Arizona Basketball has elite shooters and when they get going this team can make some noise, making them a dangerous team during the Pac-12 Tournament and more importantly during the NCAA Tournament.
This season Arizona Basketball has shown that when shots are falling, from starters and those coming off the bench, they can be a dangerous team that can make a deep run during the postseason. When shots are not falling, it has a significant impact on their confidence and trickles down to all other aspects of the overall performance of this team. Whether it’s Zeke Nnaji hitting jumpers, Nico Mannion making shots, Dylan Smith knocking down threes or the bench play making it splash, the Wildcats have a lot of shooters on this team.
Currently, the Wildcats rank 25th in the country with 78.3 points per game. On the defensive end, they get the job done as well, limiting their opponents to 65.3 points per game, which is 71st in the country. When they are pushing the pace off of defensive rebounds or forced turnovers this team is at their best. The problem though sometimes is due to lack of rebounding, it forces the Wildcats to slow down the pace on offensive, which is not their strong suit.
When they have had to play against the zone this season they’ve had success feeding the balls in the gaps to Stone Gettings and Nnaji. Those two have either knock down the mid-range jumper or feed the ball to an open teammate on the wing or in the paint. The Wildcats offense tends to get stagnate sometimes, especially against the zone, when players are standing around and they aren’t moving without the ball.
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Three-pointers. As a team, they are shooting 36% from beyond the arc, which puts them 53rd in the nation. The Wildcats have five legit players that can shoot the long ball with Gettings being the team’s best shooter, followed by Jemarl Baker, Smith, Max Hazzard, and Mannion. All five of these players have the ability to take over the game because of their shooting abilities from three.
Recently, Smith had been 0-17 from three before going 4-5 against California (including 4 made in the second half). He was someone Miller was thinking about as far as being replaced in the starting lineup. Not anymore. Sometimes players go through shooting slumps. As long as Smith continues to believe in his shooting ability, he will knock them down.
Hazzard coming off the bench is the Wildcats deadliest shooter. If he gets going this team can be hard to defeat during March Madness. In all my years of watching college basketball, he has one of the quickest releases in college basketball. Against Utah at home earlier this year he was 6-10 from three and finished with a season-high 24 points.
It’s just not the guards who make this a dangerous team but also the bigs too, headlined by one of the best forward in college basketball, Nnaji. Just feed him the ball inside and he’ll do the rest. When the team has needed a bucket, Nnaji has been one to deliver. When they go away from not getting Nnaji the ball is when this team suffers the most. Miller has made it a point to get him the ball as much as possible.
Ira Lee and Christian Koloko are the two other frontcourt players for the Wildcats who’ve had made a significant impact this season. Lee, one of the Wildcats more experienced players, as come along of late and starting to find his rhythm on offense. On defense, he always has always been consistent and looking for the sway!
Koloko, whose minutes have increased over the course of the season makes an immediate impact every time he is in the game. At one moment in the game, the seven-footer had back to back blocks. In a couple of years, he’s going to be scary good!
Come post-season, all it takes is for one or two players to get going and this team will be unstoppable. Based on how they have performed again the top teams in the nation, many don’t think this team has what it takes to make a deep run during March Madness. But when they shoot 48% from the field and make six three-pointers, they show why there are a team not to sleep on during the Big Dance!
Arizona Basketball currently sits overall at 17-7 and 7-4 in the Pac-12 conference. Yes, they have had some games in which they shot poorly, but in the end, this team is still having a good season considering everything that has happened. As long as they can continue to believe in their shooting abilities, they have what it takes to make a deep run come March. As always, Bear Down, Arizona!