Yes, Arizona is now 10-0. Yes, they have their best start in 25 years. But with those accolades, the Wildcats still have many growing pains. Against ETSU, Arizona only shot 42% and turned the ball over 18 times (after 17 in their last game), half of them coming from the point guard position. Even with the turnovers and poor shooting numbers, UA blew out Eastern Tennessee 73-53.
The bright spot on the game was Brandon Ashley’s continued emergence as a force on this team. He scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in only 22 minutes and was the only player on UA to score more than ten. Another plus, this is Ashley’s second straight game scoring in double figures meaning he may be finally adjusting to the college game.
Now back to the turnovers. After the game, Sean Miller had a lot to say about the Wildcat’s lack of ball control. In the second half, UA turned the ball over 12 times, a recipe for disaster against any competent team. Anthony Gimino quoted Coach Sean Miller on his Tucson Citizen article about turnovers saying, “It’s hard for me to believe we’re 10-0 with the way we take care of the ball,” adding “It’s simple things: Passing, catching, looking at the person that you’re throwing to, not standing in three seconds. Our point guard position … when your team has nine turnovers from that spot, it makes for a tough game.”
In wins, fixing flaws is one of the hardest things to do because the focus is more on the win column, than the error column. Luckily, Miller seems to have the focus on the errors and letting the W’s just fall in line.
This tournament will be a great measuring stick on the Arizona season, as they play their second game in a row tonight against Miami, meaning the adjustments must be made quickly.
Miami (8-1) is riding a seven game winning streak which has seen them win by 12 or more points in each of them. Miami, as with Arizona, allows less than 60 points a game while scoring just less than the fourth ranked Wildcats, 78 versus 72.
Miami’s signature win of the season game came against then #13 ranked Michigan State where the Hurricanes held the Spartans to 40% shooting.
The Hurricanes are led by five players, four of which are seniors, who score in double figures. Durand Scott leads the charge with over 16 points per game. Shane Larkin, Reggie Johnson, Trey McKinney Jones, and Kenny Kadji average 14, 13, 11, 11 respectively. After those five, the production drops off, which shows the importance of slowing these players down and making role players take shots.
Johnson and Kadji are both over 6’10 and have four years of experience which will prove to be another challenge for Arizona’s freshman
center Kaleb Tarczewski. ‘Zues’ must figure out a way to stay on the floor and out of foul trouble, while playing solid defense on two players who will will command the ball.
On the flip side, Arizona is led by Mark Lyons (13.3), Nick Johnson (12.9), and Solomon Hill (12.3). After those three, the Wildcats have a surging Ashley (9.5) and the ever so solid Kevin Parrom (7.9). When those five on the offensive side are coupled with seven footer Tarczewski, 6’11 Grant Jerrett, and shot blocker Angelo Chol protecting the basket, it makes Arizona a formidable opponent few want to take on.
If UA can keep the turnovers to a minimum, limit the post touches of Miami, and shoot their average of 49%, it should be another happy day in the Aloha state.