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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Seniors say goodbye to McKale Center

    At every home game before the Arizona starting lineup is introduced, a video plays with a number of former players saying, “”We are Arizona basketball,”” followed by a shot of UA seniors Mustafa Shakur, Ivan Radenovic and Kirk Walters repeating that statement.

    While Walters has barely played this year and is expected back next year on a medical redshirt, Shakur and Radenovic will represent Arizona basketball for the last time in McKale Center as current players tomorrow on Senior Day, when the No. 19 Wildcats host No. 5 UCLA.

    “”These last four years have shot by for Ivan and Mustafa,”” said UA head coach Lute Olson. “”They are great people and good basketball players. They’re positive leaders for their teammates, and I look forward to us playing well on Saturday.

    “”Their teammates will work hard for them to get them a win.””

    The Wildcats will wear their red road jerseys as part of a “”Red Out in McKale Center,”” and a post-game ceremony honoring Shakur and Radenovic will also take place.

    Radenovic will be accompanied by his father after the game, while Shakur expects his parents and brother to attend if they can get out of Philadelphia, where they are snowed-in.

    “”It’s a really sad moment for the guys that have played their last game,”” Radenovic said, “”so I think it’s definitely going to be a sad moment for me saying bye to this home crowd and to Arizona basketball in McKale Center.””

    Arizona also hosted a Red Out for last year’s Senior Day festivities, a game the Wildcats lost to then-No. 14 Washington.

    “”It was a lot of energy, so I’m looking forward to it,”” Shakur said.

    UA head coach Lute Olson said a couple weeks ago Radenovic visited him and mentioned how his four years have gone by quickly.

    But Olson, in his 34th year as a head coach in college basketball, has been through this many times before.

    “”It’s always difficult, but yet for us to get a chance to coach those kids next year you have to have a turnover, and that’s just the way it is,”” he said. “”You hate to see guys (leave), especially after you work with them for four years, and you think they’re playing this way we thought they ought to be playing now, and then they’re gone.

    “”We’re just thankful now when we have them for four years.””

    As for what their teammates hope to get them for Senior Day, the answer is easy for sophomore Marcus Williams, who may be playing his last game in McKale Center as many expect him to leave early to enter the NBA Draft.

    “”A win definitely,”” he said. “”That’s a big game for them, a little emotional, but they’ll handle themselves fine.””

    Shakur echoed that statement, remembering back to last year when then-senior Hassan Adams missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game in his last shot in McKale in a 70-67 loss to the Huskies.

    “”Anybody knows a time like that you just want to go out with a win,”” he said. “”If you score 30 and you lose it’s not a good feeling, and I saw that with Hassan last year.””

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