Radenovic impressive in debut

Ivan Radenovic made his Arizona debut and actually exceeded expectations. Most knew the newest Wildcat would get a lot of playing time, but few thought he would have played as well as he did. Radenovic led the Wildcats in scoring and was second on the squad in rebounds.

Since he joined the team Lute Olson had been telling anyone who would listen that Radenovic was a very good player. Olson praised his shooting and his understanding of the game. The big Serbian proved his new coach right by having one of the most stunning debuts of any Wildcat.

Radenovic scored 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds. He made an almost instant impact when he banked home a short jumper on the first possession after he entered the game to a rousing ovation from the 14,557 fans in attendance.

He has a soft touch on his jumper and although he went 5-of-10 from the field, Olson promised the shooting would improve.

"He is going to shoot the ball better than he did tonight," Olson said. "He can flat out shoot the ball."

Most of Radenovic's shots were face-up jumpers. Offensively he seems to prefer a more perimeter oriented game. Comparisons to Rick Anderson were right on. Anderson liked playing on the perimeter better, but was no slouch in the post. Like Anderson, Radenovic can play with his back to the basket and is an effective rebounder.

For a big man, Radenovic runs the floor well. At this time his wind is not where it needs to be and he had trouble with multiple trips up and down the floor, where he lagged a bit behind. His conditioning was good, but he isn't in game shape. Radenovic has not played competitively in awhile and there is only so much running will do to get you ready for basketball.

"Six months is the last time I played competitive basketball," Radenovic said. "I wasn't ready yet. In a few days I will be ready. I need to run better. The guys play very fast."

The biggest problem may be his lack of hops. He had a dunk early in the game and barely got off the floor. He doesn't look like he will be much of a shot blocker, but with Hassan Adams and Channing Frye on board that shouldn't be much of a problem.

Radenovic benefited from staying in Tucson over Christmas and he got to work out with Josh Pastner. Pastner put him through some drills to improve his grasp of the high-low post.

"It helped me a lot," Radenovic said. "There was lots of extra running and shooting."

Radenovic was a perfect 6-for-6 from the stripe. He was aggressive on the inside and drew a lot of contact. His stroke is nice and he got the roll on one shot.

He was also able to put the ball on the floor. He isn't the slasher that the Wildcat wings are, but he is able to get into the lane and get his shot off. It will be interesting to see how he does against quicker opponents.

After this start the pressure will be on. Wildcat fans that were not expecting a lot may now be expecting a whole lot. Radenovic had one of the most impressive freshmen debuts since Gilbert Arenas and Jason Gardner took the floor in the 1999 preseason N.I.T.

There is a lot of this season left and it may be too early to get too excited, but you can see the potential in having Radenovic on the team. He seems like the perfect solution to the void left by Isaiah Fox's injury and the other post player losses. He still has a lot to learn, but you have to like the first outing.

The true test comes next week against ASU.

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