Robert Morris Colonials (4-6) at Arizona Wildcats (10-2)by Javier Morales on Dec. 22, 2010, under Sports
First a note about the above video: Since Arizona is playing Robert Morris tonight in McKale Center, I thought I would go to my library and access the 1989 NCAA first-round game between the teams. I’ve uploaded it to YouTube and have provided it here for your viewing pleasure. Arizona won that game 94-60 to advance in the tournament. The Wildcats also played Robert Morris on Dec. 28, 1996. Arizona won that game 118-54 (the 64-point margin-of-victory stands as the largest in UA history). One last note about the video: The color commentator is former WAC referee Irv Brown, father of former co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown of the UA football team.
The following is a sample of what you can read before Arizona’s basketball games at our partner site WildAboutAZCats.com. The breakdown of positions, coaches and a predicted outcome are routinely published before each game over there.
By the way, WildAboutAZCats.com and another partner — SteveRiveraVentures.com — have a promotion running this season with Tino’s Pizza in Tucson. During any UA men’s hoops game (like tonight), order any large pizza (dine-in or carryout) get a discount of $2. Tino’s Pizza was voted as the Best Eastside Pizzeria by the Tucson Weekly last year.
Before we head into the matchups portion of what WildAboutAZCats.com has to offer, here are the Pac-10 ratings (according to Ken Pomeroy at KenPom.com) and upcoming game for each team (Red-highlighted games indicate important RPI games vs. a higher-rated non-conference opponent):
No. 5 Washington (7-3) vs. No. 201 Nevada, today
No. 19 Arizona (10-2) vs. No. 136 Robert Morris, today
No. 32 Washington State (8-1) vs. No. 117 Mississippi State, today
No. 58 UCLA (7-4) vs. No. 190 Cal-Irvine, tomorrow
No. 60 USC (7-5) vs. No. 195 Lehigh, tomorrow
No. 77 Arizona State (6-4) vs. No. 307 North Carolina A&T, tomorrow
No. 81 California (6-4) vs. No. 3 Kansas, today
No. 104 Stanford (6-4) vs. No. 191 Yale, Tues., Dec. 28
No. 114 Oregon (7-5) vs. No. 19 Arizona, Thur., Dec. 30
No. 198 Oregon State (4-6) vs. No. 210 Illinois-Chicago, today
What’s going right: Although only a freshman, 5-foot-11 guard Anthony Myers of Washington, D.C., has 28 assists and 12 turnovers (2.33 assist-to-turnover ratio) in four games as a starter. Sophomore guard Velton Jones, a sophomore, is shooting 63.2 percent (12-for-19) from the field in his last two games.
What’s going wrong: The third member of Robert Morris’ diminutive and young backcourt — 6-foot sophomore Karon Abraham — is shooting a respectable 38.5 percent from three-point range but Jones and Myers are a combined 13-of-49 (26.5 percent).
What’s going right: Lamont “MoMo” Jones is grasping the idea that he is needed most for his leadership and ability to get others involved rather than taking a lot of shots and scoring in double figures. Although he had only four points against N.C. State — after scoring 20 unnecessary points against BYU the previous week — Jones controlled the tempo of the UA’s offense and had four assists with only two turnovers in 24 minutes.
What’s going wrong: Kyle Fogg and Solomon Hill have disappeared of late as reliable options on the offensive end. Although Hill is the second-leading scorer (with only 8.6 points a game), he has not scored more than 10 points in his last seven games. Fogg scored 18 against Kansas on Nov. 27, but in the six games since then, he has tallied a total of only 36.
Who has the edge?: Arizona has a slight edge. The Cats have more maturity and experience, especially with Fogg being a three-year starter as a junior. Abraham has the potential to have a hot streak. He led all scorers with 23 points and made 5 of 11 shots from 3-point range, accounting for all of Robert Morris’s 3-pointers, in the Colonials’ near-upset of Villanova (losing 73-70) in the first round of the NCAA tournament last March. But Abraham lost some luster from that performance by serving a four-game suspension earlier this season for a violation of team rules.
