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Pastner's notebook: Wildcats sharpen their claws on court

Josh Pastner
By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, November 9, 2005
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In this edition of Pastner's Notebook, Arizona men's basketball assistant coach Josh Pastner discusses last week's Red-Blue Game, the squad's possible starters at center, the importance of rebounding and the induction of Miles Simon into the UA Sports Hall of Fame.

Wildcat: In what area has the team made the biggest improvements since the start of practices?

Pastner: In two areas: our pressing defense and our motion offense. We're learning what we're doing, how we're doing it, why we're doing it. The cutting, the reading of the defense, the reacting - I think that's where we're really becoming better at it.

Wildcat: Who has taken the lead for the starting center position?

Pastner: It's too close to call. What's great about us this year is that we have great post depth. Last year, it was mostly Channing (Frye). This year we have some guys with Mohamed (Tangara), Kirk (Walters), Isaiah (Fox) and Bret (Brielmaier), along with Ivan (Radenovic), we have some guys that can do some damage. If you throw Fendi (Onobun) in the mix, too, we're deep in that area which is great because we have a chance to wear people down.

Wildcat: What's the key for Isaiah Fox to have a good season?

Pastner: He looks good, he's feeling good, he's running the floor. His biggest thing is that he has to make sure defensively he does not get behind the post player. That's the key for him. He has to make sure he fronts the offensive man in the post. He has to make sure that he doesn't travel when he catches the ball. He has to have that footwork down so there's no shuffle steps or anything and he doesn't get a travel call. Overall, he's made great improvements, and we're counting on him big time this year.

Wildcat: Can you assess last week's Red-Blue Game?

Pastner: I didn't think our offense was real good that game. I thought our effort was good, but I didn't think we put enough points on the board. We didn't push the break enough.

Wildcat: What's the team's goal for today's exhibition game with Sonoma State?

Pastner: To get better - to see where we are and to get better.

Wildcat: Arizona head coach Lute Olson traditionally starts the players who lead their position in rebounding for the first exhibition game. Why is that?

Pastner: So the individuals know how important rebounding is. Coach wants the players to know that the emphasis is on rebounding, and there is no joke about that. We're taking that seriously. (Rebounding) is the difference between winning and losing.

Wildcat: You were and still are good friends with (1997 Final Four Most Outstanding Player) Miles Simon, who was inducted into the UA Sports Hall of Fame this past weekend. What kind of honor was that for him?

Pastner: For him, what a great honor, a beautiful honor. He deserves it. ... That was something he should be very proud of. He's probably the reason we won the national championship. ... He's a great friend of mine and he's a great coach. The honor was well deserving for him.

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