By Craig Sanders
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson had stars in his eyes last night as he watched Arizona's own version of the "Dream Team" beat a team of NBA players in a charity basketball game at McKale Center.
The Wildcats came away with a 130-120 victory in the Wildcat Dream Invitational. The game featured 10 former Wildcats, primarily from the past decade, who have gone on to play in the NBA. The Wildcats' opponents, the Daydreams, were led by such NBA notables as Dan Majerle of the Phoenix Suns and Craig Ehlo of the Atlanta Hawks.
The game itself was a Wildcat fan's fantasy Ÿ a starting lineup of Khalid Reeves, Steve Kerr, Brian Williams, Sean Rooks and Jud Buechler and a bench made up of Sean Elliott, Anthony Cook, Matt Othick, Tom Tolbert and Arizona's second all-time leading scorer, Bob Elliott (no relation to Sean).
Two of the Wildcats' most notable players, Damon Stoudamire and Chris Mills, did not play in the game. Stoudamire is without a contract and did not want to risk injury and Mills was unable to attend because of prior obligations.
Former All-American Sean Elliott, who is also without a contract, played only one minute and 20 seconds because an injury would jeopardize the chance of a long-term contract, which he is trying to negotiate with the Spurs. He hit a three-point basket with about 39 seconds left in the first half.
The rest of the game lived up to its billing, with players on both sides playing run-and-gun basketball and showing off a variety of dunks and three-point baskets. Kerr hit three three-pointers, each followed by the announcer's bellow of "Steeeve Kerrr!" While the game never carried the intensity of a Pacific 10 Conference match, it was a chance for many Wildcat players to relive fond memories at McKale.
"It was fun," Reeves said. "It was just a great time for everyone."
"Whenever I have a chance to play basketball with the guys I do," Cook said. "It's such a great time, and it's for such a good cause."
The Wildcat Dream Invitational was organized by Dave Sitton of the Enterprise Group and sponsored by the Tucson Ford Dealers. Sean Elliott and the Chicago Bulls' Kerr hosted the event, which benefited Sporting Chance Youth Basketball, Guardianship of Southern Arizona and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson. It was announced the game raised over $100,000.
The Daydreams were led by the Seattle Supersonics' Sherrell Ford's 30 points. Majerle added 27, most of that coming on his five three-pointers. The Daydreams also got contributions from Chicago's Larry Krystkowiak, Phoenix's Joe Kleine and the Cleveland Cavaliers' Robert Colter and Danny Ferry. The Los Angeles Clippers' Pooh Richardson was unable to attend because his wife was giving birth.
Cook led the Wildcats with 23 points and was followed closely by Bucheler's 22. The wide-open style allowed every player to attempt at least one three-point shot.
The game also featured big men like Williams taking the ball coast-to-coast for a dunk and a finger roll by Bob Elliott.
"I'm really a guard at heart," Williams said with a grin.
Arizona senior Reggie Geary, who was in the locker room after the game, said to Bob Elliott, "You still got the finger roll I see."
"Finger roll, finger roll," said Elliott, pantomiming his move. When asked if he felt like a man among boys, Elliott said, "That's one way to put it."
"It got bad this morning when my kids told me to get the Grecian oil out so you don't embarrass yourself," said Bob Elliott, who played for Arizona from 1974-77. "I'm 40 and I don't think there was anyone here that was even 30. They were very respectable to their elders."
"You looked good today," Sean Elliott told Bob Elliott, jokingly adding, "We didn't need the fibrilator."
For many players, the game was the first chance to play in a competitive atmosphere since the NBA labor dispute began after the end of the season. The game was about 12 hours away from being an officially sanctioned event, but that did not bother most players. They were anxious to see that the league was back in business.
"I'm just glad it's over right now," Stoudamire said. "I see myself being there (in Toronto) for the first day of training camp."
Reeves, who is entering his second season with the Miami Heat, will be under the tutelage of Pat Riley, one of the NBA's most heralded coaches. Until recently, Riley has been unable to even contact his players.
"I don't know what kind of system will be put in," Reeves said. "I'm aware of his past success and I'm anxious to get back to camp. I'm ready to go in and work hard."
Sitton said he did not overlook the possibility of a Wildcat Dream Invitational II.
"We've been challenged and we've met the challenge," Sitton said. "Steve Kerr and I are going to have a cold beer and we're going to decide if there is going to be a Dream Game II."
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