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Ducks drop one to St. Marys

Posted by duckbill30 on December 16, 2009

It was good for the Ducks to get back home after their dismal performance in Missouri. It didn’t start out well against St Marys, but after falling behind, the Ducks pulled it together and should have ended up with the win.

The Gaels are talented & experienced. The Ducks match up with them in the former, but the discrepancy in the latter, signaled the defeat. Even with the two most experienced players out with injuries, the Ducks got a lot of players in the game. Armstead, Longmire, Crittle & Williams in particular, had moments of very good play. But, the constant substituting worked against developing any cohesion. The Ducks have four more home games before conference play begins; hopefully that time will be spent on setting a rotation.

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Arizona v Western New Mexico (ex)

Posted by naterb on November 11, 2009

As I mentioned yesterday, I was interested in the WNMU at Arizona game. I didn’t think the Mustangs had much of a chance, but I enjoyed the ties and storylines the game had for me.

Arizona walked away with a 96-55 win that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Without seeing the game, you can only glean so much information from the stat box and the recap by the Star. Most importantly, and intriguingly is that Fogg, being healthy still sat behind Lavender. Read the rest of this entry »

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Arizona: Week Five Recap

Posted by naterb on January 31, 2009

Kyle Fogg has stepped up big-time the last three game. Could he become the difference breaker between NCAA & NIT?

Kyle Fogg has stepped up big-time the last three games. Could he become the difference breaker between NCAA & NIT?

Arizona’s sweep over the Washington schools this week is definitely something to get excited about. And it’s not just because it was their first PAC-10 series sweep of the season outside of Oregon/Oregon State either. It’s much bigger than that. It’s that they beat two completely different teams in decisive manners and with an array of different weapons.

 

 In Thursday’s game against Washington, they beat the Huskies at their own game. They were aggressive, attacked the rim, used the baseline well, and found themselves the beneficiary of a barrage of free throws. An impressive win when you consider that UCLA and CAL have been the only conference teams to date to do that to the Huskies.

 

In their weekend match-up against the Bennett Ball Cougars, they were able to force their tempo in the second half, and apply dizzying pressure along the perimeter. The first half was rather unnerving as the ‘Cats failed to force the tempo, but a huge second half run en route to 43 second half points showed what the ‘Cats are capable of when they are focused and determined.

 

There have been some phenomenal changes in mindset amongst certain players. Budinger’s approach to his first half mini-slump against WSU was excellent. He didn’t once check out of the game mentally and found was to get his teammates involved before going nuts in the second half and finding his stroke again.

 

Nic Wise proved that he is king of the 72” or less club as he tore apart Isaiah Thomas, Justin Dentmon, and Venoy Overton to the tune of 29 points and 8 assists. A huge outburst by Wise is not a shocker, but to become the level of offensive threat he was is just plain scary.

 

Jordan Hill continues to impress, as Arizona fans have come to expect, with his “typical,” yet amazing performances tallying 16 points with 16 rebounds, and 18 points with 9 rebounds. That is the type of performance Arizona fans have become accustomed to with Jordan Hill. But not typically when the Wildcats have four players scoring double digits. The coexistence of the two show that Arizona is playing extremely well together and have found a rhythm that includes an inside-outside game on every possession, rather than from one possession to another.

The biggest development for the Wildcats, however, has to be the unbelievable play by Kyle Fogg. Fogg is averaging just under 15 points per game over the last three for one major reason – he isn’t hesitating to take open looks. After the close losses to USC and ASU where he was essentially dared to shoot, it seems as though Fogg is taking it personally. He’s taking open looks when he gets them, and is being more aggressive on both ends of the floor. His performance means that the Wildcats will no longer suffer when one of the “Big Three” is having an off night.

 

Despite these great performances, the Wildcats still have little room for error right now. These were games that they needed to win, and by doing so they have only stayed the guillotine for a short while longer. The Wildcats needs to continue to build on their performance and have a great opportunity to do so when they face the Oregon schools next week. They have a tough road ahead, but a sweep of the Washington schools has provided a sign of life as well as a ray of hope. Bear Down Arizona!

