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9/06/2006 12:39:00 PM
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM ... Arizona's British Columbian Expedition
Daniel Dillon is fighting for playing time in a crowded Arizona backcourt.
The Wildcats went 5-0 against a slate of Canadian teams, with the final game at 9 a.m. PT on Monday.
1. We didn’t learn jack about three of the Wildcats' most intriguing players. Jawann McClellan was hurt. True freshman sensation Chase Budinger was sick. And Serbian Ivan Radenovic, unfortunately, couldn't come along on the Canadian tour due to problems with his visa. Those absences, and the fact that the team played five games in five days -- I guess -- provided a decent excuse why 'Zona trailed the University of British Columbia late in the second half of their final contest, before rallying for an 87-76 win. Or you could take that as an alarming sign for a team that was on the NCAA tournament bubble in March. It'll chalk it up more to exhaustion.
2. Guard depth will not be a problem on Lute Olson's bench. Point-man Mustafa Shakur, who wisely pulled out of the NBA Draft in June, and McClellan are Nos. 1 and 2 in the lineup, no question. But the Canadian stretch was highlighted by the play of junior backup Daniel Dillon, the Aussie who averaged 12.5 points on 56.4 percent shooting and was called "the best guard on the trip in terms of consistency" by Olson. Freshman Nic Wise, who was the 'Cats' top 3-point shooter in their preseason practices, got off to an inauspicious start by showing up late for the team bus prior to game two and getting benched. On the last day of the trip, however, Wise was the Cats' shooting star, helping them avoid an upset at the hands of UBC by scoring 21 points (including four 3s) in 24 minutes. Perhaps it was the forced rest that kept him fresh.
Arizona played 5 games in 45 hours not 5 days. In addition, two starters, Jawann McClellan and Ivan Radenovic, didn't make the trip. Fendi Onobun was hampered by injury and Chase Budinger was ill, neither played more than parts of two games. Other than the poor free throw shooting, the tour showed the player are loaded with talent, stamina and determination. Lute Olson has lots of reasons to smile and Wildcat fans have a great season in front of them.