Nic Wise (right) and MoMo Jones celebrate after beating USC/Photo by WildcatSportsReport.com
OK, so let’s analyze Arizona in the Pac-10 tournament bracket. On second thought, let’s not.
Does it really matter?
Arizona plays UCLA on Thursday in the quarterfinals and faces a likely semifinal game with league champ Cal.
Good draw? Bad draw? Do you want to play a team you have defeated twice (like Arizona has done to UCLA)? Or would you have preferred to play a team that swept you in the regular season (like Oregon State).
Do you want see a zone defense or man-to-man?
Whatever. At this point, it’s all the same coin toss. Maybe you’d like to avoid the No. 1 seed before the championship game, but it’s not as if the Golden Bears have anybody in the Pac-10 shaking in the Nikes.
“It’s not about your opponent,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said.
“It’s about when you enter the court, are you really revved up to play, are you going to play with great effort, are you going to do the things that you worked on? Our defense will be much more about us winning than who we are playing? …
“There may be matchups that may be favorable, but a lot will depend on how that team is. Sometimes you catch a team at the right moment.”
Who knows? In this season’s Pac-10, logic left the building a long time ago.
I’m not sure the other half of the bracket is any bargain. Washington has won four in a row overall and four in a row away from home after starting the season 0-6 on the road. Arizona State has won six of seven.
Unlike Cal (probably), both of those teams are in desperation mode, needing to add to their resume — or maybe just win the whole tournament — in order to the get the NCAAs.
“I can’t imagine a better setup for a conference tournament than the Pac-10,” Miller said. “There is going to be so much at stake. You are going to have a number of players and teams playing for the lives.”
FOUR COACHES IN FOUR YEARS, PART II
Much has been made about Arizona senior Nic Wise having four head coaches in four seasons. You know who might be the next player to have that dubious honor?
Ex-Wildcat Zane Johnson.
He was a freshman under Kevin O’Neill and played for Russ Pennell as a sophomore before transferring to Hawaii after last season. He redshirted this season for coach Bob Nash.
But the Warriors went 10-20 in Nash’s third season, finishing last in the nine-team WAC and missing out on the league tournament. Nash’s fate could be decided this week — he has one year left on his contract — and if Hawaii makes a change that will be four coaches in four years for Johnson.
Johnson, a shooting guard sitting out because of transfer rules, wasn’t able to do much with the team this season after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a patellar tendon.
ANOTHER REASON TO LIKE NIC WISE
There was a nice moment at the end of the Arizona-USC game that you probably saw on the telecast. Wise and freshman guard MoMo Jones embraced at mid-court for several seconds and you could tell they were talking in each other’s ear.
What were they saying?
“I was basically telling him that it is his turn now. I was handing over the keys to him,” Wise said.
“He’s the point guard of the future here. And he was telling me that he loves me for everything that I have done for him this year and vice-versa. We have a great relationship.”
Don’t give up those keys just yet, Nic. There’s still some driving to do.
JUST LIKE HIS PREDECESSORS …
My favorite moment of Arizona’s postgame press conference on Saturday? Arizona Daily Star beat writer Bruce Pascoe basically asked Miller what was the difference in junior forward Jamelle Horne, who had seven points and eight boards against UCLA and then 16 points and eight rebounds vs. USC.
Horne had been slumping for several weeks.
Miller’s answer, with a chuckle: “I’m not sure.”
Miller is now the third UA head coach who hasn’t quite been sure what to expect from Horne.
“I will say we’re going to stay with him and hope that he is really ready,” Miller said.
HERE’S A BIG MAN WHO COULD HAVE HELPED
It’s been hard to keep track of the comings and goings of Arizona recruits in the past few years, but here’s one that got away that Miller would have liked to have inherited: Greg Smith.
The center committed to Arizona for about a month in the summer of 2008 before deciding to stay closer to home and attend Fresno State. On Sunday, he was selected the WAC Freshman of the Year in a league that doesn’t often get such highly talented big men out of high school.
Smith averaged 11.8 points and 6.0 rebounds in the regular season, and while the WAC isn’t overflowing with quality big men, neither is the Pac-10, so maybe his numbers would have translated fairly well this season.
Miller said freshman forward Kevin Parrom, who has missed four games with a foot injury, could be ready for Arizona’s first game in the Pac-10 tournament. … In the 13 years of the Pac-10 tournament, including the initial stint from 1987 to 1990, only three teams have not been the No. 1 seed. They are Washington State, Arizona State and USC. … Arizona has played 14 games decided by six points or less. The Wildcats are 7-7 in those games. You win some, you lose some.
More coverage from the TucsonCitizen.com Sports Network:
WildAboutAZCats.com: UA swept by last-place team for first time in Pac-10 history
UASports.net: Streak or die
Derrick Williams selected Sporting News Freshman All-American