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Die-Hards Rewarded

Posted by naterb on January 25, 2009

Budinger - You wont like me when Im angry.

Budinger - "You won't like me when I'm angry."

Die hard Arizona fans were given the biggest reward of the season and perhaps the past three years as they witnessed the ‘Cats overcome a 9 point deficit with 54 seconds remaining to force overtime en route to a 96-90 overtime win on Saturday. After dropping three-straight the Wildcats showed more heart and determination than they’ve displayed perhaps all season long. Plagued by turnover woes all season long, the Wildcats have suffered 8 losses a direct result from them Saturday against Houston was no difference as the Wildcats had nearly three-times as many (24-9) as the Cougars, but were able to force four Houston turnovers in the final nine minutes which left the door open for the come-back win.

The Wildcats have seen several bad calls go against them the past few games and have been incapable of overcoming them. This time, however, that was not the case. Aubrey Coleman literally bowled over Chase Budinger with 9:51 remaining and then proceeded to maliciously step on his head. The McKale crowd grew restless and angry chanting “Throw him out! Throw him out!” while the officials reviewed the play before granting the crowd’s wish – and deservingly so. That decision was perhaps the turning point of the game for the ‘Cats as Coleman had dissected the ‘Cats perimeter defense and Houston wasn’t the same without him on the floor. The door was left open by late missed free throws and turnovers on the Cougars behalf, and for the first time all season it was the Wildcats taking advantage of late-game mistakes rather than being victimized by them.

Read the rest of this entry »

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There Are NO Goats Here

Posted by naterb on January 17, 2009

 

Don't make him your scape goat.
Don’t make him your scape goat.

Despite USC constantly chipping away at Arizona’s lead, the Wildcats looked as if they were headed for their first road win of the season – until Nic Wise was called for an intentional foul away from the ball with 3:50 left on the clock. From that moment on 7 of USC’s final 11 points came from the free throw line – including the game winner with 1.2 seconds remaining. It would be easy to find a scape goat to pin another one-point loss onto, but in reality that’s ridiculous.

Yes, the officiating was terrible with blown calls left and right, the worst of which the intentional foul on Wise, but Arizona still controlled the game despite the officiating. Sure, Jordan Hill missed a late-game free throw, but he never should’ve received the inbounds pass, and Budinger shouldn’t have been in-bounding the ball. Nic Wise definitely shouldn’t have thrown the ball away on the Wildcats final possession, but he shouldn’t have even had the ball in that situation. Not a single one of these things should have happened, but they did. That’s just the misfortune the ‘Cats have had on the road this year.

This was the best performance on the road the ‘Cats have had all season long. They controlled most of the game and held the lead for almost all of it. I commend the ‘Cats for that, but it all came unraveled in the final 3:50 putting the ‘Cats in a position they never ought to have been in. So blame Budinger, Hill, Wise, Horne, Johnson, Fogg, the officials and everyone else if you want, but to pin it on one play or one player is bogus.

The Wildcats did a nice job making adjustments throughout the game. When Budinger was face guarded, they ran him off staggered double-screens to get him open looks. When Jordan Hill picked up his second foul with 9 minutes remaining in the first half, the ‘Cats continued to fight by scoring 19 more points before halftime. After giving up 11 first-half offensive rebounds, they cranked down and only allowed four more in the second half. I was very impressed by the overall effort of the Wildcats tonight, but it’s the worst way for a great game to end – with a one-point loss.

The Good:

Chase Budinger – Budinger was aggressive tonight, and the ‘Cats looked to get him the ball for most of the night. While facing an intense defense designed with him as the focal point Budinger came up big for the ‘Cats with 19 points on 60% shooting. A game like that against the nations 5th best defense is what reminds us that despite his slumps, he has the talent to become a solid player in the NBA.

Jamelle Horne: Horne was a major contributor and a big reason why Arizona had a shot at pulling off their first road win tonight. I’m sure you’re probably mad that I didn’t put him down in the “Ugly” section because of his last second foul that led to the game-winning free throw by Hackett. To judge Horne’s performance based on a ticky-tack foul is an injustice to what he did. Horne is a major reason why USC only got 4 offensive rebounds in the second half. He was aggressive going after the ball even leapt higher than Taj Gibson for rebounds on consecutive plays. Horne did exactly what we needed him to, scored (8 points), was active defensively (2 steals), and was crashing the boards (7 rebounds). One mistake doesn’t change the fact that he was a major contributor and a big reason why Arizona was in a position to win this game.

