill Coliseum.

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