Despite stats, all-Pac-10 picks, Arizona Wildcats more than Derrick Williamsby Javier Morales on Mar. 09, 2011, under Sports
Never before has a Pac-10 Player of the Year from Arizona been the only Wildcat recognized on the all-conference team.
Derrick Williams was the only UA player selected among the Pac-10′s elite this week by league coaches. That differs from when Sean Elliott, Chris Mills, Damon Stoudamire, Mike Bibby and Jason Terry earned the conference’s player of the year honor.
Elliott was joined on the all-Pac-10 team in 1987-88 by Steve Kerr and Anthony Cook. A year later, Cook again joined Elliott as an all-conference pick.
Stoudamire and Mills were part of the 1992-93 all-Pac-10 team. Two years later, when Stoudamire was the league’s co-player of the year with UCLA’s Ed O’Bannon, UA forward Ray Owes was also part of the all-conference team.
Bibby in 1997-98 was on the all-Pac-10 team with Michael Dickerson and Miles Simon — one of the best perimeter groups in conference history. Terry was accompanied by A.J. Bramlett and Michael Wright in 1998-99.
At least Lamont “MoMo” Jones was an honorable mention choice this year.
Williams’ lone representation of the Wildcats among the Pac-10′s elite only adds fuel to the general misconception of the national media that the Wildcats are a one-man band. As far as perception goes, it does Arizona no good that Williams is scoring 18.8 points a game, more than the next two players are averaging combined. Jones and Kyle Fogg average 18.4 points.
The balance underneath Williams, however, does Arizona a lot of good.
Note to the national media who form their opinion by looking at statistics: Arizona should be looked at more as a team with multiple components. How talented and effective those components are on a game-by-game basis is up for debate. But truth be known: Arizona is not Derrick Williams and the 12 Dwarfs.
- In Pac-10 games in which Williams was not the leading scorer, Arizona went 6-2. The most significant victory among those six was the triple-overtime 107-105 win at Cal in which Williams had only 12 points before fouling out and Jones (27 points) and Kevin Parrom (25) combined for 52.
- The evolution of Arizona’s role players in the Pac-10 season was huge considering that in the non-conference schedule, Williams was not the leading scorer only once. That was at BYU in a humbling 87-65 loss on Dec. 11. Jones led the Wildcats with 20. Williams finished with 13.
- Five different players other than Williams led Arizona in scoring. Parrom’s hot hand that resulted in 20 points at Oregon on Dec. 30 carried the Cats to a 76-57 victory. Jamelle Horne‘s uplifting, team-leading 16-point performance against Stanford on Jan. 9 was just what Tucson needed a day after the shooting tragedy of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other victims. The Cats held off the Cardinal 67-57. Fogg’s 26 points at ASU in a 67-52 win on Feb. 13 occurred after Jones and Parrom led the Cats over Cal. Finally, the UA clinched the outright regular-season Pac-10 title behind Jones’ 17 points against Oregon State (70-59 win) and Fogg’s 20 against Oregon (90-82 victory).
- In games in which Williams was not the leading rebounder, Arizona was 10-1. That does not include games in which Williams tied another Wildcat for the rebounding lead. In those games, Arizona was 2-1.
Ironically, Arizona is very dependent on Williams, as the scoring and rebounding averages and all-conference selections suggest, but coach Sean Miller‘s balance from players No. 2 to No. 9 is what earned him the Pac-10 regular-season title and coach of the year honor.
Another reason why Miller is deserving of the Pac-10 coaching honor: Williams was the only Arizona player among the top 20 scorers and rebounders in the league. Moreover, Arizona did not have a player among the league’s top 10 players in assists, steals, blocked shots and three-pointers made.
But in the most important category — victories — Arizona was better than anybody else.
This is arguably Arizona’s best overall team performance, rivaling the school’s first Final Four team of 1987-88. I am not writing that this team is as talented as that one — not even close — but in terms of overall team contribution, this group is as good as it gets.
Please follow me on Twitter: @JavierJMorales
I will also be in Los Angeles for the Pac-10 tournament, starting with Arizona’s game Thursday against either Stanford or Oregon State.