The Bad:

Simple Mistakes: I’ve already listed them above. Budinger in-bounding the ball, Hill missing a crunch-time free throw, Wise turning the ball over, as well as a shot clock violation. These were signs that this team is struggling and has youth and an interim coach at the helm. They are all easily correctable. Not one of these plays single-handedly lost the game for the ‘Cats (nor did Horne’s foul) – but a culmination of them and the refs was enough to shoot the Wildcats in the paw.

The Ugly:

Many fans’ reaction to Jamelle Horne following his late-game foul. He was in a good defensive position, staying in front of Hackett, and was called for a tacky foul. Yes, it was heart-breaking. But if I’m Horne, I’m not embarrassed or upset with myself for that play. He was where he was supposed to be, doing what he was supposed to do and got called for a cheap foul when the ref should’ve swallowed his whistle. Horne wasn’t chasing Hackett down and going Superman-style on him. He didn’t clobber him, and he didn’t foul him in the act of shooting. He was playing defense!

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Bruins De-"Claw" Cats

Posted by naterb on January 16, 2009

 

 

 

 

Arizona’s make-shift 1-3-1 “Claw” defense was methodically ripped to shreds in an 83-60 mauling at the hands of the UCLA Bruins at Pauley Pavilion. This isn’t the first time that the Wildcats have seen their Dunlap brainstorm defense look this bad – Cal did it, Stanford did it, and most dramatically so did UNLV. The ‘Claw’ is designed to pressure opponents front court into making what Oregon Coach Ernie Kent deemed as ‘basketball plays’ but not necessarily to trap or create turnovers. After a player is able to make a tough play (splitting a double-team, reversing the ball, finding the open skip pass, etc.) their teammates are able to find easy looks from beyond the arc or in the middle of the court right around the free throw line..

 

 

That major flaw in the zone was exploited at will by the Bruins who shot nearly 60% from the field, and had 9 of their 28 buckets come from right in the center of that gap. When the Bruins weren’t passing into the heart of the defensive gap, they were using dribble penetration to slip past Arizona’s perimeter players just about any time they looked to. If and when the defense collapsed, UCLA did a great job of kicking the ball out for 17 open looks beyond the arc. The ‘Cats have proven they can make this work, but have yet to do so against a good three-point shooting team, and UCLA made the defensive problems so glaring that Pennell and Co. may need to go back to the drawing board midway through the season.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the court the Bruins did just enough to disrupt the Wildcats and force them into the occasional turnover. UCLA’s defense wasn’t as stifling as it has been against the ‘Cats in previous years, but it was still enough to disrupt the Wildcats offensive flow and put them into a few two-minute scoring droughts over the course of the game. The Wildcats were able to limit their turnovers, as they had 9 before Garland Judkins’ 2 turnovers with under 4 minutes remaining. Unfortunately those 9 turnovers led to the Wildcats being significantly outscored in fast-break opportunities again – a common theme in each of the last six losses.

 

The Wildcats problems continued against UCLA when Nic Wise was limited to a paltry five on points on 1-for-8 shooting, and appears to be going head-long into a slump of his own. Wise, who is now 2-17 in the last two games, has been providing a significant portion of Arizona’s offense this season, was did have an impact on the game with 5 assists as several times he penetrated and dished off to the open man. I was very pleased with how Wise kept his head in the game and continued to find ways to help his team even if his shots weren’t falling. Occasionally, however, the Wildcats need Wise to become a scorer and not just a playmaker, particularly when Jordan Hill is on the bench due to foul trouble.

 

Wise wasn’t the real problem offensively tonight, that comes down on Arizona’s “hustle” guys – Jamelle Horne and Kyle Fogg. I’m not bashin’ on the kids here, but they have both seen better games. Horne and Fogg thrive on picking up loose rebounds, coming up with the occasional steal, and doing all the intangibles that make every team “stick.” The ‘Cats two hustle guys came up with 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 steal. If you take away the final two minutes they only combined for 3 points before the UCLA bench was cleared. Big stats aren’t typically something you expect out of the hustle guys, but unfortunately with this roster against a team like UCLA, it is a must-have if they want to win.

