By Patrick Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Things are slowly starting to take shape for the Arizona men's basketball team, with the season opener against Long Beach State in the preseason National Invitation Tournament now eight days away.
After seeing his team in action last Thursday in the Red-Blue scrimmage, head coach Lute Olson has started to work the top six or seven players in practice.
At this point, the top seven are (in no order of importance): Reggie Geary at point guard, Miles Simon at the two guard, some combination of Michael Dickerson, Corey Williams and Joe McLean at the three spot, and Ben Davis and Joseph Blair, who are interchangeable at four and five.
But with the play of freshmen Jason Terry and A.J. Bramlett, the Wildcats are in the enviable situation of going perhaps nine players deep. In the Red-Blue game, Terry, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Seattle's Franklin High School, had 13 points Ÿ including a 3-for-5 performance from the three-point line - seven assists and four rebounds, but committed seven turnovers. Bramlett, a 6-11 forward from La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, N.M., had 15 points and 12 rebounds.
"Our depth is developing nicely," Olson said. "No one expected Jason and A.J. to be as far along as they are. Based on how they played in the Red-Blue game, it doesn't look like we'd lose a whole lot with them in the game."
Olson said players who get rebounds will get playing time, and while Bramlett does not have the bulk of Blair or Davis Ÿ he weighs 205 pounds while Blair and Davis go 265 and 240, respectively Ÿ the freshman said it takes more than a big body to get rebounds.
"The balls just seem to come to me," Bramlett said. "I've been able to get my fair share of boards, but size does not matter if you get in a good position to get the rebound."
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Another pleasant surprise has been the transformation of Blair's foul shooting.
A career .482 foul shooter who shot .465 from the line last season, Blair suddenly has become a force at the line, hitting 10-of-12 in the Red-Blue game. Olson said Blair has had similar results during practice, estimating his proficiency at about 73 percent.
"Those numbers are consistent Ÿ I think he's even getting a little better," Olson said. "He just had to find a comfortable way for him to shoot."
Blair, who expects to see substantial time at the line this season because of the new post-oriented offense, spent the summer shooting about 100 foul shots every time he practiced.
"I try to do the same thing every time I shoot. I had a couple of different patterns before," Blair said. "I never really felt uncomfortable before, but I did this to build up confidence."
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Olson said he was pleased with the play of Geary in the Red-Blue scrimmage. The senior guard had eight points, eight rebounds (all defensive) and six assists in the game, to go along with just two turnovers.
"After breaking down the tapes of the game, it was clear Reggie was the most dominating player on the floor," Olson said. "He was strong on defense, was our strongest leader on the floor and had only two turnovers against a team that knows what (plays) you're running."
Olson said Geary's production in defensive rebounding was an area the guard could exploit, and that those skills will be crucial for creating fast-break opportunities for the Wildcats.
"He won't have to check his guy off because his guy (the opposing point guard) won't go to the boards," Olson said. "That means break opportunities for us because he can get up the court quickly with the ball."
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