PAC-10 Basketball

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Mauii Invitational Reduces Learning Curve

Posted by naterb on November 26, 2009

 Considering the match-ups, it is no surprise that the Wildcats went 1-2 in their stay in Mauii. But it wasn’t just run-of-the-mill basketball for the young squad. Arizona faced their toughest competition to date in Wisconsin and Vanderbilt, and managed to remain close to have a shot at the end.

Jamelle Horne has taken his Superman impression to new heights. Fortunately for the 'Cats he is no longer doing it parallel with the ground. Photo by: Eugene Tanner/The Associate Press

Jamelle Horne has taken his "Superman" impression to new heights - fortunately it is no longer parallel with the ground. Photo by Associate Press

In the end, the Wildcats were out-scored in the final five minutes of each game as a direct result in their inexperience. Part of that inexperience is fatigue, poor decision making down the stretch, but most importantly the inconsistency on the offensive end. Make a change in any number of those, especially the offensive continuity and the results could have been different.

That’s not to make excuses. After all, a young team in an early season match-up against more experienced of equal or better talent is a recipe for losses such as these. What’s important at this stage in the season is that the ‘Cats learn from their mistakes, play better defense, become more comfortable with one another offensively, and continue to move forward.

To start, the Wildcats learned that they can not rely on Nic Wise to be the main offensive threat. In the two toughest games of the year Wise has tallied 13 and 9 points. While that is good, it isn’t going to be enough to beacon the ‘Cats past the tougher competition to come.

Next off the ‘Cats while playing with no reservations defensively, must still do so intelligently. While the intensity has been present, the ‘Cats continue to struggle with help defense and reaching. The Wildcats have already out-fouled opponents 112-102 on the season. Not something that has been customary in Tucson in recent years. More specifically, in each of their losses the Wildcats have out-fouled their opponents: 25-14 against Vanderbilt, and 30-24 against Wisconsin.

But for all the things lacking for the Wildcats, the games results have been more positive than negative. The fouls and intelligent play will develop with time – and hopefully, most are past their Superman impression days long before Jamelle Horne was – as will the continuity and consistency of the offense. As that happens, players will settle into their roles and a starting lineup.

Two of the biggest players that will likely develop are Derrick Williams and Solmon Hill. Williams and Hill led the ‘Cats in scoring in each of their two losses, have made it evident they know how to fill their roles, get to the line, and put up decent numbers.

In all, despite being 3-2 with losses to the only quality teams they’ve played, the ‘Cats have remained competitive and shown growth in each of the games. So while they aren’t a NCAA Tournament calibur team yet, they will progress throughout the season, take advantage of a weakened PAC-10 and earn themselves a Tournament bid.


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