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Men Hoops: Olson impressed with freshmen, Radenovic

CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona's Ivan Radenovic looks for the open pass around during Arizona's victory over then-No. 10 Washington Thursday in McKale Center.
By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, February 2, 2005
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The Arizona men's basketball team played Saturday's 70-63 loss to Washington State without the services of junior guard Chris Rodgers but got some help from the bench.

Freshmen guards Daniel Dillon and Jesus Verdejo picked up some of the slack, playing eight solid minutes combined.

Head coach Lute Olson came away impressed with their efforts.

"I thought both Jesus (Verdejo) and Daniel (Dillon) played well," he said. "We should have played them more. At the time, you go with your veterans and you go with experience in that type of game."

Sophomore forward Kirk Walters also didn't see as many minutes as he has in the past, but he too will likely see more playing time in the future according to Olson.

"We have to start using Kirk (Walters) more and get his confidence more. He will be a key guy for us," Olson said.

Radenovic's progress pleases coaching staff

One of the few bright spots in the loss to the Cougars was sophomore forward Ivan Radenovic who put up 11 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes.

After having a subpar rebounding effort against Washington, Olson told him to hit the boards harder and he did just that.

"I had a chance to get those rebounds and I was just aggressive," Radenovic said. "When I look at last year and this year, I think I'm more consistent this year, especially in rebounding."

Olson said he is even more amazed at how well Radenovic is playing because he joined the team just midway through last season and is also nursing a hip pointer injury.

"He's one of our best defenders on the team," Olson said. "He's long on the perimeter. He uses his hands to challenge passes. He's a better shooter than he's shown, but some of that is confidence that will come with experience."

Radenovic has put in the work needed to raise his game to a new level said Olson.

"I've been spending lots of time after practice shooting and whenever I come on the court," Radenovic said. "I try to do something for the team. I think coach sees that."

Olson: Pac-10 players deserve more publicity

Olson said he is not satisfied with the job of the Pac-10 commissioner's office because he feels there are players in the Pac-10 who have the same amount of talent as the ACC, but lack the exposure.

"It's my feeling that the conference should do a better job of selling some of our players nationally," he said. "I think that's part of the conference's office responsibilities to make sure that our teams and our players get the national exposure that's deserved. Just like we can do a better job of doing what we do, I think the conference office needs to do a better job of what they do too."

Olson was specifically impressed with Stanford point guard Chris Hernandez, who lit up the Wildcats earlier in the year.

"I don't think there are many Hernandezes in this country," he said.

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