Pjevcevic a big Wave surprise



This story originally appeared in the Times Picayune on 11/06/02. Reprinted by permission.

By Fred Robinson
Staff writer/The Times-Picayune

For two seasons, Ivan Pjevcevic's development into an inside-outside player moved along slowly.

Pjevcevic, 6 feet 11, seemed more comfortable on the perimeter and never showed signs of being the player who was going to give the Green Wave some much-needed help at the low post while still being a 3-point threat.

But with the regular season 16 days away, Pjevcevic, a junior, has been the Green Wave's biggest surprise during the past four weeks of workouts.

"Ivan is playing unbelievable. He's shooting the ball well, rebounding, and he's more physical," Tulane coach Shawn Finney said. "He's going to be a factor if he continues to go down this path and playing 15 minutes a game and contributing instead of just playing."

Pjevcevic, who averaged 6.7 minutes a game his first two seasons, stunned the Wave coaching staff with a 20-point, nine-rebound effort in Saturday's scrimmage. Finney is hoping Pjevcevic continues to show progress when the Green Wave plays Vasda tonight in the team's first exhibition game.

"He's growing up and just playing harder," said senior guard Brandon Spann.

Pjevcevic has grown an inch since arriving at Tulane. He has also added 15 pounds to his frame, something Finney attributes to his change in play.

"We sat down and talked last spring about what he needed to do in the weight room and what it was going to take for him to play," Finney said. "This summer, he really focused on trying to add strength and muscle. I think it's given him confidence to be more physical."

Of Pjevcevic's nine rebounds in last week's scrimmage, eight were on the defensive end.

"I guess I just figured it out," he said. "I stayed here all summer and had lots of time to think about everything. All I did was go to school and play basketball."

Not known for being physical, Pjevcevic said he realized it was a style he had to begin playing.

"I just figured I have to do those things," he said. "I may not like it, but I just have to do it. I've been pushed around for a long time; I just figured I had to play tougher."

Finney says he's not worried about Pjevcevic being overly aggressive.

"Ivan's never going to have a mean streak to where he's going to elbow somebody in the face, but he's playing more physical and not backing down from physical play," Finney said. "He's really going through people trying to get to the rim instead of just jumping away from people. Those are the things he had to learn to do."

With all five starters back from last year's team, moving into the Green Wave's starting lineup will be difficult for Pjevcevic, but Finney said it's not out of the question.

"If he continues down this road, he definitely has a chance of being a starter," Finney said.

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Fred Robinson can be reached at frobinson@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3412.

? The Times-Picayune. Used with permission.