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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wildcats reload for next season

    Arizonas Ivan Radenovic shoots over Stanfords Matt Haryasz during the second half of Arizonas second-round Pac-10 Tournament game against Stanford on March 9 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Radenovic will be one of Arizonas senior leaders next season.
    Arizona’s Ivan Radenovic shoots over Stanford’s Matt Haryasz during the second half of Arizona’s second-round Pac-10 Tournament game against Stanford on March 9 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Radenovic will be one of Arizona’s senior leaders next season.

    When Lute Olson was at Iowa, his late wife Bobbi told a reporter, “”Lute has created a monster.”” If taking the Hawkeyes to one Final Four created a monster, then four Final Fours and 19 straight 20-win seasons means Olson has created Godzilla and Frankenstein rolled into one as Arizona’s head coach.

    With the offseason just four days old, expectations have already been established for the 2006-07 season, a year Olson hopes will be more like a Tucson street than San Francisco’s Lombard Street.

    “”I hope we have created a monster because that’s an indication that there’s a reason to feel very proud of what’s been done here. … We hope to continue creating monsters,”” Olson said.

    Departing are senior guards Hassan Adams and Chris Rodgers and senior forward Isaiah Fox, as the Wildcats make way for incoming freshmen forward Chase Budinger (Carlsbad, Calif.), guard Nic Wise (Kingwood, Texas), and forward Jordan Hill (Lenoir, N.C.). Because of the departure of sophomore guard Jesus Verdejo, who transferred to South Florida before the season, Arizona has an additional scholarship as well, one that may be used on Darrell Arthur (Dallas, Texas), a 6-foot-9 power forward ranked third at his position by the recruiting Web site

    “”We’re still looking around,”” Olson said of his recruiting for 2006.

    Along with the recruiting class, Olson brings back four starters and redshirting sophomore guard Jawann McClellan, who missed all but two games of this season with a wrist injury and academic ineligibility.

    “”You take a lot of positives because you have guys like (junior guard) Mustafa Shakur, (freshman forward) Marcus Williams, (junior forward) Ivan Radenovic and (junior center) Kirk Walters are back – plus with our recruiting classes, we’re going to be loaded next year,”” Arizona assistant coach Josh Pastner said.

    Because of the way Shakur ended his season and the skills Williams showed throughout the season, the two may hear the NBA calling their names.

    “”If anyone (declared for the NBA draft), I would think the first one would probably be Mustafa,”” Olson said. “”There has been some discussion that Marcus would do that. They may test the waters. I think both of them would come back with recognition of All-American-type teams, which I think will be beneficial for us.””

    Shakur, whose outside shooting has been questioned, went 7-of-9 on 3-point field goals in his last two games and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of almost 3-to-1.

    “”If he keeps building on (the last two games) into next season, he’ll have a chance to be an All-American,”” Pastner said.

    As for the team’s shooting, Olson expects it to be improved.

    “”We’re going to be a much, much better shooting team,”” Olson said.

    With McClellan, who Olson said would have been the team’s best shooter this season, an improved Williams, who despite going for 0-of-6 against Villanova was the team’s best 3-point shooting threat, and the sweet-shooting Budinger, the Wildcats expect to rely on their perimeter threats much more next year.

    Olson said Williams still needs to fix a kink in the rotation on his shot, which he said is caused by Williams holding his off-hand on the ball in the wrong place.

    Despite that chink in the armor, Williams’ improvement has made Olson say “”I told you so”” about his preseason prediction that Williams was the best of the freshmen from the Seattle area, which included many heralded recruits. The speed of his improvement, however, may be detrimental to Arizona in the long run.

    “”He’s a guy that we’re probably not going to see around here for a whole lot of additional years,”” Olson said.

    Shakur said the team wasn’t hurt by a lack of good shots this past season but by the fact that shots just didn’t fall.

    “”The best thing you can do is get in the gym and work on it all summer,”” he said. “”If that’s your weakness in your game as far as us as a team, just get in the gym and work on it, that’s all you can do.””

    Coming off the bench, Arizona will look to current sophomore guard Daniel Dillon, walk-on sophomore forward Bret Brielmaier, redshirt freshman forward Mohamed Tangara, and freshmen guard J.P. Prince and forward Fendi Onobun.

    Olson did not put to rest rumors that Prince, who did not play in five games because of a coach’s decision, may transfer but would not disclose his thoughts on the possibility either.

    “”Speculation is what this city is all about,”” Olson said.

    It will be the elder statesmen on the team – Shakur, Radenovic and Walters – who must assume the leadership role for Arizona’s chemistry to mix well.

    “”(We like) the leadership that we will get from our seniors in Ivan, who stepped up this year, and Mustafa, who stepped up in terms of communicating more and being more of a factor with leadership,”” Olson said. “”I think Kirk’s personality has developed a lot and (is) going to more so in the summer.””

    For the 24th year, Olson will try to mold yet another Arizona group into NCAA championship contenders.

    “”It’s an exciting team to look forward to,”” he said.

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