I spoke this morning with Corey Williams, the former Arizona Wildcat who also is the analyst for UA games on Fox Sports Arizona/KWBA.
I asked him which matchup in Friday’s Arizona-Memphis game in Tulsa he finds most intriguing.
“I’m very interested in seeing how they officiate the game,” Williams said.
“(Memphis coach) Josh (Pastner) is no fool. Josh will double-team Derrick Williams. When he starts his moves and spins, will they call the blocking fouls? If they let it go, Derrick sometimes struggles and the team struggles.
“If they are not giving him the fouls, then he’s going to have to kick it out of the double team.”
That means UA’s has to find a few hot hands among a deep group of guys who can bury the 3-pointer: Kyle Fogg, Jamelle Horne, Kevin Parrom, Jordin Mayes, MoMo Jones …
“If these guys knock down the outside shot, they will run Memphis off the floor. I really believe that.”
Williams is mostly a constant, an All-American player. Like always, he will be the focus of the opposing defense, and he’ll probably still get his points and rebounds. The Wildcats’ success has come because they have a deep pool of role players — and, odds are, at least a few will rise up in any given game.
I asked Corey Williams which one player needs to be the biggest among the role players.
“If I had to pick one guy who needs to elevate his game to give Arizona productivity and lift, it would be Jamelle Horne,” he said.
“He’s the guy with the experience — most of these kids have never played in the NCAAs before — and he has the physical skills to get 10, 11 rebounds, 10, 11 points. …
“Jesse Perry can give them toughness, but Jamelle definitely has the edge offensively. Jamelle has accepted his role — and there is nothing wrong with being a role player on a Pac-10 championship team; I was a role player on a Pac-10 championship team — but he has the ability to do more.
“It’s win or go home, so step up.”
Horne and junior Fogg were key players when Arizona went to the Sweet 16 two years ago. Junior guard Brandon Lavender got a touch of experience in the NCAAs that year. Other than that, this is the first rodeo for the rest of the Wildcats in the 10-man rotation.
“It is probably the most dangerous experience you can be in,” Williams said of playing in your first NCAA Tournament.
“When it’s your first time out, it happens so fast. If you blink, it will be over and you’ll be out of the tournament. I lost twice in the first round, and I don’t even remember those games. You need people to have been there before to hold you through.”
The danger, Williams said, is that panic can set in if you get behind in an NCAA Tournament game.
“If you give up an 8-0 run in a Pac-10 game it’s no big deal. You call timeout and regroup,” Williams said. “If you give up an 8-0 run in the NCAA Tournament, the clock is ticking on your season. It’s a whole different animal. …
“When you start losing, it’s like a nightmare you can’t wake up from. Next thing you know, you’re in the locker room, taking off your jersey, saying, ‘Did that just happen?’”
Williams said he likes Arizona’s chances against Memphis, but a long tournament run depends on rebounding and defense.
“They’re not a powerful team that goes 6-8, 6-9, 6-9 across the front line,” Williams said of the Wildcats, “but I think Arizona is a good rebounding team when they focus.
“If they can stay even on the boards, they have a chance to win against most everybody.”
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More Arizona basketball coverage from the TucsonCitizen.com Sports Network:
Javier Morales: Clouded perception of Pastner
Scott Terrell: This Week in the Pac-10: March Madness Edition
Christopher Wuensch: Bear Down and Blog: Arizona vs. Memphis, the Madness begins
Steve Rivera: Remembering Pastner — there’s a lot there