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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Versus Column: Victor or Ristic?

Craig Victor 

There is no debating that this freshman class Arizona men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller brought in is stellar. 

Headlined by Stanley Johnson, the 2014 class has a little bit of everything: a speedy point guard in Parker Jackson-Cartwright, a skilled two guard in Kadeem Allen, a dominant wing in Johnson, a physical power forward in Craig Victor and a crafty European center in Dusan Ristic.

Johnson figures to start, Jackson-Cartwright should be the backup point guard and Allen is probably just a bench warmer. Where things get interesting is with Victor and Ristic. Both are talented enough to receive considerable backup frontcourt minutes, but Miller has traditionally kept his rotations tight, placing a priority on defense and athleticism.

Last year, he often went just seven or eight players deep and didn’t rotate his big men very often. This year, he’ll likely expand that rotation by a player or two based on the sheer depth of the roster. With both Victor and Ristic willing and able to play, Miller has a choice: Play Victor or Ristic.

Victor has more athleticism and is a more traditional Sean Miller-type player, whereas Ristic is a bit softer and needs to learn the intricacies of an elite collegiate defense.

The 6-foot-9, 230-pound power forward not only can bang down low, he is skilled enough to score in the post if need be. Not to mention he can hit an 18-foot shot with consistency.

The biggest difference between the two freshmen is defense. While not elite, Victor is a solid defender now and is only going to improve with playing time. He can take, and dole out, punishment in a major way.

At the annual McDonald’s Red-Blue Game this past weekend, Victor was mainly matched up against Brandon Ashley and showcased his inside-out game by scoring 12 points in a variety of ways. In more ways than one, he’s an Ashley-lite. Miller will have no problem playing Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski the bulk of frontcourt minutes, but when those two need a break, Victor is his guy.

— Roberto Payne


Dusan Ristic 

After his 14-point performance at the annual McDonald’s Red-Blue Game, the 7-foot Serbian freshman phenomenon Dusan Ristic proved he deserves consistent playing time this season, even with Arizona men’s basketball’s stacked team.

Returning are starting point guard T.J. McConnell, starting power forward Brandon Ashley, starting center Kaleb Tarczewski and dynamic sixth-man Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who will most likely start this year. Complimenting those players is a highly touted freshman class.

With Arizona’s emphasis on big men who can shoot, Ristic shot 7-8 from the field in the Red-Blue Game, proving he is not only consistent, but a post-move presence.

Throughout the exhibition game, Ristic shot over Tarczewski multiple times and was not afraid to go up against him. He showed a bevy of post moves including drop steps, hooks over both shoulders and an up-and-under move.

With the supposed starting lineup pretty much set, the Wildcats are looking for experienced big men to replace Tarczewski and Ashley when they go to the bench. Ristic is the answer.

He has professional experience from playing in Europe, even if he chose not to sign a professional contract with a club. None of the other Wildcats can boast that experience.

Of course, there are other options. Arizona could replace Tarczewski with freshman forward Craig Victor or senior forward Matt Korcheck. Both those players are talented enough to come off the bench. Ristic brings skill and fluidity, while Victor brings explosiveness and strength.

Ristic was ranked as a four-star recruit and the No. 15 center in the 2014 recruiting class by ESPN. One would assume that playing in a new atmosphere and country would get to an athlete, but not for Ristic. He seems to have fit right in to the team, not letting the language or the intimidation factor of playing for the No. 2 team in the country get to him.

Overall, if the Wildcats are looking to be successful, Ristic needs to be a factor in this offense. He can shoot from the outside, has some wicked post moves and is smart on the court.

— Matt Wall


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