A second look at EA Sports

Arizona did not disappoint its fans by playing a very fast-paced basketball game but struggled at times as EA Sports gave the Wildcats a little run for their money. Arizona ended up winning 117-95 as the offense was off the charts, but the defense left something to be desired.

In the 1st half the defense was decent, but in the second half it just fell apart. EA Sports cut the lead to 15 points at one time with unconscious three-point shooting and cuts through the lane for easy baskets. Arizona also struggled with their defensive rebounding, which led to second chance opportunities and easy put backs. All in all there were many bright spots in Arizona's opening matchup, but there are still some glaring holes that need to be addressed.

Of course, not having Luke Walton and Salim Stoudamire in the line-up makes a big difference. Much of the offense is run through Walton and Stoudamire is obviously the team's best shooter as well as a harassing defender. I can't imagine Brett McFall scoring like he did with Stoudamire on him. McFall was the star of the night for the EA Sports squad, scoring 29 points on 9-13 three-point shooting. His range was limitless tonight as he hit 30-footers from right around the Arizona logo past the three-point line.

There was not much they could do about a hot shooter with further than normal range, but there were things that definitely should not have happened. EA Sports seemed to cut through the lane at will for easy lay-ups and when they broke the press, usually got open jumpers and lay-ups.

Other than McFall, there were no standout performers for EA Sports just some steady ones such as former Kansas player Nick Bradford and Washington State forward Chris Crosby. Neither were dominating players in college, but both were very respectable during their careers. Overall there were some problems, but nothing one should worry about too much with Luke and Salim sitting out. The team was obviously rusty, which is expected, but should perform better against Team Nike and definitely against Western Kentucky.

There were also many positives for Arizona in the game.

Freshmen standouts Hassan Adams and Andre Iguodala both started and neither disapointed. Adams finished with a team high 27 points and had some nasty dunks at the end of the game. His ball handling is so refined for a freshman and on top of it all he has a solid jump shot and freakish hops. This guy has a chance to definitely be Pac-10 freshmen of the year if not the Nation Player of the Year.

Igoudala finished with 14 points and six rebounds, but was particularly harassing on the press. He is very quick for a guy his height, which makes things so difficult for the opposition. Igoudala showed some freshmen nerves today as he was continually stripped in the key, but having a game under his belt should really help him. His ball handling is also above average for a freshman and seems to be right with Hassan Adams talent wise.

Jason Gardner continued to do a fantastic job running the show, his three-point shot seems to have improved from last season and his quickness is as good as ever. Jason brought the crowd to its feet blocking the 6'7" Nick Bradford. Unfortunately a called a foul, but after wiewing the replays it was obvious that the block was clean.

Rick Anderson continued his torrid play of late and tallied another double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. While Rick still has trouble with more athletic power forwards, he is much more aggressive this year and it is showing. He has been a force on the offensive boards so far and is really tallying up the rebounds. There is no doubt now that he is the starting four-man on this squad.

There were no real other dominant performers for Arizona as Isaiah Fox was quiet offensively most of the way and Dennis Latimore still looks raw. He committed three fouls and looked a little slow on the press. He is still a load down low with his strength but he is still having trouble channeling that raw strength into results.

Chris Rodgers showed off some nice dribbling but was often out of control and made some bad decisions. He showed lots of promise and has really improved since the first scrimmage six to eight weeks ago. Rodgers also played some shooting guard along side Gardner as it doesn't seem like he will get much time at the point.

Will Bynum showed off his amazing athleticism with a jaw dropping block even more amazing than Gardner's. He blocked a lay-up attempt by Crosby and replays showed his hand at about the top of the square on the backboard. All for a guy who stands at about 5'9", Bynum has the most hops I have seen in a long time. His point guard role is still a work in progress but his leaping ability is amazing. His control was better today than the Red-Blue scrimmage, but still needs to learn from the master (Gardner) and try to control the game better.

Overall this game was great for a fan and should be a sign of things to come. The tempo is something I have never seen before and has signs of Kentucky 1996 and Arkansas 1994, both title winners by the way. Of course there is work to be done, but who doesn't have many things to do at this point in the year. Arizona showed what kind of results the press can have early when they stormed ahead 30-13 in the first half. They also showed what kind of negative effects it can have with EA Sports getting easy baskets and lay-ups. Having Walton and Stoudamire back will be big for the players stamina on the press, defense and rebounding. These were the three aspects of the game that Arizona did not excel in. This version of Arizona basketball was scary tonight, but with Stoudamire and Walton meshed in, this team should be just plain sick.

You can email Simon Ogus at sogus@email.arizon.edu

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