Arizona’s Red-Blue Game is the perfect mix for a coach looking for answers, all the while trying to serve the masses and get a recruit … or two.
There’s fun mixed in with eventual fine-tuning. But hey it’s still early so fun can be had.
Still, Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd will use Friday night’s game to “figure out where we’re at (then) start to break things down and build them back up.”
So, let the evaluations and competition begin! Or, was that continue?
Seems more like the latter, given how the players got after one another in the 24-minute scrimmage, after a 3-point shooting show and a high-flying dunk contest.
“We didn’t come here just to play, but we came to play our asses off,” said Oumar Ballo, who helped lead the Blue team to a 60-48 win.
Ballo said Friday night “was a great learning experience for us.”
Work hard, play hard. That’s how it’s been to this point since the practices started. It’s a luxury when you have the depth that Arizona does. There’s a chance UA could go two deep at every position. Whether Lloyd does that is up to him, but he has acknowledged the depth more than once, including last night.
“Guys get after each other,” Ballo said.
Ballo pointed to KJ Lewis as an example. Lewis looked like an in-your-face defender and an athletic type to make it troubling for people on offense. He also has enough basketball ability to win last night’s dunk contest (more on that later).
Clearly, Lloyd is more than pleased with the competition. What coach wouldn’t be, right?
“The more competitive practices are, the better,” Lloyd said. “I think we got a good group with good balance and good numbers (depth). So, you’re able to get after each other a little bit more and maybe get some more live, realistic reps. Hopefully, that’ll really bode well for us this season.”
If anything, Friday was a nice start in front of an estimated 12,000 fans, although UA officials called it a sellout.
It did have a lot of everything, including a star-studded showing of former UA players. At least three or four or five who rarely make appearances in McKale. Mile Simon, Mike Bibby, Andre Iguodala joined in on the fun of Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson, the latter two playing hosts to the event.
Lloyd said it “was awesome” to see the return of the former players.
“To have those guys engage and re-engage with our program is very important,” Lloyd said. “I understand the honor it is for me to have this position … while I’m here and the leader of the program I want to make sure those guys feel honored in every way, shape or form. It’s really cool to get them back. We’re just scratching the surface with their involvement in the program.”
Perhaps the player felt inspired in front of the former players. Or were just inspired to play hard in front of a few thousand onlookers.