Scrimmage sheds light on this squad

The Arizona basketball team continues to prepare for the season. Less than a week before the Red/Blue game, the team conducted an open scrimmage for the fans. The game gave us nice insight into the development of this very young/very thin team.

The first thing you notice is the lack of depth. With Isaiah Fox sitting out with an eye injury, there were only two available post players, which meant that each team had to go with three guards, a small forward and a post player. Although the team has plenty of weapons come game time, it is becoming apparent that creating competitive balance in practices could be tough.

The Blue squad, featuring Andre Iguodala, Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye, got the better of a team featuring Chris Rodgers, Hassan Adams and Mustafa Shakur. The Blue got out to an early first half lead, then withheld a few furious White runs to take the scrimmage 107-95.

In the second half, a 13-5 run got the White within four, 78-74, but the Blue rattled off nine straight to pulled away.

This is the third open scrimmage and we are now starting to get a good feel for this edition of the Wildcats. We'll break down each player, how he did today and how he fits this team.

Salim Stoudamire: Salim can flat out score. His outside shot seems even more improved and he attacks the rim very well. This past week he has gotten more minutes at point guard and he seems comfortable there as long as he can be a score-first point guard. Stoudamire scored 25 points in today's scrimmage and appears to be as quick as anyone on the floor. In transition, it seems like he can get to the rack at will and his pull-up three-pointer may be as good as the school has ever seen.

The coaches have praised Stoudamire, and they say that he has really worked hard on his leadership skills. He was the first player to show up today and was giving out plenty of encouragement to his teammates, not exactly his normal behavior.

"Salim was fabulous today," Associate head coach Jim Rosborough confessed. "I thought he was really good."

Channing Frye: Frye was the big scorer in the scrimmage. The junior big man took advantage of Fox's absence and put up 37 points. Frye scored every way he can. He finished breaks, scored from the blocks and knocked down the jumper. Without another post player to help him out, Kirk Walters had to guard Frye one-on-one and Walters had some troubles. There was no help defense, plus Frye got many opportunities from running the floor.

If Frye can be as aggressive in the regular season as he has been so far in the preseason, he could be on his way to a dream season. The past two years Frye has started slow and not gotten on track until January. If he can start hot, he could contend for All-American honors. He's added strength and his moves down low look great. Few post players can match his quickness, and he can be very effective in the fast break.

Andre Iguodala: Iguodala was not as dominant on Saturday as he had been throughout the preseason. He played somewhat passively until the late in the game when he scored 12 points in the final eight minutes. It did not help that at times he had to play out of position, helping the team inside. When Iguodala is aggressive he looks like he can be one of the most dominant players in the Pac-10.

One interesting note is that Iguodala has not lost a scrimmage yet. Whatever team he is on wins, whether it is a full 40:00 game or just a 20:00 half. He seems to have the killer instinct and all indications are that he wants to be the go-to guy.

Hassan Adams: The team did half court drills before the start of the scrimmage and Adams dominated. He was 4-4 and hit from all over the court. That hot streak carried over to the start of the scrimmage where he scored six early points and led his team to an early 6-2 lead. His first bucket was an acrobatic up and under, reverse lay-in that got the crowd out of their seats. Adams had to play a lot of forward, even some power forward and Olson likes what he brings into the paint. Adams is a good rebounder and he's very strong. The staff feels he can create some mismatches if he has to play the four.

Mustafa Shakur: Shakur has a lot to learn, but looks to have the inside track to be the starting point guard. Make no mistake, his jump shot is ugly, but it can be effective. Today he was on. He hit a trio of threes, although one was a bankshot. He tends to be a streaky shooter, but does a great job getting to the rim. Shakur is not yet adept in the half-court offense, but he's fantastic in the open floor and makes guys happy by distributing the ball to teammates.

Kirk Walters: Walters struggled early on Saturday. He had trouble with some passes, although several of them were bad decisions or fancy passes that he was not expecting. Walters still lacks strength and seasoning, but he has a nice touch and is fairly athletic. He had the nice jump hook working and was aggressive on the boards. He does need to improve his stamina. Without a sub, Walters was gassed late in the scrimmage. He has a lot of potential, but needs a lot of work. The coaches were on him and they need to rush to get him ready for the season. Normally the Cats would like to bring him along slowly, but this season they don't have that luxury.

Chris Rodgers: Rodgers had been seeing a lot of time at point guard, but has fared better at two-guard so far in the preseason. The Wildcats feel he is more comfortable at the two, but will likely use him at both spots. In the scrimmage he was passive for much of the first half, but turned up the intensity and had 14 second-half points. Rodgers's outside shot looks better and he is making smart decisions when he drives the lane.

Beau Muhlbach: After the public scrimmage Muhlbach was the talk of the town, but he soon realized that he wouldn't be dropping 38 every week. According to the coaches, Muhlbach had shooting woes this week, but they seemed fixed during Saturday's scrimmage. Muhlbach knocked down the open three all day and has a knack for finding the loose ball. He finished with 18, splitting time with both sides. He will likely see quality spot minutes, but won't be a major contributor barring an injury.

Matt Brase: Brase continues to play hard and smart. Normally he wouldn't be in the picture as anything more than practice player, but with limited numbers, Brase could be an emergency big man in the case of foul trouble. In reality, Brase is a combo forward who is too small for the post and too slow for the wing, but he is smart and mature.

Isaiah Fox: Fox sat out due to an eye injury, but will be fine and has been cleared to play on Monday. After catching an elbow on Thursday, Fox had headaches for several days. The team held him out, but an MRI did not reveal any major damage. Fox has been playing very well and he will be a major contributor. He needs to be a physical presence down low and his offensive game seems to have expanded.

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