After a somewhat lucky 3-0 start, the Wildcats take on St John’s Thursday in Madison Square Garden. St John’s is coached by a couple familiar faces to Wildcat fans, Steve Lavin and Mike Dunlap, leading a young and talented bunch. ESPN ranked their 2011 recruiting class as the third best, bringing in 4 ESPN top 100 commits along with two Junior College recruits. They are similar to Arizona, having a couple wins over mediocre opponents. Thursday’s game will be a true test for both teams. Here’s a look inside Miller’s key points for a Wildcat win:
FREE THROWS: I know I put this up every time, but until the Wildcats shoot better from the line it will continue to be a key point. Arizona went 31-43 from the line Sunday against Ball State, so getting to the line is not problem for the cats; actually putting the ball through the net is. Shooting 72% is better than before, but when you play a better team like St John’s they will punish you if you do not convert the easy points. I’m looking for the higher 70’s/ lower 80’s percentage from the line.
BOXING OUT: There were too many times in the Ball State game where Chol and other Wildcats could have easily boxed their player out and gotten the rebound; instead, a Ball State player ended up with the board. Rebounds will be the determinant of who wins the game because it will lead to second chance points.
PLAY WITHIN THEMSELVES: The Wildcats have a tendency to force the issue a bit much, especially in the first half. Last game against Ball State 10 of the 13 turnovers in the game occurred in the first half. This issue has to do with Solomon Hill taking the ball up, guys like Brandon Lavender and Kyle Fogg miss-handling the ball, and our big men not keeping the ball high.
WILDCATS WHO NEED TO SHOW MORE: Freshman PG Josiah Turner not only did not start against Ball State, he did not record a single minute in the game. Miller wants him to get accustomed to the college game and observe before he gains Miller’s trust. That being said, I think Josiah will play Thursday and play A LOT. He will breakout and show the nation why he was such a highly recruited player out of high school.
X FACTOR: The beloved Bronx native Kevin Parrom is arguably the reason why we won against Ball State. He brings so much to the court. Boy are we glad to have him back!
ST JOHN’S PLAYERS TO WATCH: The two Junior College transfers have made an early impact for the Red Storm on both sides of the ball. God’s Gift Achiuwa, a 6-8 Junior, is exactly what his name depicts, God’s Gift, leading the Red Storm in both points per game (17.7) and rebounds per game (8.3). Nurideen Lindsey, a 6-3 Sophomore Guard, fills up every column of the stat sheet. He averages 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 3.3 steals per game.
PREDICTIONS: It will be the Wildcats true first test, being away from home and playing a much better opponent. Cats win 68-63. GO CATSSSSSS!!!!!