Finally the time has come, Arizona is playing its first real game of the 2012-13 season. The season with high hopes, finally a big man rotation that doesn’t have Solomon Hill, instead 4 players 6′-8″ or taller, allowing Hill to play his natural position (SF) for the first time at Arizona. Many analysts are calling U of A early favorites to win the Pac 12 title and with the recent news of UCLA’s covented freshman, Muhammad ruled ineligible to participate in a number of games yet to be announced. The road to the Pac 12 title starts Sunday afternoon in Tucson, when the 12th ranked cats take on Charleston. Charleston was also picked to win their respective conference (Big South). Let’s take a look into the Miller’s Chalkboard and see what the Wildcats need to do to get a victory.
Rebounds: With the new big man rotation there is no excuse as to why we shouldn’t be able to out-rebound every team we face this season. Yeah we handliy took care of both Humbolt State and Chico State in the exhibition games, but if we took a closer look; thtat was not that much of an accomplishment. An undersized Humbolt State did not have a player taller than 6′-9″ (1) while the rest were mostly 6′-4″ to 6′-6″. Chico State had a few players taller than 6′-8″ (3), and while we had 9 more rebounds than them, our tallest player on the court; Kaleb Tarczewski had zero rebounds, ZERO!!! Now that is just in-excusable and I’m sure coach Sean Miller had a long talk with the freshman about how vital rebounds will be to this team. So if the cats expect to win Sunday, the cats mush out-rebound Charleston Southern by a large number to prevent them from second chances, while creating some for us.
Leadership: With Solomon Hill now a senior and playiing his natural position, look for him to take the reins of this team in clutch situations. With the kry addition of Mark Lyons, this also relieves some of the pressure off Hill. In the first two games it was very evident Mark Lyons was a leader, not only is he the floor general, he took players aside and would talk to them to encourage them about their play (bad or good) as they were being substituted. With two proven seniors, the Cats will have two players to look to late in close games.
Free Throws: In the first exhibiton, the Cats looked terrible from the line shooting a mere 59% going 19 for 32, but shaped up in the second game improving that number to 77%. Some of that I will blame on being the first collegiate game for most of these young players and getting out the early jitters, but being consistent on free throws are key for any team. The cats will need to convert on these opportunities for easy points and put their opponent away.
Predictions: Expect the Cats to come out strong and have a deep rotation with at least nine players playing over 15 minutes, Solomon Hill will lead the charge with close to, if not a double double. Cats win, 91-75.