1. Oumar Ballo and his body transformation
The summer of 2022 was undoubtedly a productive period for the University of Arizona’s men’s basketball 7-foot center from Koulikoro, Mali. Oumar Ballo had the crowd on notice during the Red/Blue scrimmage, posting 16 points to go with seven rebounds. Understanding head coach Tommy Lloyd’s system, Ballo knew it was imperative to try and get in better shape throughout the off-season.
The junior big man looked more comfortable defending the pick and roll and attacking the switch more quickly than the McKale center crowd had seen last winter. Ballo showed flashes of a newly developed handle throughout the scrimmage as he put the ball on the deck and got to the rim for a transition layup. With the departure of Christian Koloko to the NBA, it is likely he will find himself starting for the Wildcats come November.
Arizona will need the type of production that Ballo provided in the Red-Blue game to fill the void of Koloko and have another championship caliber season.
2. Chemistry issues
Only having two starters return from a Pac-12 Championship team and six new scholarship players, the roster is undoubtedly revamped. Both teams combined for 29 turnovers in a game that consisted of 12 minute halves. A likely combination of inexperience and nerves plagued the Wildcats’ ball security. With coach Lloyd’s mindset on tonight’s game, he did not seem too worried.
“I just like to see our guys under the lights and see how they respond,” Lloyd said. “We’ll break down this film, and I’m sure there’s going to be some really good things, and there’s going to be some obvious things we need to get better at.”
3. Freshman contributions
Henri Veesaar was a bright spot for the Wildcats last night. Veesaar showed a little bit of everything. From Estonia, the 7-foot center was more than impressive, having 16 points and four rebounds. At 7 feet tall, Veesaar proved why he is a modern day big man.
While active on the glass, Veesaar excelled in the pick and roll, even looking comfortable stretching the floor to the three-point line, despite coming up short. He showed the potential as a reliable mid-range shooter, hitting free throws and converting.
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