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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Chemistry the key so far this season

    Arizona forward Ivan Radenovic tries to get by Stanford forward Taj Finger in the No. 7 Wildcats 89-75 win over the Cardinal Saturday in McKale Center. The Wildcats hit the road this weekend for the first time in conference play, facing No. 24 Washington on Thursday and Washington State Saturday.
    Arizona forward Ivan Radenovic tries to get by Stanford forward Taj Finger in the No. 7 Wildcats’ 89-75 win over the Cardinal Saturday in McKale Center. The Wildcats hit the road this weekend for the first time in conference play, facing No. 24 Washington on Thursday and Washington State Saturday.

    The No. 7 Arizona men’s basketball team heads to the Pacific Northwest on Thursday in search of its 12th consecutive win.

    The Wildcats (11-1, 2-0 Pac-10) will square off against No. 24 Washington (10-3, 0-2) in Seattle on Thursday night at 8:30 on FSN before traveling to Pullman, Wash., on Saturday to take on Washington State (12-2, 1-1) at 8 p.m. on FSNA during the first conference road trip of the season.

    The Wildcats just completed a home sweep of the Bay Area schools, defeating California 94-85 last Thursday and then dispatching Stanford 89-75 two days later.

    Arizona has not lost since dropping its season opener to Virginia on November 12.

    The last time Arizona won 12 consecutive games was in 1997-98 when the Wildcats ran off 19 straight wins.

    The key to the Wildcats’ early season success is an ingredient that was missing from the recipe last season, team chemistry.

    “”This is the best chemistry I’ve ever played with on a team, ever,”” said senior point guard Mustafa Shakur.

    “”It makes it a great experience and a great time, so hopefully we can keep it going because I’m having a lot of fun out there.””

    Last year a dark cloud hung over the team for much of the season. The team’s leading scorer, current New Jersey Net Hassan Adams, was arrested twice over the course of the year while Chris Rodgers was suspended for eight games in the middle of the season. (Adams was acquitted of driving under the influence).

    Couple that with sporadic and sometimes selfish play on the court and it made for quite a trying season, something rarely seen in these parts. All that dysfunction was hardly conducive to the formation of a united team.

    But things are drastically different this season, and it is showing on the court during the winning streak. The ball movement has been spectacular at times, with players often giving up good shots for teammates with even better ones.

    Twice this season an Arizona player has given up an easy fast-break layup in order to throw the ball off the backboard for a teammate. Those plays not only electrified the crowd but showed just how unselfish this team is. The second alley-oop off the glass was thrown by guard Jawann McClellan late in the Stanford game.

    The key to attitude change can be largely attributed to seniors Shakur and forward Ivan Radenovic. Their play has set the tone for a young team on the verge of accomplishing big things, UA head coach Lute Olson said.

    “”I think Mustafa and Ivan have been the key to (the chemistry), but everyone adds their part,”” Olson said.

    “”I’m just pleased with the kind of chemistry and attitude they have towards one another.””

    And 1

    Ivan Radenovic was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week for his performances against California and Stanford. Radenovic averaged 19.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in leading the Wildcats to a pair of victories. When asked about the honor he replied, “”I have nothing to say about it, it is a good personal honor. I tried to be very aggressive and get two wins and that’s it, I didn’t plan to get any awards.”” It is the first time Radenovic has won the award in his career. …

    Forward Marcus Williams is making his homecoming on Thursday. The Seattle native said the Washington game doesn’t hold any special meaning, but added that he was looking forward to seeing his family because he did not go home for Christmas.

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