By Roman Veytsman
SAUL LOEB/Arizona Daily Wildcat
UA senior shooting guard Salim Stoudamire drives past a defender during the Wildcats' first-round victory over the Toreros Tuesday night in McKale Center. Arizona faces Wright State in Round 2 tonight.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 18, 2004
The Arizona men's basketball team dispatched San Diego Tuesday night, but the Wildcats have a lot to improve on before they take on Wright State tonight at 7 in McKale Center in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament. After an impressive performance in the first half, the Wildcats struggled to score and to defend for much of the second half in their 80-69 win over San Diego.
"We had an excellent first half but the second half was terrible," Salim Stoudamire said.
Channing Frye and Hassan Adams combined for just 12 points, each shooting just 3 of 12 from the field. Mustafa Shakur took over the scoring duties, pouring in 23 points, to go along with his 8 rebounds and 7 assists. While he was mostly a distributor last season, Shakur is looking to do whatever it takes to win.
"I was a good scorer in high school and I don't think people realize that," Shakur said. Hassan, Salim, and Channing all did a great job of finding me and I hit my shots."
Arizona used only an eight-man rotation, and only two of the freshmen played, after much talk about the added depth prior to the season. Against Wright State, the rotation figures are to lengthen with the addition of Isaiah Fox after he was held out for disciplinary reasons.
"When Isaiah gets back on Thursday, we'll get another rotation on the inside," said head coach Lute Olson.
Olson used a short rotation because he felt the veterans are still way ahead of the freshmen in practice, and with the game a little short of a blowout, experience was a factor down the stretch.
Judging from the San Diego game, sophomore forward Ivan Radenovic is looking to increase his role with the Wildcats this year after seeing limited playing time last year. Radenovic scored 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and felt more comfortable on the court by all accounts.
"His confidence is getting back up there with his jump shot and just making moves off the dribble," Shakur said. "He's starting to understand the college game more compared to overseas."
Radenovic's contribution was much needed as Frye struggled for most of the game, despite dishing out seven assists from the post.
"Channing did a great job of hitting the off side guy, making good passes," Shakur said. "That's what we expect out of Channing every game, to do something else that will help us win."
Most of the talk in the locker room after the game was centered on a lack of closing out an opponent. The Wildcats led by 24 at one point in the second half, but didn't do the little things to maintain their big lead.
"I think you definitely have to have that killer instinct," Shakur said. "We need to focus on the details."
Some of those details include help defense, better defensive rotations, and doing a better job of denying passes for 40 minutes.
"That's what we have to work on, just getting better each game," Shakur said. "I think it's going to come, we're showing good signs."
Wright State upset Tulsa in their first round matchup defeating them 72-66 in overtime.
"Everyone thought we'd be playing Tulsa on Thursday," Olson said. "I said that if we do win the first game, I would not be surprised to play Wright State because they're a very veteran ball club."
Wright State was led by DaShaun Wood, who scored 22 points, 15 of which came in the last seven minutes and overtime. Drew Burleson was the second-leading scorer, with 17 points and a key rebound down the stretch.
Wright State had a 14-14 record last season, including 10-6 in the Horizon league. Along with Wood and Burleson, the Raiders have 6-foot-7 transfer Zach Williams from Ohio State, who scored 10 points in his first game in the program.
If the Wildcats advance, they will play Michigan, who won its second-round game last night. But as Tulsa experienced, Wright State is no pushover.
"Sometimes there are teams that are in this that you don't know a whole lot about, but they're good, and Wright State is one of those," Olson said.