So it’s not that the Wildcats had a horrendous night, but they clearly aren’t hitting on all cylinders right now. Perhaps that illusive first road-win won’t come until the ‘Cats travel to Washington or Oregon later this season. Perhaps they just can’t win on the road – period. Maybe it’s just that they’re unlucky when it comes to road games at the toughest venues the PAC-10 has to offer? Whatever the case may be, one thing is apparent: The ‘Cats still need a lot of work when other teams are fine-tuning and that spells trouble.

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

With 54% shooting adding up to 14 points, it is safe to say that Budinger is out of his slump.

Jordan Hill was a monster inside the paint yet again. But once again the ‘Cats failed to look for him within 8 feet of the basket with any regularity. Hill handled the double and triple teams the Bruins threw at him quite well on the night though.

I can’t complain about the officiating. Sure there were a few bad calls and a few blown ones. That’s basketball, and PAC-10 basketball at that.

I really like what I’m seeing out of Zane Johnson the last several games. He’s been putting in extra time in the gym working on his jumper and it’s paying off. He could be rewarded with a starting job in the near future.

While UCLA’s defense was solid, it wasn’t as impressive as it has been in previous years. The Wildcats found themselves with quite a few open looks but for whatever reason just couldn’t knock ‘em down.

Another problem I have with Arizona’s defensive effort is the growing trend of long offensive rebounds. UCLA exploited every second chance opportunity that they had and turned them into points. Every single one of them.

Garland Judkins was back at practice this week, and back in the game tonight but is clearly on a short leash. I’d be amazed if he doesn’t transfer at the end of the season – if he’s still on the team then.

UCLA’s ShotChart:

 

ucla-shotchart

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Post-Game: OSU @ UA

Posted by naterb on January 11, 2009

Highlight Video

The Good:

  • Chase Budinger gets his second 20+ point game this week, and has signs that his confidence is returning along with his 3-point shot.
  • The Wildcats nearly out-rebounded themselves offensively (16)versus defensively (17). I love to see that because it means the ‘Cats aren’t giving up when they’re having an off-shooting night. They’re playing hard on each possession, and exploiting their athleticism and height.
  • Coming off the bench, Zane Johnson provided a big boost for the ‘Cats in his second consecutive game. Against the Oregon schools Johnson averaged 8 points, 2.5 assists, and 4 rebounds in 21 minutes. As the season wears on, and the starters get worn out, the ‘Cats will need their bench to keep stepping up and Johnson’s performance is showing vast improvement and usefulness.
  • Putting up 64 points in a game that was essentially cut by 25% thanks to the slow-down Beavers’ offense. The ‘Cats could’ve controlled the tempo a lot more, but they didn’t need to. I believe they could’ve scored more, but to score only 10% less than your average when your opportunities are limited by a slowed-down game, I’ll take it.

The Bad:

  • Kyle Fogg continues to falter during the games. He continually passes up open looks at the basket, and we’ve seen an increase in the mental lapses which reveal him for the freshman that he is. At this rate, despite being one of the better defenders on the team, he’s going to find himself coming off the bench before another week is out.
  • Jamelle Horne was enough to make you pace because of his offensive decisions tonight. Horne took a lot of ill-advised shots tonight, and his 3-9 performance reflects it perfectly. Horne avoids the “ugly” section thanks to his hustle on the glass. Horned had 4 offensive rebounds and 3 defensive to go along with several other plays that forced dead-ball rebounds for Arizona. His efforts gave Arizona second and sometimes third opportunities, and essentially made up for his poor shot selection tonight.

The Ugly:

  • Nic Wise found it hard to score tonight, hitting only one shot in nine attempts. Largely because he lacked a lot of aggressiveness on the offensive end and was settling for jump shots all night long. I’m glad Wise was making an effort not to over-penetrate, but this isn’t what the ‘Cats need either. Wise needs to find that middle ground between over-aggressive and settling for the jumper.
  • The entire second half – Failed to score in the first five minutes. Shot 2-14 in the first 11 minutes of the second half. Shot 8-26 in the entire second half. Gave up 12 points in the paint to the Beavers… I think you get the point. Whether it’s lack of focus or exhaustion does make a difference, but that was still awful.

