Ahh, was it great or what to be back in McKale Center for a regular season basketball game? The final score may have shown Arizona winning by nine, but this game was much closer as Arizona was trailing for approximately the first 15 minutes. The Wildcats again came out slow and cold, a trend they seem intent on continuing. This could easily be attributed to the cold weather or below average competition (even though CSU played pretty damn well). What will unnerve me is if Arizona does this every game like they did last year. If it continues to happen, Coach Sean Miller may need to change up their pre-game warm ups to jump start the team.
Too many 3′s and the Invisible Size Advantage:
As an overall percentage, 34% is not bad for three pointers. However, when a team shoots 32 outside shots, that is just too many. Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill took half the teams three point shots, going 6-16. Nick Johnson, after showing an improved shot in the preseason, was only 1-5. The reason they took so many shots was the zone CSU was playing. To their credit, they played it really well, Arizona just had enough firepower to beat it.
CSU had to play a zone because Arizona vastly out sized them. UA played the first half with the starters and excess size, but Southern foiled all attempts to get the ball down low. The Wildcats rotated Kaleb Tarczewski, Angelo Chol, Grant Jerrett and Brandon Ashley throughout the first half, but after the intermission that rotation dwindled down to Ashley and Jerrett. Call it Arizona’s version of ‘small ball’ with players 6’8 and 6’11.
Tarczewski only played 16 minutes, while Chol netted 11. Ashley, who had 12 points played 24 minutes, the top for non starters.
As the season wears on and the freshman get more playing time, I expect Miller to stick with at least ‘Zeus’ as he’s a huge advantage on both sides of the ball due to his athleticism and size.
Attacking the Zone:
For the record, I hate zones. In high school our zone offense, called Iowa, was not effective (or we weren’t very good; flip a coin) and that inefficiency seems to have carried on to college. This offensive let down (granted we did score 82) was probably due to it being the first game of the season and the team is still working out its kinks. How I understand the zone is you need to get the ball into the corner, making the defense fully rotate over, then you swing the ball around the arc, thus creating open shots and many holes. Another way is to get the ball to the big man, let the double come, then kick it out for the open shot, or find a cutter in the lane. Arizona, however, did not do this very often or at all. The ball rarely went to the corner and even less to the post man. I am not sure if it is the lack of faith in the pass out, or our guards are more focused on attacking zone via the dribble, one of the major sins when facing a zone offense (at least right away). Many teams last year found out the best way to contend against the Wildcats was to play a zone and I envision teams down the road this season doing the same. Hopefully the coaching staff has the team perfect the offense and ready to light up the scoreboard the next time a team pulls the zone out.
I really liked the balance scoring Arizona had on Sunday. UA had five players in double figures, with Mark Lyons leading the way with 17. Another great sign is Arizona had 25 assists to 27 made field goals. That is the definition of team ball. The only downside was the amount of fouls called on the Wildcats. The officials were calling a lot of ticky-tack fouls, and they piled up on Arizona. UA had three players with four fouls: Nick Johnson, Kevin Parrom, and Solomon Hill. From here on out we get multiple games a week, with the next one on Thursday at 8pm.
Post Game Interviews: