Arizona Schools Opt For Mid-Day Madness Over the WeekendPosted by AMurawa on October 24th, 2011
After skipping out on the hysteria that is Midnight Madness, both Arizona and Arizona State gave their fans a treat last weekend with events centered around open scrimmages on their home court. For the ambitious desert hoops fan, they were even scheduled appropriately enough to allow the truly committed to make it to both events.
For the last three years under head coach Sean Miller, Arizona has opted for using the Red-Blue Game, an intrasquad scrimmage played at the McKale Center, as a chance to present his team to the fans. Calling Midnight Madness little more than “playing a glorified pickup game,” Miller has instead turned the annual game into an event, complete with player introductions, a dunk contest, and the honoring of former players. For instance,in front of a capacity crowd that included former Wildcat greats such as Andre Iguodala, Richard Jefferson, Jason Terry, Jerryd Bayless, Lute Olson and others, as well as a handful of recruits, Arizona this year inducted Derrick Williams and Chase Budinger to its prestigious Ring of Honor.
As for the game itself, it was a good chance for UA fans to get a first glimpse at their highly-touted freshman class of Josiah Turner, Nick Johnson, Angelo Chol and Sidiki Johnson, who went for a combined 49 points in the scrimmage. The two Johnsons (no relation) were arguably the most impressive players on the day by all accounts, with Nick hitting three three-pointers, playing tough defense, throwing down a put-back dunk (on top of winning the pre-game dunk contest) and even running a bit of point. Sidiki, meanwhile, hit all seven of his shots from the field, including a couple of threes (a skill he was not known for in high school) and looks to be slightly ahead of Chol in the chase for minutes. Senior forward Jesse Perry led all scorers on the day with 20 points, including three threes, an addition to his game since last year. He will seemingly be the main offensive threat in the frontcourt for the Wildcats. Junior wing Kevin Parrom, who is recovering from being shot in New York about a month ago, dressed for the game but did not play. Nevertheless, there was good news on the Parrom front in the postgame press conference, as Miller mentioned that the team is unlikely to redshirt him this season, although he is expected to miss some of the Wildcats’ early games while his rehabilitation continues.
Up north a piece in Tempe, the Sun Devils were busy unveiling their new squad and style. The big talk around ASU practice early is that head coach Herb Sendek wants his team to play at a more uptempo pace this season. Now, given the snail’s pace at which they played in 2010-11 (they were 296th in the nation in adjusted tempo), just how much that tempo increases remains to be seen, but Saturday’s Gold and Maroon game was a good first indication. Playing without freshman point guard Jahii Carson, who is still waiting to get final word on his eligibility, junior transfer Chris Colvin did the most damage at point, pushing the ball upcourt in transition, and running a livelier offense in the halfcourt. Colvin will be a key player for Sendek, regardless of when and if Carson becomes eligible, and he should handle the point in the interim without skipping a beat. Sophomore forward Kyle Cain was the other standout in the scrimmage, showing an improved offensive ability around the paint. While he proved he could rebound last year, having him provide a bit of a scoring punch in the frontcourt will make the Sun Devils a more versatile offensive team. However, it wasn’t all good things for ASU, as they were still sloppy with the ball on offense and passive defensively, a couple of areas that were consistent problems last year. Given that those are usually strengths of Sendek-coached teams, those areas will need to be shored up for Arizona State to make significant progress over last season’s 4-14 conference finish.