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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Men’s hoops opens year with Red-Blue Game

    After an offseason to contemplate its first-round NCAA Tournament loss, the Arizona men’s basketball team returns to the floor tonight at 7 p.m. for the annual Red-Blue Game chock full of new additions.

    Along with five incoming freshmen, the Wildcats’ Kevin O’Neill-coached defense will be on public display in McKale Center for the first time, giving fans their chance to see what kinds of strides Arizona has made thus far in practice with the help of their new unofficial defensive coordinator.

    “”I think that’s going to be pretty obvious right away when we have the Red-Blue Game,”” said UA head coach Lute Olson. “”You’re going to see it on both ends of the court.””

    In what amounts to an intrasquad scrimmage, guards Jawann McClellan, Laval Lucas-Perry and Lucas Spencer, forwards Chase Budinger and Jamelle Horne, and center Alex Jacobson will play for the Red team against the Blue team’s roster of guards Jerryd Bayless, Daniel Dillon, Nic Wise and David Bagga and forwards Bret Brielmaier and Mohamed Tangara.

    Center Kirk Walters and forward Zane Johnson will suit up for both squads, while forwards Jordan Hill (knee sprain) and Fendi Onobun (shin injury) will not play.

    Walters will play for the first time in front of fans since a one-minute stint Dec. 9 at San Diego State after missing all but three minutes last season battling mononucleosis, which led him to receive a medical redshirt for this season.

    Olson said Walters’ blood tests have come back normal since May, but thus far he has not been the same player in practice.

    “”At this point he feels heavy-legged and like he’s dragging something behind him when he’s running,”” Olson said. “”He’s not as quick off the floor as he was, so whether that’s going to be solved as he gets back to playing after sitting out, being out a year, we’ll have to see.””

    The team will take the floor to creative introductions that get the crowd going, after Arizona chose to hold an official practice instead of fan-friendly event McKale Madness when practice started earlier this month, said UA assistant coach Josh Pastner.

    “”It’s always good to let the fans see the new freshmen, new faces and new

    uniforms,”” Onobun said. “”I’m excited, man. I think instead of having Midnight Madness and having a three-hour practice, it was actually a good idea.””

    Arizona’s five freshmen – Bayless, Horne, Laval-Perry, Jacobson and Johnson – will get to see what it’s like to play in front of a college crowd after spending much of the fall semester in similar scrimmage situations.

    “”The atmosphere’s a little different,”” Pastner said. “”If there’s a crowd, it will be a game-like situation and they’ll treat it like a game-like situation.

    “”I think it’s very good for the freshmen,”” he added. “”It’s going to make it fun for them and get them ready as well.””

    And 1

    Carriers of the “”Red”” Zona Zoo pass receive free admission. Adult tickets cost $6 and children’s $3 … The Arizona Adaptive Athletics Wheelchair basketball team will play an annual contest at 6 p.m. before the scrirmmage.

    – Lance Madden contributed to this story

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