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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Young hoops players jump into exhibition

    Arizona freshman guard Garland Judkins jumps between freshman guard Kyle Fogg, left, and sophomore forward Zane Johnson in Saturdays Red/Blue intrasquad scrimmage in McKale Center. The younger Wildcats are still adapting to their individual roles on the team.
    Arizona freshman guard Garland Judkins jumps between freshman guard Kyle Fogg, left, and sophomore forward Zane Johnson in Saturday’s Red/Blue intrasquad scrimmage in McKale Center. The younger Wildcats are still adapting to their individual roles on the team.

    For those on the Arizona men’s basketball team not named Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill or Nic Wise, tonight’s exhibition game against Incarnate Word serves as yet another role-defining opportunity.

    Certainly, those three juniors will get the start for the Wildcats throughout the season, barring injury. But beyond that, UA interim head coach Russ Pennell is left with many options on the floor.

    Especially with this season’s crop of unknown freshmen, Pennell looks to use the next two exhibitions to tweak rotations and adjust lineups in preparation for the team’s first regular season game on Nov. 17 against Florida Atlantic.

    Tonight though, the Wildcats begin with Division II Incarnate Word of San Antonio at 7 in McKale Center.

    “”Right now, we’re starting to get into the season,”” Pennell said Tuesday. “”We’ll be trying to figure out who we’re going to play and that’s what these next two games are for.

    “”I think we’ll get a chance to get to look at everyone,”” he added.

    Freshmen Kyle Fogg and Garland Judkins impressed Pennell at last Saturday’s Red/Blue intrasquad scrimmage in different ways. Judkins, a 6-foot-3 guard, scored 16 points with six assists and six rebounds as point guard since Wise sat out with an ankle injury.

    Pennell described Judkins as a high-octane player who excelled due to the free-flowing offense. With a healthy Wise in the mix, however, the question lingers on whether Judkins would remain as the backup point guard, or whether a versatile Budinger would take that role.

    Pennell said that scenario would be determined by the opponent at this point. But in terms of further evaluating the current situation, Pennell called tonight’s exhibition an encore of the Red/Blue scrimmage, in terms of how a live instance might begin to answer a few question marks regarding the relatively unknown remainder of the freshman class.

    “”I think these next two games are for us to find out how our players respond when the clock is on and those three guys in the striped shirts are out there,”” Pennell said. “”It’s also going to be fun to put different combinations out there, start the rotations.

    “”Right now, I still want to the guys to keep guessing a little bit,”” Pennell said. “”I think they’re figuring it out.””

    Since the Red/Blue scrimmage, Pennell said Judkins has started to understand how to change the tempo and not force the ball.

    Determining a starting roster comes not only from recent practices, Pennell said, but players’ overall bodies of work since the fall workouts and how they play together.

    “”Certain guys just do better coming off the bench,”” Pennell said. “”Other guys need to start. I’m still learning this team, but we’re certainly getting closer.””

    Said Wise: “”Dunlap and Pennell instill into the young guys each and every day exactly what their roles are, and if they get out of line, they snap at them and make sure they get back into their roles.

    “”Because we’re going to need the young guys down the stretch of the season,”” Wise added. “”It can’t always just be all me, Fendi (Onobum), Chase and Jordan to carry the whole load. It’s good that our coaches are getting onto everyone about their roles.””

    Fogg, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard, was described as very intelligent and the most coachable player on the team, Pennell said.

    As Fogg strives to fulfill Pennell’s assignments, he may leave the head coach with no choice but to play him.

    Still, Fogg leaves the Wildcats an array of rotation options, since Pennell can also field a bigger roster with Budinger at shooting guard and Jamelle Horne at small forward.

    “”(Fogg) tries to do everything you do exactly right,”” Pennell said. “”When a guy does that, you have an obligation to give him a chance. I better be able to back (my word) up.””

    Added Budinger: “”People are really starting to get their roles. We just gotta keep on rolling and getting better. I’m hoping to see team chemistry, to see how the freshmen do playing against new people.””

    Then there’s Brandon Lavender, the lone Class of 2008 survivor who was projected to get considerable playing time based on his high school career.

    Lavender finished the Red/Blue scrimmage with two points and six assists.

    “”You can just see the camaraderie on the court, and you can see our guys starting play better together once we have the guys doing what they need to do,”” Onobun said.

    Coaches, players not taking exhibition lightly
    While exhibition games certainly allow coaches to shuffle the lineup and tweak certain aspects of the game, Pennell won’t be taking Incarnate Word lightly.

    Incarnate Word finished 17-11 last season, and was picked to finish second in the Heartland Conference poll. Four of its top six scorers returned from last season.

    “”I’ve learned over the years, you better not look at the name of the school or have a preconceived idea about your competition,”” Pennell said. “”Thursday night is about us playing someone else besides ourselves, and we need to come out totally focused.””

    And 1
    Arizona will welcome a former assistant coach, Ken Burmeister, back to Tucson tonight, now as the current Incarnate Word head coach.

    He assisted Olson during his first three seasons at Arizona, 1983-86, and won the Wildcats’ first ever Pacific 10 Conference Championship.

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