Cats/Nike: A Second Look

The Cats got off to a slow start and a had sleep-walk finish, but all signs point to the Wildcats having one heck of a team. We take a second look at the Wildcats' easy win over Team Nike.

While an observer of the score might think this game was close, that is completely incorrect. It was close for about nine minutes, then the Arizona press just completely took over. Team Nike was trailing 21-20 with 9:32 left in the first half before and everything fell apart. They couldn't get the ball across half court and many of their passes went sailing out of bounds. It was almost sad to see as Team Nike just didn't have enough players to keep up with the Arizona players. This game featured a number of exciting dunks and steals. It is a shame that it wasn't televised for bigger audience. Arizona coasted for most of the second half for a 100-83 win but was up 98-67 with 7:32 left in the game. It was not as close as the score suggests, as Arizona dominated for all but the first seven minutes and last seven minutes of the game. While Arizona did not have a dominant performer, everything came together tonight and the team put out a very entertaining product.

No one player stood out as no Wildcat played more than 29 minutes. Andre Igoudala was the high scorer with 15 points and had two highlight reel dunks on back-to-back steals. After the second dunk, Iguodala went to the bench winded; he definitely gave a maximum effort and played a great game. He chipped in eight rebounds and three steals, all in 19 minutes of play.

Rick Anderson and Hassan Adams continued their solid play with 13 points each, while Anderson chipped in five rebounds. Anderson has continued his very solid play and had seven of Arizona's first nine points, including an intended alley-oop pass that accidentally went in the hoop for a three-pointer. Adamswas electric again and had two sick dunks with his left hand. Due to their athleticism on the press, Adams and Igoudala on the court on the same time simply torture opponents . When those two checked into the lineup, their energy seemed to kick started the team in both halves.

Luke Walton returned and definitely made his presence felt as he had 12 points and seven assists. His passing and inside presence definitely brought another dimension to the team. The ankle injury that kept him out of the first exhibition game seemed to be fine, as his mobility on the press was good. He ended up with two big steals but could have had a few more. Helping out the big scorers was Jason Gardner, who had a slow night in the scoring column but was still very effective with 10 points and six assists. When he is off the court you can really tell because the pace of the game is so much more hectic. Gardner is like a security blanket with his amazing dribbling and passing ability.

Team Nike had some standout performers as well. John Harris had 16 points and 12 rebounds. He was amazingly effective against the tandem of Fox and Frye and gave tboth fits under the boards. Dave Ferguson, the team's best player out of Saint Louis University, had a game high 22 points, six assists and seven rebounds. He is a very solid player and I am surprised a CBA team could not use him. Harris and Ferguson played the entire game and were noticeably tired at the end of both halves. Daryl Cunningham and James Felton were the other top performers for Nike with 13 and 12 points respectively. Lacking depth and athletecism, Team Nike was simply overmatched and had trouble getting the ball across half court.

Despite the slow start and cruise control finish, this was a very positive game for Arizona. The defense was better and the press was amazing. The score looks close, but this game could have been a 40-50 point spread easily. The Wildcats look ready to go for the season opener against Western Kentucky as the kinks in the press seem to be going away. Team Nike was obviously very tired going into every timeout and the Hilltoppers might have a similar feeling Saturday. Salim Stoudamire once again did not play, but is returning to practice on Friday and should be ready to go on Saturday, at least in a reserve role. Stoudamire was in a warm-up jersey and uniform today and was moving pretty well. He should be ready to add another body to the press which is already just plain scary. Finally, after long last we will see this team in action in a game that actually counts.

Simon Ogus

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