Freshmen impress at Red and Blue Game

Dusan Ristic and Stanley Johnson were impressive in Saturday's Red and Blue game. Read on to see what Sean Miller thought about their performance, future, and more.

The Red and Blue game was an opportunity for fans and media to get their first look at this year’s squad but, maybe more importantly, get their first glimpse of the current freshmen.

As impressive as the class is, the biggest surprise of the entire game may have been the play of Dusan Ristic, as he finished with 14 points and only missed one shot.

“Dusan is ahead of the game on offense,” Sean Miller said. “He has a great touch, has tremendous hands, has a know how of how to score. Free-throw shooting, jump shots, hooks, he is ahead of where you see normal freshman front court players.

“Defensively is where he is playing catch up and he’s already much better today than he was this fall. The speed of the game, all of the different things that happen, that is the challenge and we are working hard to make sure he meets that challenge. He’s among our hardest workers and he has a bright future. We’re very excited about him.”

Miller also cautioned that Ristic probably played his best basketball since arriving on campus.

“Dusan played better today in the Red and Blue than he has in practice,” he said. “That doesn’t mean he hasn’t had his moments. All of us recognize offensively his size, he has a great skill size and understating how to play.

“Where he is playing behind the eight ball and where we have to bring up up to speed is on defense.”

Stanley Johnson is another player that gave a preview of what he can do and he certainly did not disappoint.

“Stanley has that body that when you look at, it does a lot of things for him, but he runs and jumps a lot better than you think,” Miller said. “There aren’t many of him out there. He is 240 pounds, 18 years old, seven percent body fat.

“He’s blessed with tremendous physical gifts. What we are trying to teach him is all of the intricacies of college defense, how to play with other good players, and utilize our offense to create good opportunities.

“If you watch us ten days from now or three weeks from now I would hope you would see him using our offense, being more efficient, being a better defender, and he will do that every day.”

With numerous players showing impressive skill on Saturday, it would be understandable if Miller’s job of shortening the rotation was more difficult than originally anticipated. Instead, he says that is not the case.

“I don’t think it’s going to be difficult,” Miller said. “I don’t know if we have predetermined the depth that we have. I go back to other Red Blue games, some players who led us in scoring in previous Red and Blue games or had great nights, once the dust settled they weren’t really in the plans or didn't have as big of a role as maybe it would have looked.

“We have a number of guys competing for roles and opportunity. Same thing with the starting lineup. I have said this before, to breed team chemistry and reward those who deserve it, we may rotate our starting lineup.”

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