Arizona may rely too much on sophomore forward sensation Derrick Williams, but the Wildcats are 13-3 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-10.
Of course, 16-0 and 3-0 would be much better for some Arizona fans, but the current record is something to build on, considering all the “hot button” topics involved with the Wildcats, as second-year coach Sean Miller calls them.
One of those buttons is the heavy reliance on Williams, who acknowledged Thursday night that, “I put the team on my shoulders,” in Arizona’s 73-71 victory escape against a feisty, yet average 7-7 California team, at McKale Center.
Williams scored a career-high 31 points (42.4 percent of the Wildcats’ scoring) behind a school-record 22 free-throw attempts (he made 16).
It was written in this space last week that Arizona is practically “Derrick Williams and the 12 Dwarfs” (the UA has 13 players under scholarship, including Williams). That’s taking it to the extreme, perhaps a bit unfair to the others.
After all, other prolific-scoring players in Arizona basketball history have carried more of a scoring load for their team, believe it or not. This is a fact despite Williams currently averaging 19.4 points a game, with the next highest teammate (Solomon Hill) at 8.3.
After Thursday night’s game, Williams accounts for 24.8 percent of his team’s scoring (the Wildcats average 78.2 points a game).
Just two years ago, Chase Budinger of “Three Amigos” fame with Jordan Hill and Nic Wise, accounted for 24.9 percent of the UA’s scoring. He averaged 18 of Arizona’s 72.3 points a game under interim coach Russ Pennell.
The year before that (2007-08), under interim coach Kevin O’Neill, freshman guard Jerryd Bayless averaged 19.7 points a game, which was 27.4 percent of Arizona’s 71.9 average. That ranks as the highest mark since the Lute Olson era started in 1983-84.