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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA’s exhibition season begins

Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats men’s basketball team went head to head in its 2011 red & blue scrimmage match from McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday, October 22, 2011. The red squad defeated the blue squad 67 to 54. Solomon Hill 44, Kyryl Natyazhko 14

After two weeks of practicing against his own team, Arizona forward Solomon Hill openly admitted to eavesdropping on the other side’s play calls during scrimmages.

That’s why he’s looking forward to tonight’s 6:30 exhibition against Seattle Pacific at McKale Center — to get a feel for how he does when he, and the other team, doesn’t know what’s coming.

“It’s kind of hard for me to not cheat when they call the play out because I don’t want to be the guy that gets beat on defense,” Hill said. “Playing against some guys that don’t know our plays, guys we can scout, we can really hone in on what we’re supposed to do.”

Hill and seniors Jesse Perry and Kyle Fogg have firm grips on three of the five starting positions, but battles for the point guard and center positions are just heating up. Both competitions involve one of Arizona’s highly touted freshmen — Josiah Turner at point guard and Sidiki Johnson at center.

Head coach Sean Miller said that he’s looking forward to seeing how his freshmen handle their first game action in college, but knows there will be a learning period for the foursome of newcomers.

“Those guys are all trying to improve and they’re all trying to carve out a role in our team,” Miller said. “We all know this is a first time for everything for freshmen.”

Last Saturday’s Red-Blue Game gave the team a chance to get on the court in front of a sold-out McKale Center, giving the newcomers a chance to get used to the environment they’ll be playing in.

Now they’ll be able to focus strictly on what’s happening on the court instead of potentially getting distracted by what’s going on around them.

“The team was able to play in front of a packed house, and there’s always value in that,” Miller said. “The more we can get out there and play in front of a crowd, play with officials — that’s going to give them the best chance to be successful early.”

Arizona’s freshmen won’t be the only ones making an adjustment. Fogg has been forced to take more of a vocal leadership role as the Wildcats’ most experienced player, something that Miller said is going to take some getting used to.

“Last year, although he was a very important piece to our team, I wouldn’t say he was one of our two leaders,” Miller said. “This year he is. He’s been around the block, but he’s never been what I would call a vocal leader. Getting used to that role is what he’ll be doing.”

But regardless of who makes individual improvements or not, sophomore guard Mayes said that Arizona’s exhibition contests are about getting experience when it comes to the type of preparation that’s required for each game.

“It starts in practice,” Mayes said. “Film and game planning, then taking what you get from practice and accomplishing it in a game.”

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