Arizona basketball: Red 67, Blue 54: Getting in the groove

New team shows off moves before ex-Cats, recruits, packed house
2011-10-23T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T10:19:14Z Arizona basketball: Red 67, Blue 54: Getting in the grooveBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 23, 2011 12:00 am  • 

The action on the court wasn't much more than the Red-Blue Game delivers every year, a bunch of guys hastily trying to prove themselves over again to Arizona Wildcats coaches and fans after just a week of practice.

Among other issues in the Red's 67-54 win over the Blue at McKale Center before 14,601 Saturday: The point guards shot a collective 2 for 9 from the field, hardly anyone played much defense, and forward Kevin Parrom (gunshot wound) and center Alex Jacobson (back issues) didn't play at all.

"We have a lot to work on," coach Sean Miller said.

But that wasn't the point, really. What was? That everything else about the Red-Blue Game delivered a virtually unprecedented experience for fans, current players, past players and crucial recruiting targets alike.

Arizona introduced nine current or former NBA players, and honored three of them: Chase Budinger and Derrick Williams for entering the McKale Ring of Honor, and Jason Terry for winning an NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks.

Of course, former UA coach Lute Olson was on hand, too, giving Budinger a hug just before Miller warmly greeted Williams.

"It's fun to be back," Budinger said. "You step on that court and it brings back a lot of memories."

Williams even had a chance to watch the guy who may take over his old role as the team's chief acrobat, Nick Johnson. The freshman guard from Gilbert won a pregame dunk contest and then scored 17 points in the 24-minute game.

"Everyone likes to see dunks," Williams said. "They want to see little guys like that doing well on the rim."

Johnson, however, has potential for more than just dunking. Miller is hoping he can convert Johnson's impressive athleticism into strong defense, too.

"Nick can do a lot of things," Miller said. "You can see by the dunk contest that very few kids have his athletic talent and he's also a very hard worker. Getting him to understand our defense and really help us on defense is something I think he can do and we'll work hard these next couple of weeks to prepare him to do that."

Some of Saturday's results were deceiving. Arizona played little defense in part because it had no scholarship substitutes available, missing Parrom and Jacobson, which allowed freshman big man Sidiki Johnson to step outside and hit a pair of three-pointers that Miller said are not characteristic of him.

Forward Jesse Perry also hit 3 of 4 three-pointers en route to his game-high 20 points, after he made only seven from long range all of last season. But that kind of thing could happen more often this time around.

"Jesse will make that same jump that a lot of guys do from his first year to his second," Miller said of the former junior college player. "A wide-open shot for Jesse is a good shot for him. He's worked hard all offseason and it's important that he can do that for our team."

Arizona's collective 14-for-30 three-point shooting was only a small part of a show in which, really, everyone entertained everyone: The NBA players watched their successors, the current players had a chance to hang out with the NBA players, the fans were able to watch both … and a critical band of recruits that included several committed UA players and 2012 target Kaleb Tarczewki were shown McKale Center at its best.

The fall signing period for recruits, not coincidentally, begins Nov. 9.

"The atmosphere is everything you could have ever hoped for," Miller said, when asked about the recruiting implications. "You have so many former players coming back. That's when you know a program is special, when they continue to come back, because those guys know what it means for the future to be back and they know what it means to the current guys.

"That and the fact we had 14,000 people were just incredible. I'd like to thank all our fans for being here. They did their job and hopefully over these next couple of weeks we can feel the impact."

On StarNet: See more photos from the Red-Blue Game at azstarnet.com/gallery

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Football schedule

Teams Date Time Links
Colorado at
Colorado State
8/29 6:00 pm
UNLV at
Arizona
8/29 7:30 pm
UCLA at
Virginia
8/30 9:00 am
Cal at
Northwestern
8/30 12:30 pm
UC-Davis at
Stanford
8/30 1:00 pm
Portland State at
Oregon State
8/30 1:00 pm
Fresno State at
USC
8/30 4:30 pm
South Dakota at
Oregon
8/30 7:30 pm
Washington at
Hawaii
8/30 7:30 pm
Arizona at
Texas-San Antonio
9/4 5:00 pm