Where: Honolulu, Hawaii
When: 8:30PM (Mountain)
Radio: 193 XM
The #4 Arizona Wildcats (8-0, 0-0) will head to Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic tournament, looking to get some quality non-conference wins along the way to a championship. The first opponent in the way is East Tennessee State (2-7,0-0); some of you may remember a while back, Eastern Tennessee State (a 14 seed at the time) upset the cats (a 3 seed) in the 1992 NCAA tournament 87-80. This year the Bucs have gotten out to a slow start only averaging 57.9 points a game on 37.5% shooting. The Bucs are fresh off a loss to Charleston Southern 72-51, whom the Wildcats beat 82-73. Let’s take a look inside Miller’s Chalkboard to make sure the Wildcats don’t get upset again:
Bucs To Watch: Freshman Lester Wilson is a 6′-4″ forward, leading the team in points per game at 17.9, while contributing 6.8 rebounds a game, good for second on the team. He is a really good shooter hitting 41% from the field and almost 40% from long range. The Cats cannot afford to allow him to get in a rhythm. The other Buc who the cats need to be on the lookout for is Hunter Harris, a 6-7 PF who does a little bit of everything. He pulls down 6.9 rebounds a game to go along with his 7.9 points a game. He will be a tough challenge for our big men to keep off the boards. Kaleb will most likely be matched up with Harris throughout the game, so he will need to utilize his size and strength against the smaller Harris.
Rebounds: Speaking of Kaleb, where is he? Yes he’s a freshman and will not always show up every game due to inconsistency, but 0 rebounds last game against a mediocre Oral Roberts and fouling out is inexcusable. He looks a little stiff sometimes when going up for rebounds, but we really need him to loosen up and find his swag. He only had 3 rebounds against Florida before fouling out of the game as well. Chol has stepped in and worked hard to get rebounds in place of Kaleb, but that won’t last forever. Zeus is only averaging 5.6 a game, I would like to see that improve to around 8 for the biggest guy on our squad.
Turnovers: I know we have a young team but to be turning the ball over so much will soon daunt us if we don’t take care of the ball. We had 18 against Oral Roberts, to put us at 8.9 per game on the year. The players who lead the way with turnovers this season are Mark Lyons (25), Solomon Hill (21), and Kaleb Tarczewski (21). Our top two seniors leading the way doesn’t sit well in my stomach, how about yours? On top of them being the two most experienced players on our team, they handle the ball the most on offense (with the exception of Nick Johnson who has 15 turnovers himself) so we need them to reduce their turnovers. Yea we may get by these smaller schools with these kinds of performances, but if we wish to win this tournament by going through a tough Miami and #18 San Diego State, we better start taking care of the ball better.
Scoring: Last game everyone pitched in, 5 players scoring in double digits, 4 of which were the starters. Kaleb, the only started who didn’t, still came away with 8 points before fouling out with about 3 minutes left in the game. Against Florida we had 3 players scoring double digits along with some crucial bench points from Parrom and Jerrett. There is going to be freshman inconsistency as we have seen, but the key this year will to be have one or two of our freshman breakout a game and contribute in the scoring category as well as the other areas. Brandon Ashley has done a nice job of this, especially when he is having a bad night scoring. He usually makes up for it in other stat categories or just being long and causing havoc (see the last minute of the Florida game). If we can have 3-4 players score consistently in double-digits we will be dancing come early April.
Predictions: The Wildcats trounce ETSU early and never look back, 88-63.