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October 27, 2006

Wildcats impress in Red/Blue Scrimmage

If there was ever any indication that experience often beats out potential and athleticism, Thursday night's annual Red-Blue Game showed it as the veteran Blue Team defeated the Red Team of underclassmen 93-81.

Ivan Radenovic led the way, recording 35 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Team, proving again that he will be one of the top players in the Pac-10 this upcoming season.

The rest of the Blue Team included Daniel Dillon, Jawann McClellan, Mustafa Shakur and Mohamed Tangara. The Red Team consisted of Nic Wise, Fendi Onobun, J.P. Prince, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill.

Bret Brielmaier and David Bagga split time for both teams and both Kirk Walters and Marcus Williams sat out with injuries.

Maybe the most noteworthy stat from Thursday's game is that Shakur registered 13 assists to go along with 14 points. He really pushed the tempo and was again looking for the pass, especially when Radenovic was around. The two teamed-up for lots of points.

Speaking of Radenovic, he was dominant all game long. He had no trouble scoring in the low-post, shooting from range or taking his defender off the dribble. Not to mention that he shot 12-18 field goals and hit a pair of three pointers.

He is an extremely versatile player and creates a mismatch no matter what position is defending him. He is either taller than his defender or quicker than him.

A more intangible aspect of Radenovic's game is that he moves very well without the ball and always puts himself in a position to make a play or place a screen.

McClellan was a pleasant surprise as some people thought he might still need to get into better shape. He played a strong game and finished with 22 points and 6 rebounds. Most importantly, he was able to keep up with the tempo and was the recipient of a few Shakur outlet passes on fast breaks. He was the most accurate 3-point shooter going 3-5 on the night.

Dillon played tough defense against Wise all night, managing four steals to go with 11 points, while Tangara and Brielmaier were tough on the boards with seven and 10 rebounds respectively.

Wise led the Red Team with 22 points and five assists. He was particularly impressive in the first half, dictating the tempo and either finishing strong or making a sneaky pass to find the open man. Wise also has the longest range on the team and may already be the Wildcats' best shooter from distance, going 3-6 from behind the arc.

Budinger chipped in 20 points on the night but was up and down, making 8 of 20 from the field and only 2 of 8 from three with eight turnovers.

Another surprise was the play of Prince. He contributed 17 points, seven rebounds and four steals for the Red Team and took turns with Wise running the offense from the point. He looks a lot more under control and composed this season and his wiry frame and long arms are an asset on defense.

Hill looked good with six points, eight rebounds and two blocks but his seven fouls showed that he still needs to learn to be under control on the defensive end. But like the other freshmen, there is still great potential for him.

Onobun played a quiet game with eight points and wasn't involved in the offense very often. He is not a shoot-first player and did more to impact the game Thursday without the ball in his hands. He sets a very solid screen and tries to create for his teammates.

The excitement before this season focused on the skill and athleticism of this year's freshman, but it is the experience and leadership of the upperclassmen that could help drive this team to a national championship.

* GOAZCATS.com welcomes Tim Schultz to its staff of writers. Schultz graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism and will be contributing articles on the basketball team all season long.

Tim Schultz


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