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Cats primed for preseason debut

Jacob Konst/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Senior guard Chris Rodgers collides with sophomore forward Bret Brielmaier during the Red-Blue Game on Thursday. The Wildcats take on Sonoma State in McKale Center tonight for the team's first exhibition game of the season.
By Shane Bacon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 9, 2005
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Members of the Arizona men's basketball team have been battling hard against one another for the past three weeks in practice, and tonight they finally get a chance to go against another opponent.

The Wildcats play host to Sonoma State tonight at 7:30 in McKale Center in their first exhibition game of the season.

Sonoma State came to Tucson last year for an exhibition game that the Wildcats won 105-80, and Arizona head coach Lute Olson said in his weekly press conference yesterday that much of the same team will travel to McKale Center showing many of the same looks.

"Sonoma is primarily a man-to-man (defensive) team, but they have played some 2-3 zone, so hopefully we'll get a chance to see both defenses," he said.

The Wildcats will be showing a much different squad than last year, with the departures of guard Salim Stoudamire and center Channing Frye and the addition of freshmen who will see time right away.

Olson said the team's starting five will consist of the players who led their respective positions in rebounding during the Red-Blue Game and the McKale Madness intrasquad scrimmage.

Juniors Mustafa Shakur and Ivan Radenovic join senior forward Hassan Adams as the veterans on the court, as freshman Marcus Williams and redshirt freshman Mohamed Tangara will play small forward and center, respectively.

Olson said he has been impressed with the progress the Seattle native Williams has made in his short time at Arizona.

"We knew he was good, but I didn't think he would be this far advanced at this point," Olson said.

Williams said he is ready to get on the court and feel the experience of a NCAA basketball game.

"I'm just going to let the game come to me and feed off my teammates," he said. "I'm not going to try and rush anything."

The game is a chance for the team to see how they have progressed as individuals. Redshirt senior forward Isaiah Fox said this team has a lot of potential.

"Just in terms of talent, we're definitely as talented as any team (Olson) has ever had," he said. "We have a good unit of guys that like to play together, and I just can't wait to play."

Olson said that he will be interchanging players throughout the game. If they compete as much defensively as he hopes with the team's new type of press, there will be constant substitutions.

"I like what we're doing, and it takes advantage of our quickness and our depth," he said. "If (the players) play as hard as they need to play, there aren't going to be a lot of guys that can go over five minutes at a time."

Tonight's game marks the first chance for Arizona students to take advantage of the new student section in McKale that offers first-come, first-served seating.

"I think (the student section) is the best thing we've done since I've been here," Olson said. "Nobody will be yelling at you to sit down, and if you come late, you'll sit at the top, and that's how it should be."

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