Arizona senior Mark Lyons can play the position, but he is not a pure point guard. Arizona coach Sean Miller, who was a pure point guard while at Pitt, banked on Lyons to run that spot for the Wildcats after Lyons played the off-guard position for three years at Xavier.
A pure point guard plays with an unselfish style, sets up teammates for scoring opportunities, distributes the ball while penetrating and keeps the defense honest with scoring opportunities off the dribble either driving to the hoop or drawing fouls. Lyons flickers from time to time, handling that role, but to be successful at that position it must be a constant flame.
Steve Kerr, one of the best point guards the Arizona program has produced, hired former NBA point guard Terry Porter to coach Phoenix when Kerr was the Suns’ general manager. Porter, now a Minnesota Timberwolves assistant, gave the Minneapolis Star-Tribune this definition for a point guard:
“You have to be a leader,” said Porter, a two-time NBA All-Star. “You can’t worry about yourself. You’ve got to have a pretty good feel for your personnel. Then, you have to be vocal at times. You’ve got to be willing to take some grief. I got yelled at by guys on my team for not passing it to them and things of that nature. You just have to say, ‘Hey, I didn’t want it to be a turnover.’ That falls on your shoulders because if you make a turnover, coach is yelling at you. He’s not yelling at the other player.
“You have to know everybody’s position. You also have to know everybody’s weaknesses and strengths because you’re delivering the ball to them. The point guard is setting everybody up. He’s got time and score and tempo, how the matchups are, who he wants to try and attack. There’s a lot on his shoulders in terms of how the game is being played.”
Not only has Lyons been a work in progress at point guard this season, he is Miller’s fourth starting point guard, after Nic Wise, Lamont “MoMo” Jones and Josiah Turner, in the coach’s four years at Arizona.
The Wildcats’ previous four starting point guards before Miller’s hire in 2009 — Jason Terry, Jason Gardner, Mustafa Shakur and Wise — spanned a total of 12 years.
Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell will likely be Miller’s fifth starting point guard in five years next season.