Jordan Hill

Jordan Hill

Player of the Game:

Jordan Hill – Yes, I know Budinger had more points and was everywhere tonight. But Hill carried the team as his 8 offensive rebounds helped direct the team to 17 second-chance points. His efforts kept the possessions alive and in turn the lead over the Beavers.

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Cop-Out Coach

Posted by naterb on January 11, 2009

 

Oregon State Coach Craig Robinson is tossed with a little over two minutes remaining in an eight-point game. With a game that close, I can’t help but ask myself, “Why on earth did he do that? What was he thinking?!” The Beavers were out-shooting the Wildcats on the night. In fact, the Wildcats were so bad during the second half that during the final 6 minutes of the game they had more points from the free throw line (eight) than from the field (six). So with the Beavers down 8, controlling the tempo of the game, and the Wildcats having a horrible half shooting, why did Robinson get himelf thrown out of the game by complaining about a loose-ball foul? 

What set me off?” said Robinson, repeating a post-game question.

“When my two guys fell down and there was no call, that’s what set me off. … and I think the fouls were 15-4 (OSU had 15) when I left.

“That was the point at which I wanted our guys to know that I wasn’t allowing them to get pushed around any longer. I wanted to sort of stand up for them.”

Okay Coach, I can respect that, especially since the Wildcats had 5 fouls on the night compared to the Beavers’ 16. But it just doesn’t sit right with me. Why? Because when a team has 16 team fouls it means that they aren’t moving their feet, establishing position, and tend to be reaching. In short, they aren’t hustling and are getting beat to loose balls, rebounds, and facing a team that is playing hard.

My suspicion was further confirmed when I read what Daniel Deane had to say about the technicals.

“They (the refs) didn’t call anything, so it wasn’t a push,” he said. “We were playing hard. They were playing hard. It was an intense game. Emotions were flying around. … me and (Johnson) both went hard for the rebound, and a couple of their players went hard, too. That’s about it.”

Bottom line, Robinson’s actions got him kicked out of a close game, and cost the Beavers any chance they had left. Sometimes a coach finding themselves watching the rest of the game from the locker room can ignite a team. If that was his intent, it backfired. The Beavers would not score again after Robinson’s ejection. Next time coach, instead of getting on the refs, try getting on your players a little more about moving their feet and boxing out instead.

All Quotes taken from: Oregon Live - Coach Rob pulls a Rasheed 

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Oregon's Inexperience Leads to Cats Win

Posted by naterb on January 9, 2009

 

 

Budinger dunks over Michael Dunigan

Budinger dunks over Michael Dunigan

Michael Dunigan turning his back on Chase Budinger during a first-half in-bound play is the epitome of what is wrong with the Ducks this season. The Ducks aren’t a bad team with players who have no business competing in the PAC-10. By-and-large, however, they are a team filled with young players who have been thrust into key roles too early in their college careers. The Wildcats exploited this and despite their less-than-stellar performance rode it on their way to a 67-52 route of the Ducks at McKale Center.

The Good:

Russ Pennell and the Wildcats did a nice job of getting Chase Budinger good looks at the basket by having him along the baseline and making strong cuts towards the basket. The result was several dunks, lay-ups, and short-ranged jumpers. Budinger was also found in transition on numerous occasions. I’m not ready to declare Budinger out of his slump as of yet, especially in light of his 1-5 shooting from beyond the arc, but the quality looks he got against the Ducks is a great way to help him find his rhythm again. The mental lapses by Budinger, as well as the over-flow mentality onto the rest of the team seems to have dissipated as the ‘Cats regained some of that swagger and confidence back throughout the game.

The biggest indicator of the teams reaction to Budinger starting to come out of his slump is Jamelle Horne. Following one of his worst performance of the year (2 points, 5 fouls, 19 minutes), Horne returned to progressing as an offensive weapon and impact player with 15 points and 4 rebounds while playing 36 minutes. I believe the reason for this is because Horne was playing within himself and making good decisions rather than trying to do too much to compensate for Budinger’s slump.