What’s going right: Russell Johnson is the Colonials’ tallest starter at only 6-foot-6 and he is listed at only 180 pounds. As a wing player, he leads the team with 14.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
What’s going wrong: Yann Charles is another freshman starter — Toole’s club has three sophomores and two freshmen starting — and as a 6-5 “post player”, he rarely looks for his shot. He attempts only six a game and averages only 3.7 rebounds a game.
What’s going right: It is rare for a team’s leading scorer and rebounder — playing at the post — to also lead the team in steals, but that is what Derrick Williams is doing in his All-American season. He averages 19.5 points and 6.8 rebounds with 15 steals. He also leads the Cats in three-point percentage (70.6 percent, 12-of-17 shooting).
What’s going wrong: Not much is going right these days unfortunately for senior Jamelle Horne, who averages only 19.3 minutes per game. He averaged 28.2 minutes his sophomore and junior seasons.
Who has the edge?: Arizona. Although Robert Morris may have a quickness advantage, Williams and Horne are overall better basketball athletes than Johnson and Charles. Williams, 6-9, can actually tower over the opposition in this game which means he should get good looks at the basket.
What’s going right: RMU’s bench has outperformed its opponents reserves in seven of its 10 games so far this season. Robert Morris is averaging 15.5 points and 16.2 rebounds per game from its bench compared to 13.3 points and 16.6 rebounds per contest from the reserves of its opponents.
What’s going wrong: Resembling the Colonials as a whole, the bench is raw with the lone senior on the team (guard Gary Wallace), two freshmen and a sophomore. Wallace started six games but is now on the bench because he is shooting 28.1 percent from the field (9 of 32), including only 1-of-14 from three-point range.
What’s going right: Kevin Parrom and Jordin Mayes combine for 48 assists and 20 turnovers, which is more productive than the starting tandem of Jones and Fogg (65 assists and 47 turnovers). Mayes and Parrom charge the Cats in their own way: Mayes with his ball-handling and three-pointers (44.1 percent) and Parrom with his defense, rebounding and ability to either score or draw a foul around the basket.
What’s going wrong: Every player but one is shooting at least 75 percent from the free-throw line, including little-used reserve Daniel Bejarano. Mayes is the one struggling. He is shooting only 38.5 percent (5-of-13) from the line, which could come into play in close Pac-10 games.
Who has the edge?: Arizona. This is the group that mostly gives Arizona its mental toughness and standout performances (i.e. Brendon Lavender against NAU) when the Wildcats need it the most. Miller is concerned with his team’s defensive rebounding. Parrom, Jesse Perry and Kyryl Natyazhko are critical for the Cats to improve in that area.
Hard to believe but Miller, who turned 42 last month, is like an elder statesmen compared to Toole. When Toole was finishing his Penn career in 2003, Miller earned his first head coaching job at Xavier after serving as an assistant there for three years. No-brainer here: Toole is the first head coach Arizona has faced who was born in the 1980s. Advantage: Miller. Toole should take note of how the “old” coach conducts himself and directs his team tonight.
The Wildcats will enter next week’s Pac-10 season at Oregon with an 11-2 record if they take care of business against Robert Morris. The last time the Cats had at least 11 victories heading into conference play was in the 1999-2000 season, when they started 11-2. The difference between the two seasons: Lute Olson‘s non-conference success in 1999 included wins over Notre Dame and Kentucky in the Preseason NIT in New York, a victory at Texas and an 11-point win over Michigan State at McKale Center. Miller’s program in its current state can’t handle a schedule like that. The Cats will be 11-2 after a 22-point win tonight and they will be as confident as they can be. As Miller pointed out Tuesday, that’s all that matters right now from a program that has tried to find itself really the last four to five years.