EDITOR NOTE: AllSportsTucson.com will run a feature this basketball season highlighting what happened 20 years ago on that particular day commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Arizona Wildcats’ national championship. The next in the series is what occurred and what was written concerning the developments of Nov. 1, 1996, when Arizona played its Red-Blue Game. The information gathered is through articles written by beat reporters Steve Rivera (Tucson Citizen) and Javier Morales (Arizona Daily Star), who now are working together for AllSportsTucson.com
You can access previous stories in this series by clicking on this link.
DATELINE: Nov. 1, 1996, McKale Center …
Mike Bibby wasn’t sure which play he liked most. Was it one of his four three-pointers? Could it have been the touch pass, er, tip on a breakaway that produced a Michael Dickerson dunk? Or was it that 23-foot jumper to end the first half? Maybe it was that no-look pass that didn’t amount to much – but it was pretty – because Donnell Harris couldn’t hold onto it.
If anything, every one of them brought raves from the 6,543 in attendance at McKale Center tonight. In what amounted to his official coming out part in the Red-Blue game, Bibby had a mixed bag of goodies. And yes, they were good and plenty.
”I think it was pretty nice. Don’t you think?” UA assistant coach Jessie Evans said, knowing all too well the answer.
Indeed. Arizona’s freshman phenom had 25 points and 12 assists to lead the Red past the Blue, 103-93. And Bibby, Arizona’s most-talked-about freshman player since Sean Elliott, had 23 points in the opening half.
”Was that unbelievable or what?” said Evans, who coached the Red team. ”I was talking to someone and they came up with the idea of (Bibby) having a seventh sense. Most good ones have a sixth sense, but he has a seventh. He just knows where everyone is and he loves passing the ball.”
He did more of the passing in the second half, when his shot wasn’t falling. He went 1 for 4 and had six assists in the second half.
”I was just trying to get everyone involved,” Bibby said. ”I wasn’t thinking about how many shots I was going to get off.”
Tonight, he scored in the first half and dished in the second.
”Mike is going to have a number of outstanding games,” UA coach Lute Olson said. ”He had to do more scoring in the first half, at least more than I think Mike would want to do and that we would want him to do.
”He got his first shot in the second half with about five minutes to go, and yet his team played extremely well. That’s the job of a point guard, to make sure his team plays well. But (what occurred) is typical of Mike.”
— Steve Rivera
* * * * *
Only a couple of hours after Dick Vitale anointed him one of his “Diaper Dandies”, Bibby showed the McKale Center crowd he’s out of the infant ward and ready for the big time.
Bibby bypassed the crawling stage and went immediately into a sprint during his first public appearance in a Wildcat uniform at the Red-Blue Scrimmage tonight.
“It was a good feeling,” the soft-spoken Bibby said. “I’m not worried about scoring that much. Winning is all that matters.”
His play had a little more feel to it.
Playing at the point against sophomore Jason Terry for most of the game, Bibby scored 23 of his 25 points in the first half to lead the Red to its victory over the Blue.
“Mike Bibby is a competitor, and he’s going to play well no matter who he goes against,” Olson said. “There will still be a few times he will play like a freshman, but he has so much confidence in his ability.
“It’s not cockiness. You never see him hot-dogging it. He gets the job done.”
Bibby also tallied 12 assists and had six rebounds. Harris, the other standout for the Red, scored 25 points and had 24 rebounds. Perceived as soft and slow-developing in the post, Harris cleared 16 rebounds on the defensive end — a concern for the Arizona coaching staff entering the game.
— Javier Morales
* * * * *
— Arizona appears to have quality depth. Olson might be able to go eight or nine deep. And it appears Arizona could easily go four deep inside with A.J. Bramlett, Harris, Eugene Edgerson and Bennett Davison playing either power forward or center. ”I think we could go eight or nine and I wouldn’t be afraid to go as far as 10,” Olson said. ”You can see the development of the newer guys.”
— Recruits Stephen Jackson, who committed to Arizona last season but failed to qualify academically, and Ronnell Blizzard, a 6-9 inside player from Cheshire (Conn.) Academy, attended the scrimmage.
— Steve Rivera
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