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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Radenovic’s defensive role integral in stopping Villanova

    Arizonas Ivan Radenovic tries to grab a loose ball from UCLAs Ryan Hollins during the first half of Arizonas semi-final Pac-10 Tournament game against UCLA, Friday, March 10, 2006 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)
    Chris Coduto
    Arizona’s Ivan Radenovic tries to grab a loose ball from UCLA’s Ryan Hollins during the first half of Arizona’s semi-final Pac-10 Tournament game against UCLA, Friday, March 10, 2006 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Arizona Daily Wildcat)

    Sitting next to senior guard Hassan Adams and junior guard Mustafa Shakur at Saturday’s press conference, junior forward Ivan Radenovic looked flat out bored.

    With his higher profile teammates drawing the bulk of the attention, Radenovic may not be the media’s go-to guy but he will be Arizona’s go-to guy. With all eyes on Villanova’s guards, Radenovic will be the man responsible for shadowing at least one of four players averaging more than 11 points per game.

    In the past, Radenovic has gone after wing players like former UCLA forward Dijon Thompson, USC guard Lodrick Stewart, or Oregon forward Jordan Kent, but never has he taken on the challenge of possibly guarding a player like Villanova’s senior guard Randy Foye.

    “”Obviously, I’ll have to guard one of the guards so I have to be ready for that challenge,”” Radenovic said.

    Radenovic, who stands 6-feet-10-inches, has the versatility to defend a number of positions but may have a difficult time in Arizona’s man-to-man defense.

    Against Washington, the Wildcats have been inclined to go to a 1-3-1 zone when the Huskies pose quickness problems for Arizona’s big men. In Tucson, though, Arizona played mostly man-to-man with Radenovic often stepping out on defense to play outside shooters.

    “”We felt that he can get out and guard most 3-men,”” associate head coach Jim Rosborough said. “”Whether he’s going to guard somebody smaller than that, with Foye being 6′ 4″” and quick as cat, so if we decide to go there, it’s going to be a concern for us.””

    On the other end of the floor, Radenovic may see even more post up opportunities. Against Wisconsin, Radenovic slithered around post defenders to get off one of his lefty baby hook shots or up and under moves for easy lay-ups. Against Villanova, he will have to use his bulk to shoot over defenders.

    “”They have to guard Ivan and he’s pretty good himself, so it goes both ways,”” assistant coach Josh Pastner said.

    “”He can go inside and out and he’s got size obviously if they put someone smaller on him and he’s smart enough with a high enough basketball IQ to be able to know who’s on him and be able to do different things to get to the bucket,”” Pastner said.

    Radenovic has averaged almost 19 points per game over the last three games to lead Arizona, and has shown he can be physical getting to the free throw line 10 times against Stanford.

    Still, Radenovic’s offensive game will take a backseat to his defensive game in terms of importance to Arizona’s chances of pulling the upset.

    “”I can’t remember that I had to guard that kind of offense,”” Radenovic said. “”I’ve switched onto some guards but this is the first time and I have to answer in the right way.””

    Radenovic has a knack for noticing opponents tendencies, including the six-steal game he had against Arizona State where he read the Sun Devils pick and roll and took advantage. However, he won’t be able to cheat against Villanova’s perimeter players, who all can shoot the 3-pointer and get to the basket.

    “”It’s not like they’re just penetrators, they can all shoot so you have to be ready for both,”” Radenovic said.

    Villanova’s offense has sometimes fallen down to one-on-one penetration but it is able to get away with penetrating and kicking because of the team’s ability to get close to the rim and kick out to opposing shooters.

    “”You have to take it kind of personally and contain your guy,”” Radenovic said.

    Though he may not yet be a household name in the United State, Radenovic may soon be in his native Serbia & Montenegro. The country will show the NCAA tournament on television for the first time this year and Radenovic hopes his game is the one that stands out.

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