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September 14, 2006

Dillon shines for Arizona on summer trip

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If the United States' third-place finish in the World Championships last month didn't serve as a reminder of how Americans still have a long way to go in grasping the international game and all its nuances, then Arizona offered the basketball world another on its recent five-game tour of Canada.

The Wildcats' leading scorer wasn't Mustafa Shakur, one of the last players to pull his name out of the NBA Draft, or Marcus Williams, the team's most talented player. Little-known Australian guard Daniel Dillon led the way for the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-3 junior averaged 12.5 points per game and shot a team-high 56 percent from the field, impressive stats for someone who hadn't scored in double figures in his first two seasons.

"The best guard on this trip in terms of consistency was Daniel," Arizona coach Lute Olson said.

While some Wildcats were adjusting to the rule changes and the differences in the court, Dillon looked right at home.

"We're playing my kind of game," he said. "I like the extended 3-point line and the (bigger) lane. I felt good out there."

Dillon's performance will probably lead to a steady spot in the Wildcats' new rotation. He started playing more down the stretch last season, averaging 15 minutes a game in their last 10 games.

Freshman point guard Nic Wise looks like he is on a path towards earning some playing time as well. Locked in their toughest game of the tournament against the University of British Columbia last Tuesday, the 5-foot-10 product from Houston took over during one stretch. He made a variety of big shots, including a clutch 3-pointer that helped seal a 87-76 win and a 5-0 record for the Wildcats. He finished with a team-high 21 points.

That performance, along with some impressive play in pick-up games, has heated up talk about Wise. A three-star recruit, Wise appears to have the inside track on the backup point guard job ahead of former five-star recruits J.P. Prince and Jawann McClellan (missed the trip with injury).

Arizona's highly touted freshman Chase Budinger also missed most of the games with an illness.

Staying on the international front, Wisconsin wasn't allowed to bring freshmen on its recent trip to Italy because school hadn't started yet. Even without their three incoming recruits, the journey ended with a 5-0 record for the Badgers - who appear to a very deep team.

Most of the games were routs, but the Italian team Castelletto Ticino grabbed a 59-52 lead entering the fourth quarter in the final game of the tour. The Badgers outscored them 31-15 over the final period and came away with an 83-74 win thanks to a balanced effort.

Alando Tucker, who is likely to be the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year, scored 20 points. Kammron Taylor and Michael Flowers added 15 apiece and Marcus Landry, who missed most of last season with academic problems, finished with 11.

Wake Forest, which lost six of its top seven scorers, unveiled its revamped squad on a trip to the Bahamas that also ended last week. Coach Skip Prosser's team includes six freshmen, and he didn't give many indications as to what his starting lineup will look like.

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The Deacons stuck to a platoon system, usually subbing out five players at a time. Everyone played about the same amount of minutes on the tour.

Sophomore power forward Kevin Swinton might have been the biggest bright spot. He provided a solid inside presence for most of the tour and led the squad with an 11.5 points-per-game average.

Trivia question
Who is the only man to play in the NCAA Championship game with two different schools? (Hint: He played on the last team to go undefeated through the regular and postseasons. Answer at the end of the column.).

Bradley Center gets big stage
Marquette coach Tom Crean has long talked about the underrated atmosphere at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Golden Eagles fans will get their chance show their stuff this season.

ESPN GameDay will be coming to the venue for the first time to hold its live show there March 3. Marquette plays host to Pittsburgh in its nationally televised regular-season finale.

It took a lot of campaigning from Crean and cooperation from outside sources to lure the show. A Milwaukee Bucks game was originally scheduled for the date but, thanks to some help from owner and senator Herb Kohl, it was moved.

Crean is also dealing with some bad news, which could potentially get much worse.

The NCAA is looking into eligibility issues surrounding Lazar Hayward, the prize recruit of Marquette's freshman class. Hayward is being kept out of team-related activities and individual workouts.

Hayward, who was ranked the No. 73 overall prospect in the class of 2006, was expected to challenge for a starting job and play significant minutes.

Troubled Times at Temple
Fran Dunphy looks to be headed for a very rough first season at Temple.

The Owls new coach was already facing some big holes to fill when he took over the program in April. The Owls' top two scorers were seniors last season, including first-round pick Mardy Collins and Antwayne Robinson.

Dunphy will also have to make due without the team's top returning scorer and his starting center at least until after Dec. 16. Junior forward Mark Tyndale, who averaged 10.9 points and 5.1 boards a game, and senior center Wayne Marshall (7.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg), were recently ruled academically ineligible for the first semester. The pair will miss at least the first six games of the season.

The Owls also lost two of their three signees, a pair of power forwards who would have likely provided immediate help. Matt Shaw was released from his letter-of-intent and wound up at UNLV. Mike Scott did not reach academic requirements.

N.C. State Forward Will Decide Hoops Future Soon
N.C. State's two-sport athlete Andrew Brackman is expected to decide whether he will keep playing basketball sometime next week.

Some scouts believe the 6-foot-10, 235-pound power forward and right-handed pitcher could be the first pick in the 2007 baseball draft, but we're hearing that he's very torn and the baseball coaches aren't sure what he'll do.

New basketball coach Sidney Lowe and his assistants made re-recruiting Brackman one of their first priorities - and with good reason. The big man was a role player for the most part in Herb Sendek's Princeton-style system, averaging 7.5 ppg and 3.5 rpg during his first two seasons. But he is the only returning post player with any significant experience.

If Brackman decides to focus solely on baseball, the 'Pack would have to rely on 6-9 sophomore Ben McCauley and 7-foot-3 freshman Bartosz Lewandowski. McCauley played just 6.9 minutes a game last season, and Lewandowski is a lightly recruited Polish center who Lowe began pursuing soon after taking the job.

In other Wolfpack news, guard Engin Atsur helped lead Turkey to a surprising run to the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Championships in Japan. The senior didn't play in the first two games, but he averaged seven points in their next four contests and hit two clutch 3-pointers to spark a comeback win over Slovenia in the first round.

Quick Hits
Coverage of the Big Break All-Star Challenge, a golf event pitting Connecticut's Jim Calhoun, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, Maryland's Gary Williams and Houston's Tom Penders against one another, is being aired on The Golf Channel this week. You can catch the last two replays on Friday at midnight and Saturday at 4 pm. (EST). Coaches receive cash awards which will be donated to charities.

DeAthony Ford, who has been accused of killing former USC guard Ryan Francis, was sent back to jail by a judge who denied bond from another arrest. Ford, 19, was originally freed on a $300,000 bond after being charged with second-degree murder.

Kansas State's athletic department signed a $12.3 million contract with Nike last week. Only about 12 other schools have deals of that size. According to his contract, the school must give new basketball coach Bob Huggins at least $125,000 a year from that deal.

Answer to trivia question: Bob Bender. He played for the undefeated Indiana team in 1976, then transferred to Duke and played in the 1978 NCAA final against Kentucky.

Note: Internet sites within the Rivals.com network and other media outlets contributed to this report.

Andrew Skwara is the national college basketball writer for Rivals.com, and he files his national notebook every Thursday. Click here to send him a question or comment for his weekly mailbag.

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