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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Miller gets first look at his team

Colin Darland  / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats kicked off the 2009-2010 Mens Basketball Season at McKale Memorial Center November 1st, 2009 with the annual Red/Blue game.
Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats kicked off the 2009-2010 Men’s Basketball Season at McKale Memorial Center November 1st, 2009 with the annual Red/Blue game.

The lights were dimmed in McKale Center on Sunday afternoon, and last season’s men’s basketball pre-game video was played on the video board, with a few tweaks.

As Kevin Rudolf’s catchy “”Let it Rock”” tickled the eardrums of the 8,100 in attendance, the video showed new men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller walking across the new Block A logo that has replaced a ring that read “”Lute & Bobbi Olson Court”” at mid-court.

Change is here. The Sean Miller era has begun — unofficially.

Before the start of the intrasquad scrimmage, Miller, who spent the last five seasons as Xavier’s basketball coach, walked across the court to address the crowd.

“”The feeling I had as a visiting player (in McKale Center), the feeling we had when we got off the bus was the feeling I’m so excited to give to the other team from this point on,”” Miller said.

Before tipoff, the pep band called out “”Hi, Sean!”” just like they used to do with Russ Pennell.

And Kevin O’Neill.

And Lute Olson.

It seemed as if the salutation from the band was prouder and more confident than it had been in the past few seasons. They know Miller is here to stay.

But tradition is still an important part of the program. Olson, Arizona’s head coach for a quarter of a century, sat behind the bench on the south side of the court for the second half after receiving a standing ovation at the end of halftime.

Freshman Lamont “”Momo”” Jones walked up to Olson and shook his hand as the Hall-of-Fame coach sat down.

And on the south side of the arena, the new Sweet 16 banner hung from a rafter, celebrating the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament showing last year under interim head coach Russ Pennell.

Symbols of the past, present and future of the Arizona men’s basketball team filled the arena.

“”The strongest feeling I have about today is just the incredible atmosphere that McKale presents,”” Miller said. “”It’s such an amazing, unique place.””

A different format

Last year the Wildcats didn’t even finish their annual Red-Blue game because Brendon Lavender and Fendi Onobun were cramping toward the end of the scrimmage. The result was a 42-42 tie with about five minutes left in the second half.

This year’s game was played in four eight-minute quarters, rather than two 20-minute halves. At halftime, Miller had eight players switch teams to create different matchups and scenarios.

“”For our first go at it, I was pretty impressed,”” said junior forward Jamelle Horne. “”We’ve got a lot of young guys, and I feel like we did a lot of good things, but there’s always a lot to work on.””

Déjà vu

Last season, point guard Nic Wise showed up to the Red-Blue game with a medical boot on his left foot. He had sprained his ankle in an earlier practice when he jumped up and landed on a teammate’s foot.

Wise suited up for the blue team Sunday and jogged onto the court, but didn’t play because he suffered a sprained ankle in practice last Tuesday.

Wise, who played with calf socks on both legs throughout most of last season, wore only one black calf sock Sunday.

Hello, Garland

Sophomore guard Garland Judkins scored 12 points in 32 minutes of play in his first competitive outing since being suspended by Pennell and missing the final 11 games last season.

“”It was good to be back out there,”” Judkins said. “”It’s been almost a year since I’ve played in front of a substantial crowd. It’s a little different than playing in the Rec, I’ll tell you that.””

 

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