The trip to Vancouver this weekend by the University of Arizona men’s basketball team may turn out better than what was to have been a two-week European trip in May.
Even if the Wildcats will be without senior Ivan Radenovic, who will not make the trip because he failed to secure a visa in time.
Outside of what would have been a tremendous cultural experience going to Serbia and Italy, Arizona coach Lute Olson said, this weekend’s trip to British Columbia, Canada, will be more beneficial because the players get a chance to bond and get valuable playing time together.
UA would have been without freshmen Nic Wise, Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill for the European trip.
“I think you’re going to see more and more college teams doing this,” Olson said. “With the NCAA rules as they are, you can’t take freshmen with you when you go in May, June or July. They have to be in school. This gives us a jump-start on our season because once we come back, we are allowed two hours a week with them.”
This weekend alone, schools such as Wichita State, New Mexico State and Fresno State will be in Vancouver for preseason exhibition games.
The three UA freshmen will see action, but the Wildcats will still be short-handed.
Junior Jawann McClellan won’t play because of his recent knee surgery, and sophomore Fendi Onobun won’t play because he suffered a knee bruise last week.
Olson said he will use two rosters and divvy up playing time equally among the veterans and newcomers.
One five will be Mustafa Shakur, Daniel Dillon, Marcus Williams, Kirk Walters and Bret Brielmeier. The other five will be Wise, J.P. Prince, Budinger, Mohamed Tangara and Hill. Walk-on David Bagga will play with each team.
Olson said, barring injuries or fouls, he’ll keep each group together and play each team equally.
UA HOOPS TRIP SCHEDULE
Saturday: Noon: Arizona vs. University of Saskatchewan (at University of British Columbia), 7 p.m.: Arizona at University of British Columbia.
Sunday: Noon: Arizona vs. Vancouver All-Stars (at Simon Fraser University); 7 p.m.: Arizona at Simon Fraser University
Monday: 9 a.m.: Arizona vs. University of British Columbia (at Douglas College)