'Mid-day Madness': Salim sets it off

There was no Midnight Madness this year, but the Wildcats put on a show for their faithful fans anyways. A little less than 12 hours early the Wildcats put on an exhibition that actually had more excitement than most Midnight Madnesses have ever had. Andre Iguodala showed why he is a player to be feared and Hassan Adams put on a dunking exhibition, but it was Salim Stoudamire who stole the show.

Several hundred Wildcat fans showed up to get a glimpse of top rated recruits Jawann McClellan and Shaun Livingston, but it was the returning Wildcats who had the best games.

Salim Stoudamire proved to be a most inhospitable host to the nation's top point guard recruit. Livingston got fancy on his passing early on and Stoudamire decided to show him exactly what he has. Despite a solid defensive effort on Livingston's part, Stoudamire took over the game and seemingly scored at will. For Stoudamire, who gives up almost six inches to the high schooler, it was the perfect highlight reel to send to NBA scouts who wonder how he will fare against bigger defenders.

The Wildcat junior used his speed and strength to teach Livingston a lesson. Stoudamire was unconscious from behind the arc and just as deadly inside. His range is easily over 25 feet and his ability to stop and pop kept Livingston off balanced much of the contest.

Stoudamire didn't just get it done outside. His running floater is a tremendous weapon in his arsenal. Stoudamire has added a new wrinkle to the runner by cradling the basketball as he penetrates the lane, much like a running back would cradle a football, and only exposing the ball when he is ready to shoot. It is the shot that is most striking. He puts it up so high that post players cannot get their hands on it for the block. Like his three-point shot, Stoudamire puts such as soft touch on the shot that when he does not get all net, he gets the nice shooter's roll.

No official stats were kept, but Stoudamire had to be near the 50-point mark for the entire pick-up session.

As good as Stoudamire was, Hassan Adams was nearly as impressive with his vast array of dunks. Adams is a freak athlete who may rival Richard Jefferson and Bennett Davison for jaw dropping dunking displays. Adams repeatedly put home dunks that would blow away many you'd see in a Midnight Madness dunk contest. Adams mixes both power and explosiveness in his dunks and it is no exaggeration when we say that on a few of them it appeared that his chest was brushing the rim.

Adams' dunks were impressive, but so is his all around improvement. His outside shooting is much better than it was a year ago and it is apparent that he has been working on his mid range game as well. He's still best around the rim and his strength only adds to his danger as a dunker and offensive rebounder.

The most impressive player overall may be Andre Iguodala. With apologies to Chris Rodgers, Iguodala appears to be the Cats' most improved player. He's refined his game to go along with his uncanny athleticism. Iguodala's outside shooting has come a long way, and if his form holds true, he'll rival only Stoudamire for the team's best outside shooter.

Not to be outdone by Livingston, Iguodala had a number of fancy passes himself. Livingston started the pick-up session by dishing out several flashy passes. Iguodala showed the youngster that he was not the only 6-6 player who can pass behind his back. Iguodala, who has gone behind-the-back throughout the pick-up sessions, did so on several occasions and made the play every time.

The big men did not shine as much as the wings, but they did show their individual improvements. Channing Frye has added a little more bulk and his extra muscle is apparent when he takes off his shirt. Isaiah Fox has slimmed down and looks a little quicker. The biggest surprise is the play of Kirk Walters. While he isn't yet at the level of the older post players, Walters has already made great strides since the start of school six weeks ago. He has gained confidence and looks to be a bit stronger and more aggressive.

Another surprise is the play of walk-on Beau Muhlbach. The Texan has been very impressive for a player who was not recruited by the Wildcats. He has an excellent stroke and is great in transition. He's very athletic, attacks the glass and does not make a lot of mistakes. Don't be surprised if he finds the floor sooner rather than later.

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