Hoop Notes

The Wildcats are just a few days away from the Red/Blue scrimmage and the start of the game portion of the basketball season. The Cats have been working their tails off in practice and head coach Lute Olson gave an update of what has been going on.

RODGERS BACK

Senior guard Chris Rodgers is getting healthier by the day. He had what was described as his "most-involved practice" on Wednesday. Rodgers is nursing a sprained knee and has not been involved in any drills that could have contact.

"Yesterday was the first day that there was actually some contact work where he worked with us on the press offense and that kind of thing," Lute Olson said. "So that was good to see."

ADJUSTMENTS

The Cats continue to work heavily on their four-out/on-in sets. The scheme differs slightly from their normal three-out set, but not drastically as the past few seasons have seen the Cats go with mobile power forwards who like to shoot from the outside. The Cats have gone with players like Ricky Anderson, Hassan Adams and Ivan Radenovic getting most of the minutes at the four.

This year the Cats' PF's will spend even more time outside. In the past the fours would pop out to shoot, now they will begin most possessions on the outside.

"The intent of that is to spread the court a little bit more, open some driving lanes, and utilizing our quickness," Olson said.

The move has really benefited Radenovic.

" Ivan feels a lot more comfortable," said Olson. "You can see that. Last year at this point, he was battling to be in the starting lineup. He is so much more confident right now."

The Cats are tweaking the defense a tad, utilizing a lot more pressure defense. The Cats have the depth and the athleticism to attempt to press again this year.

"We've been spending a lot of time on pressure with full, three-quarter, and half-court kind-of things," said Olson.

THE ENIGMA

Entering this season no one really knew what to make of Isaiah Fox. Many had written him off, while others hoped he could rebound into the player he was the first few games of 2004.

So far, so good.

"He's played the best that he has since he's been here," Olson said. "Far and away, it's the best condition he ever been in."

Olson praised his hustle as well as his leadership and communication skills.

"He's probably one of the best guys we have out there in terms of talking, calling screens, and helping the other guys on the court," Olson added. "I think he makes the four other guys with him play better because of the way he plays."

An improved Fox makes the battle in the post even better. Olson seemed quite pleased with the inside competition. Both Fox and Bret Brielmaier have been seeing action at the four and five, while Kirk Walters and Mohamed Tangara have seen all their work come in the post.

One player who may have just earned himself a start in the first exhibition due to hitting the glass.

"Mohamed at this point is our leading rebounder," Olson noted.

J-MAC

Jawann McClellan is still nursing a sore Achilles tendon. It turns out is was hurt against Illinois in the Elite Eight and has still not healed properly. Since he has to sit out the first semester anyways, the trainers are taking things extra slow.


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