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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Radenovic steps into leader role

    Arizona freshman forward Marcus Williams fights for a loose ball during the Wildcats 80-58 win over Oregon State Saturday. While Williams had a nice game of 16 points and five rebounds, Arizona was keyed by the play of Ivan Radenovic, who scored a career-high 26 points against the Beavers.
    Arizona freshman forward Marcus Williams fights for a loose ball during the Wildcats 80-58 win over Oregon State Saturday. While Williams had a nice game of 16 points and five rebounds, Arizona was keyed by the play of Ivan Radenovic, who scored a career-high 26 points against the Beavers.

    Ivan Radenovic is a jack-of-all-trades.

    He has led the Arizona men’s basketball team in at least one area in his last four games: in rebounds (10 against Southern California Feb. 2), in assists (six against UCLA Feb. 4), in rebounds and tied for the lead in assists (eight rebounds, six assists against Oregon Thursday) and finally in points, with a career-high 26 Saturday against Oregon State.

    While the Wildcats have gotten off to turtle-like starts this season, Radenovic has been the hare at the starting line.

    The junior forward scored four of the Wildcats’ first seven points, knocking down two mid-range jumpers, after Arizona head coach Lute Olson preached taking shots inside the 3-point line.

    “”I’m trying to get involved as much as I can,”” Radenovic said. “”(Senior guard) Hassan (Adams) couldn’t score in the first half and (junior center Kirk) Walters wasn’t in, and I had to do something about it, so I was more aggressive than usual.””

    Radenovic’s breakout game, topping his previous career high of 20, came at the right time, with leading scorer Adams playing his version of point forward, dishing out a career-high nine assists, many of which went to Radenovic.

    “”He was the man tonight,”” freshman forward Marcus Williams said of Radenovic. “”He was real aggressive. There’s not a lot of our men who are versatile like him who can shoot the ball, so you have to go for that, but he drives the ball well enough to get to the basket.””

    Oregon State tried to contain Radenovic, using multiple defenders – from beefy, 258-pound junior center Kyle Jeffers to slicker 230-pound senior forward Nick DeWitz to fellow international star, sophomore forward Sasa Cuic.

    “”Well, we started off with Cuic and tried to change guys guarding him,”” Oregon State head coach Jay John said. “”Sasa was defending him in the first half, and he certainly went off, and then we switched Kyle on him, but Ivan, he mixes things up real well.””

    Radenovic did mix it up, scoring 12 of his 18 first-half points inside the key.

    Pac-10 basketball standings
    School Pac-10 Overall
    UCLA 10-2 20-4
    California 9-3 15-6
    Stanford 8-4 12-8
    Arizona 7-5 14-9
    Washington 6-5 17-5
    USC 6-6 15-8
    Oregon 4-8 10-14
    Washington State 3-8 10-10
    Arizona State 3-9 9-12
    Oregon State 3-9 10-13

    “”I’m trying to mix it up a little bit, so when a slower player is guarding me, I try to go outside and take him off the dribble, and when DeWitz, who is a little bit shorter than me, (is guarding me) I’m trying to go inside and score inside,”” he said.

    As for Radenovic’s matchup with Cuic, who scored 16 points, 15 of which came in the first half, it wasn’t anything more special besides the Wildcats getting the win, Radenovic said.

    “”We’re pretty much from the same basketball school, so I know what he’s going to do,”” Radenovic said.

    “”(Cuic) made all his shots, he got to the foul line, (only) he missed a free throw,”” he added. “”I looked up at the scoreboard, and he had 15 points, and I was like, ‘Is it possible?’ He got better since we played last time. He got better going inside and posting up.””

    Radenovic has averaged 16.5 points in his last four games and has given the Wildcats a “”spark,”” said freshman forward Fendi Onobun.

    Olson said the coaches have devised a game plan that gets the ball to the inside players early, thus establishing those players as threats.

    “”It leaves the outside open,”” Williams said. “”I don’t think in the past they’ve felt they’ve had to guard inside because we weren’t doing a good job of throwing the ball into the big guys. Ever since the North Carolina game, coach (Olson) has emphasized it in practice.””

    When Arizona threw the ball inside, Radenovic knew what to do with it, shooting 12-of-21 from the field. He has shot an astounding 65 percent from the field in his last four games.

    As in the past, his confidence level often depends on his early-game performance.

    “”Sometimes, they give me open shots, and today I knocked down the first two shots and that gave me confidence for the rest of the game,”” Radenovic said.

    In the Jan. 12 contest at Oregon State, a 75-65 Arizona loss, Radenovic did not see similar results, scoring just five points, on 1-of-4 shooting from the field.

    “”In our place he didn’t hit a jumper,”” John said. “”Today at one time he hits two in a row … then he did a great job going to the glass for some put-backs and that type of thing, so we got to witness his career high.””

    Being an upperclassman, Radenovic has also shown more of a leadership role, pointing out different situations with what Olson called his “”high basketball IQ”” and motivating his teammates vocally.

    “”He’s communicating with the guys on the court,”” Olson said. “”We’re pleased with not only how he’s playing but the kind of job that he’s doing with his leadership on and off the court.””

    During a first-half break in the action, while the Beavers were attempting free throws, Radenovic yelled directions to Williams, who paused almost in disbelief, and then nudged Radenovic to slap fives.

    “”He had a phenomenal game,”” Williams said. “”I told him after the game, ‘Whatever you ate this morning you need to keep eating that.'””

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