Frye, Verdejo highlight Red/Blue

The good news is that Channing Frye scored 37 points and Mustafa Shakur was just one rebound away from a triple-double. The bad news is that it came against other Wildcats in the annual Red/Blue scrimmage. While not a whole lot can be taken from an intersquad scrimmage, it is clear that the returners are very talented and true freshman Jesus Verdejo may be a pleasant surprise.

The event was essentially two mini scrimmages. The first half saw the team broken up into two fairly even teams, while the second half pitted the top-seven against the rest of the team.

The big story was Frye. The senior center was almost unstoppable in the paint, scoring 37 points on 13-18 shooting. His hook shot was unstoppable and he got to the line an astounding 13 times, making 11 from the charity stripe.


"My teammates did a great job getting me the ball," Frye said. "I have to do a better job getting rebounds."

Frye may not have been pleased with his totals on the glass, but he did pull down eight boards.

Shakur proved that the Wildcat offense has to be in his hands. His team scored 105 points, shooting an even 50% from the field.

The sophomore scored 13 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed nine rebounds. He also racked up five steaks, given the younger guards fits.

"Steals don't just happen, they occur because you are active," Lute Olson said.

Shakur and Frye began the game on the "Red" team and they jumped out to an early lead thanks to 16-2 run. Frye got things started with a jump hook and Shakur then added a pair of free throws. Ivan Radenovic and Chris Rodgers added two baskets, while Jawann McClellan added three points. Radenovic's second jumper put the Red up 21-6 and it looked like the rout was on.

The Blue looked out of sorts, but coach Rodney Tention got them settled down and soon they were rattling off a run of their own. Thanks to aggressive defense and good rebounding, the Blue squad outscored the Red 20-5 and a Salim Stoudamire three pointer tied the game at 26.

The Blue finally gained their first lead since going up 2-0 when Daniel Dillon and Verdejo hit back-to-back buckets. Verdejo's runner gave the Blue a 36-34 lead with just 4:58 to play.

Verdejo proved he could get his shot off. For the night he scored 27 points on 11-18 shooting. He committed six turnovers, indicative of a freshman who handles to the ball too much. Verdejo found himself playing mostly at the point, not his natural position.

The Blue led by as many as four, but the Red scored seven in a row to take a 48-45 lead in the final moments. McClellan had a transition lay-up and made 3-of-4 free throws during the scoring burst.

The Blue had the last laugh Stoudamire knocked down a pair for free throws and then assisted a wide-open Verdejo on a lay-in with just two seconds left that gave the Red a 49-48 lead at the break.

"Our plan was to get down 14 and then come back for the one-point win," joked Tention.

After the half the coaches mixed up the teams, placing the current top-seven players on the Red team. The younger Blue team hung around early, thanks in large part to Verdejo, but 15-4 run broke the game open and a Radenovic bucket gave the veteran Red team a 34-23 lead.

The Blue got it within seven on several occasions, but couldn't get any closer. The veterans outscored their younger counterparts 15-6 to finish out the scrimmage.

"We obviously have a lot of work to do," admitted Olson.

The Cats play their first exhibition when Team Georgia comes to McKale next Sunday.

NOTES:

*Freshman Mohamed Tangara did not play. He is nursing a muscle strain and could be back next week, but the training staff is taking his recovery slow.

*Guard Matt Babcock was ruled ineligible by the NCAA, but was allowed to sit on the bench during the scrimmage.

*Rodney Tention coached the Blue team in the first half with Jack Murphy at his side. For the second half fellow assistant Josh Pastner helped him out. Associate head coach Jim Rosborough coached the Red team.

*The Red team actually wore the home white uniforms.

All Photos by Carl F. Shifflette III


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