New faces ready to introduce themselves as Arizona men's basketball prepares for Red-Blue game
Basketball is back at McKale Center.
For the first time in 203 days, the Arizona men’s basketball team will take the floor for the annual Red-Blue game, an inter-squad scrimmage that gives fans their first look at the team for the upcoming season.
Expectations will be much higher for the program this year, following a 17-15 season that saw the ‘Cats 52-game home non-conference winning streak snapped, as well as a sweep at the hands of rival ASU for the first time in a decade.
Here are three things to look for when the UA takes the court on Friday.
The New Guys
The biggest story-line of the off-season was the recruiting class, which ranked No. 6 in the nation according to 24/7 Sports.
While much of the buzz has focused on consensus top 20 recruits, Nico Mannion and Josh Green, Zeke Nnaji and Christian Koloko have also received praise this off-season from the coaching staff.
The freshmen won’t be the only new faces taking the court for the Wildcats this season.
Kentucky transfer Jermarl Baker and Nevada transfer Jordan Brown are allowed to play in the scrimmage despite not being able to play this year, although Baker recently applied for an NCAA waiver that would make him eligible this season. Cornell graduate transfer Stone Gettings and UC Irvine graduate transfer Max Hazzard also will take the floor for the first time as Wildcats.
While the game itself is traditionally low scoring and the two teams are split up evenly, it provides an opportunity to see how some players mesh with one another on the court, giving a potential look at how the starting lineup might shake out this season.
Mannion and Chase Jeter appear to be the only players firmly locked into starting roles, with a wide range of players interchangeable throughout the rest of the lineup.
The back court next to Mannion could be occupied by Hazzard, senior defensive stopper Dylan Smith, or Baker, if cleared to play.
On the wing, Smith and Green will battle for minutes with sophomore Devonaire Doutrive, who Head Coach Sean Miller said might be the most improved player on the entire roster entering the season.
In the front court, Gettings provides a different look than Lee or Nnaji in terms of being able to stretch the floor, although Lee said he worked on his outside shot more this summer.
“Coach has definitely been in my ear more about if I have an open three taking it,” Lee said. “If I have an open lane taking it. Just being more confident.”
Before the action tips off, the team puts together a dunk contest that gives the players a chance to show off some of their creativity.
Highlights from past contests include Rawle Alkins jumping over Head Coach Miller and Ira Lee donning a Khalil Tate jersey before dunking.
“I don’t know if I’m gonna do it this year,” Lee said. “I might let the young guys get the shine.”
The field remains a mystery, with Green potentially joining past freshman winners in Stanley Johnson and Aaron Gordon.
Fans will be able to see everything when the game tips off Friday at 7 p.m., with the game also being shown on the Pac-12 Network.
Follow Daily Wildcat on Twitter