A few other things I was impressed with was Arizona’s ability to counter the tempo and defensive changes that Ernie Kent and the Ducks threw at the ‘Cats. There were a few lapses and mistakes caused by these changes, but on the whole the Wildcats did a nice job of transitioning from one look to another. I was also impressed with Zane Johnson’s first-half performance off the bench. Johnson, who has seen inconsistent minutes for the ‘Cats, came in and grabbed 2 rebounds while posting 7 points over a stretch when the ‘Cats had begun to stagnate. With some more experience and progression I can see Johnson turning into a great role player like Michael Roll for UCLA.

The Bad:

Jordan Hill did not record a double-double since December 14th against Gonzaga. Considering the defensive efforts of the Ducks and Michael Dunigan, I can’t blame Hill on this. Hill still had a solid game with 9 points and 12 rebounds, but expect more defensive focus on Jordan Hill for the rest of the season. The reason Hill’s failure to reach a double-double lands in the “Bad” category has nothing to do with the effort he made – after all he didn’t hurt the team by finding himself in foul trouble or missing open looks. The problem I have is that when teams focus on Hill defensively, the Cats need to run some set plays to get Hill the ball deep in the paint where even the best center in the nation can’t stop him.

Kyle Fogg’s performance, however, is a result of his own doing. Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not down on the kid, he had an off game which is to be expected from a freshman responsible for a big role. Fogg had several mental lapses leading to turnovers or fouls and failed to become an offensive threat against the Ducks.

The Ugly:

Nic Wise tops the charts of the ugly factor. The Wildcats were less than stellar in protecting the ball, and Wise was the core reason for this. Wise had 7 of Arizona’s 17 turnovers, and many of them were due to over-penetration and offensive fouls. Wise was also caught off guard by in-prompt-to traps across half court by the Ducks. As a veteran point guard, Wise needs to be prepared for these types of traps and be ready to hit the open man as he sees the trap coming at him. With such a sloppy performance by Wise, Arizona was fortunate that they weren’t facing a team clicking on all cylinders.

In conjunction with Wise’s 7 turnovers, the Wildcats committed 17 team turnovers. The Wildcats were fortunate that the Ducks weren’t able to capitalize on the turnovers the way that CAL or Stanford did. But the turnover situation has to be a major concern for the coaching staff. Since the Kansas game the Wildcats have seen their turnover rate rising as they’ve averaged 15.25 turnovers a game and have committed more turnovers than their opponent in the previous 3 games.

Back to the Ducks:

I was very impressed with the talent and glimpses of what the future holds for the Ducks. There were several points where the Ducks upped the defensive pressure resulting in nine steals and a few second-half mini-runs. A big concern for the Ducks has to be Tejuan Porter. Porter needs to be the leader on this team since Catron is completely unproven, but Porter is extremely inconsistent from game-to-game. With Porter being a focal point for the Ducks offense, they will see erratic scoring and inconsistent play from the entire team until he plays with consistency or another player steps up as the leader.

Despite foul trouble thanks to freshmen inexperience, Dunigan has the looks of a future stud for the Ducks. Ernie Kent would be wise to recruit complimentary players to Dunigan’s game as he will be one of the leading centers in the PAC-10 after the departures of Jordan Hill and Jon Brockman.

Game Highlights Video (Including the inbound play where Dunigan turns his back on Budinger)

Posted in Arizona Wildcats, Game Recap, NCAA Basketball, PAC-10 Basketball, Sports: General | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Game Recap: Arizona @ Stanford

Posted by naterb on January 5, 2009

Just a quick side note before I recap the Arizona/Stanford game:

One thing about me that you will learn, is that I always want to focus on the positive things surrounding the Wildcats. My main reason for doing this is because these kids on the floor are not paid professionals, and a majority of them will never make it to the professional level. Sure they’re being compensated by the University to play by getting their tuitions paid for in return of putting on that uniform. I know that there are a lot of fans and media members that don’t view it this way, but I do. Call it the silver-lining mentality or being an optimist if you like, but the bottom line is that there is almost always something positive to right about.

