It’s beginning to look a lot like Xavier around Arizona (and other hoop thoughts)by Anthony Gimino on Jan. 29, 2010, under Sports
Arizona is beginning to look more and more like Sean Miller‘s Xavier teams.
There is the defense. None of Miller’s five Xavier teams allowed teams to shoot better than 43.3 percent in a season. Arizona is at 43.0 percent this season.
There is the rebounding. Arizona is basically breaking even on the boards for the season, but is at plus-5 per game through eight conference contests. That’s more like it. Miller’s Xavier teams out-rebounded their opponents by more than four per game over five seasons.
There is the toughness, which the Wildcats showed in last weekend’s victory at Arizona State, exemplified best by freshman forward Kevin Parrom … or, as Javier Morales of our sports partner WildAboutAZCats.com calls him, “Scare ‘Em Parrom.”
And, ultimately, there is the winning.
Arizona has won three games in a row for the first time this season, emerging from a Pac-10 free-for-all to be alone in second place after Thursday night’s 76-68 victory over Stanford.
The Cats won despite a rec-game shooting performance, hitting 21 of 64 for 32.8 percent. It’s not like UA was jacking up poor shots; the shots — even a couple of dunk attempts — just weren’t falling.
That’s going to happen from time to time, but hustle and defense and rebounding should never go into a slump. And that’s why Arizona won. The Wildcats had 19 offensive rebounds leading to 20 second-chance points, and they had nine steals that contributed to Stanford’s 18 turnovers.
“If you’re a good defensive team and a good rebounding team, you have a chance to do it,” Miller said of winning when shooting such a low percentage. “The odds are against you. … But we’re making progress on defense and it really helped us tonight.”
He said it
“That’s just effort. They came at us hard in that aspect of the game. I hate to say it, but they wanted it more than we did.” — Stanford forward Landry Fields, on Arizona’s 19 offensive rebounds.
More-than-fair foul shooters
Derrick Williams, Kyle Fogg and Nic Wise have combined to take nearly 80 percent of Arizona’s free throws in Pac-10 play, which helps explain why Arizona is making nearly 80 percent of its attempts in Pac-10 play.
Or something like that.
In any case, if you had to send three guys to line, those would be the three. In Pac-10 games:
–Wise is hitting 84.9 percent (45 of 53).
–Fogg is making 82.6 percent (38 of 46).
–Williams is hitting 81.3 percent (52 of 64).
That’s just more of the same for Wise. Fogg’s increased attempts come from a recent epiphany — Hey, I can dribble the ball into the lane! Williams’ free throw shooting — shaky earlier in the season — helps explain why he has scored at least 20 points in four consecutive games.
Overall, Arizona is hitting 79.5 percent of its free throws in Pac-10 play, way ahead of second-place Arizona State (74.7 percent) in that category. UCLA is last at 61.7 percent.
He said it, Part II
“I can’t imagine nationally there are many forwards better than him. I don’t think he gets nearly the respect he deserves.” — Arizona coach Sean Miller, on Stanford’s Landry Fields, who scored 31 points.
Look … over there in the corner … it’s B-Lav
Arizona had a cold shooting night against Stanford but it did heat up for a couple of key runs, including a stretch late in the first half when it took the lead for good.
The Wildcats got 12 points out of four consecutive possessions — beginning with a 3-pointer by Jamelle Horne and ending with a traditional three-point play from Williams. In between, were two 3-pointers from Brendon Lavender.
Miller keeps saying that Lavender has been the team’s best 3-point shooter in practice, but you couldn’t tell from games, as the sophomore guard was 10 of 40 from behind the arc heading into Thursday night’s game. Lavender has been making his coach look like a liar for most of 20 games.
“Sometimes you hit a couple in a game and it really takes the pressure off of you,” Miller said. “It was great to see him make a couple. He helped us by doing that.”
What has helped Arizona was the addition of Parrom to the rotation 10 games ago. His emergence after a stress fracture injury has helped Miller more clearly define roles.
That has meant a significant reduction in minutes for Lavender. He averaged 25.6 minutes in non-conference games, but is playing just 10.8 minutes through eight Pac-10 games.
That is more in fitting with his ability … and if he can start hitting shots, then those can be 10 or 11 really good minutes for the Wildcats.
Battle for first place
Arizona will move into a tie for first place in the Pac-10 on Sunday if it knocks off Cal, which is 6-2 in the league after beating Arizona State on Thursday.
The Bears won in Tucson last season for the first time since 1995, getting a huge game out of point guard Jerome Randle, who scored 31 points and hit 8 of 11 3-point shots. He came out of a shooting slump Thursday by scoring 25 points against the Sun Devils.
“You just have to try your best to slow him down,” Fogg said. “He’s one of the quickest players in the country and he can shoot from anywhere, so it’s tough to guard him.”