Arizona basketball's annual Red-Blue scrimmage on Sunday is just that -- a scrimmage. It wasn't, however, the usual, showy highlight-reel type of scrimmage. The Red and Blue squads combined to shoot 41 percent during the 24-minute run, shooting 3-of-14 from behind the three-point arc.
It was the first bit of evidence the Wildcats aren't a great shooting squad. Or, as Sean Miller said afterward, it was a sign of how good the team is defensively.
"I would say I'm going to look positively at it in that I think we're a very good defensive team," Miller said, according to the Arizona Daily Star. "I think we have a chance to be excellent. We didn't break down because it wasn't like an all-star game. I thought we had a pretty good way about us to be able to play hard from start to finish.
What else did we take from the scrimmage?
Kaleb Tarczewski quietly led his Red team with 18 points and went 6-for-7 from the field. A true lowpost scorer, Tarczewski exemplifies how the Wildcats will operate in 2013-14. This is a paint-oriented team on both ends of the court and without many shooters to stretch the defense.
Will there be enough room to operate? Maybe not, but Arizona assuredly will be able to outphysical almost any team in the nation with Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Aaron Gordon.
Speaking of Ashley, the sophomore forward actually made Gordon look poor at defense a couple of times by backing him down and scoring at the rim. The lowpost emphasis was good to see after Ashley reportedly was looking lost in the tryouts for the U-20 national team this summer.
Meanwhile, Gordon finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and three assists after winning the dunk contest -- to no one's surprise.
Again, maybe it doesn't mean much as a scrimmage. Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell didn't find a rhythm in their shooting or otherwise. McConnell went 1-for-5 with three assists and two turnovers, and Johnson went 2-of-10 from the field.
It was a rare sight to see a scrimmage dominated by big men, but that will be a theme for the Wildcats through March. The perimeter defense looked solid for a scrimmage environment and such is to be expected from Johnson and McConnell.
Freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 18 for the Blue team and looked impressive from a physical standpoint -- think Andre Iguodala in his sophomore season at Arizona after he beefed up. Jefferson slashed his way on offense and though Miller said he was behind on defense has the natural instincts to make up for what he lacks in knowledge.
Hollis-Jefferson is sure to find playing time even with Gordon eating up minutes at small forward.
- According to Bruce Pascoe, forward Zach Peters has yet to be cleared and there is no timetable for a return to the court.
- Elliott Pitts could redshirt this season but could still work his way into contributing during his freshman year in the next few weeks.
- Assistant coach Book Richardson could return to the bench relatively soon, Miller told the media. Richardson has taken a medical leave for undisclosed reasons.