My tendency to focus on the positives in a game is really being challenged with the recap of this game. I owe it to you as a reader who is taking your time to get my opinion, and learn what transpired during the Wildcats’ game against Stanford. So I’ll try and focus on the good things as much as I can but it won’t be easy because this game was filled with a lot of bad performances.

-NaterB

Yeah, thats about right.

Yeah, that's about right.

The Wildcat’s 16-point loss to Stanford was the worst loss at Maples since February 7, 1983, a season before Olson arrived in Tucson and the ‘Cats went 1-17 in conference play. This is also the first time that the Wildcats have started the conference 0-2 since the ‘04-‘05 season when they opened with losses to ASU and CAL. The margin of defeat, while disappointing, isn’t nearly as discouraging as the performance by the Wildcats as a whole. Sure, Chase Budinger found himself with double-digits again, and the ‘Cats shot 48% while Stanford had 44%, and Jordan Hill and Nic Wise seemed to be able to score almost at will. So why was the performance so disappointing?

The ‘Cats never really showed up tonight, and failed to find any sort of rhythm all night long. They found early in the first half that they could score almost at will inside the paint as their first 10 points came from dunks, lay-ups, or short jumpers. Jordan Hill exploited the under-manned Stanford frontcourt to the tune of 13 points and 7 rebounds in the first half. Unfortunately, after the first half the ‘Cats stopped looking inside with Jordan Hill only getting four touches for four points in the second half. I’m not understanding how a team with a significant and distinct advantage would not use it, it simply boggles my mind.

Another missed opportunity was Nic Wise’s ability to get past any Stanford defender almost at will. Sure he went for 13 points in the second half, but he would only take advantage of his quickness every fourth or fifth possession. They ought to have kept running the same plays, Wise penetrating and finding Hill or getting a lay-up, until Stanford found a way to stop them. By going away from that and trying to get other players who are playing scared or are currently incapable of throwing it into the ocean, Arizona effectively gave up their advantage and handed the game to Stanford on a silver platter.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing Stanford here, in fact despite Stanford appearing semi-lazy they still managed to fight of any attempts Arizona could muster by going on mini-runs to keep the game out of reach. They only shot 34.8 percent from beyond the arc, but it seemed like they would always hit them when the momentum would start to shift – and a ridiculous amount of them came from the corner. I commend Stanford on that, but also am appalled at Arizona’s lack of effort on the defensive end. It was down-right horrid.

The ugliest part of the game wasn’t the fact that they didn’t exploit their advantages, or shut clamp down the perimeter defense – even if Stanford did only shoot 34%. Simply put, the ugliest part of the game was that the Wildcats were playing outside of themselves and their roles, and they were playing frustrated tonight. While I commend Jamelle Horne for his hustle tonight, he reminded me of Jordan Hill because of the inexcusable fouls. Horne knew that Budinger was slumping and was attempting to step up and fill the void. Unfortunately, rather than sticking to what Horne does best, he tried to do too much and hurt the team by fouling out with nearly six minutes remaining.. Zane Johnson also played outside himself when he put the ball on the floor for consecutive plays and picked up an offensive foul.

When Budinger’s inability to score and be an offensive threat first started, players were playing within themselves and their capabilities. Horne posted a double-double, Fogg had a fantastic game, and everything was okay. Now as Budinger’s and the team’s frustration level is rising because of this slump, we’re seeing players trying to do too much and not combining hustle and effort with smart play. That’s a problem that needs to be addressed by Pennell and Co. in a huge manner, and for the time being “The Big Three” has become “The Big Two” and that’s something the Wildcats will only find limited success with.

The Good:

  • Jordan Hill tallies a double-double again with 17 points and 16 rebounds

The Bad:

  • Chase Budinger went 4-11 for 12 points
  • Jamelle Horne fouled out with nearly 6 minutes remaining.

The Ugly:

  • Arizona’s 19 turnovers, which ties a season high, led to 16 Stanford points
  • 8 Assists, 19 turnovers = 0.42 team A/TO ratio – that’s just horrendous team basketball.

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