Three Opinions on Arizona’s Opening Weekend

Posted by Andrew Murawa, Tracy McDannald & Adam Butler on November 17th, 2014

With no single must-watch game in the conference this weekend, we tasked our guys with getting a good look at Arizona’s pair of games and coming away with some first impressions on the conference’s heavy favorite. In a pair of wins over lesser opponents, here’s what caught our eyes.

Adam Butler: I don’t doubt that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson tweaked his shoulder. But I also don’t know how a tweaked shoulder would keep him out of the starting lineup and off the court for just the first few minutes. For both games the lengthy defender came off the bench just like he did last year. Is this the route Sean Miller is going to take for the whole season? There are a ton of weapons at Miller’s disposal and he seems to be using these lesser opponents as a testing ground for different lineups. Rondae certainly gets starter minutes and is/will play in all crunch situations, but his starting on the bench is an interesting twist following the benching of Stanley Johnson for Arizona’s exhibition game. RHJ certainly is comfortable coming off the bench, but I’m curious if this helps Gabe York feel more comfortable as a starter.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Started The Season as A Reserve Due To A "Tweaked" Shoulder (Mike Christy, Arizona Daily Star)

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Started The Season as A Reserve Due To A “Tweaked” Shoulder (Mike Christy, Arizona Daily Star)

One other thing that I noticed was the play of Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Much has been made of Miller’s point guards since becoming the coach at Arizona. Now it seems he has both a true point guard and a quality backup as well. PJC scored 15 points and dished five assists over the weekend and — perhaps most importantly — looked the part. He was cool and confident on the floor. I don’t imagine he’s going to play a ton this season, but these early successes will bode well in the limited role he’ll see as this season gets into more significant games.

Tracy McDannald: Obviously, Brandon Ashley‘s return and big opening night opened a bunch of eyes in Arizona’s first weekend of games. But the Wildcats’ top six in the rotation will perform on more nights it doesn’t and four of them could easily be named the player of most any game. What impressed me was the team’s shooting against Cal State Northridge on Sunday night after a rough opener in that area. There was a bit of a hesitant trigger against the zone early, but the rhythm came along in the second half thanks to some crisp passing and simple execution. In particular, freshman point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright played well on both nights and has started his collegiate career 3-of-5 on three-pointers. If he can continue to shoot the ball well, that gives the Wildcats another capable threat to go with Gabe York and Elliott Pitts in the backcourt.

Andrew Murawa: I have some concerns about the Wildcats’ half-court offense when they match up against teams that are athletically on the same level as them. For instance, I’m sure that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson must have hit a shot that wasn’t a dunk this weekend, but I’m equally sure that I don’t remember one. Stanley Johnson is a phenomenal athlete who can create opportunities for himself in transition, or by breaking down a defender, or by getting on the glass for some garbage points, but he doesn’t have a polished enough jumper to make defenders respect it. Both of those guys will improve as the season wears on, but for now Brandon Ashley is the team’s most versatile offensive threat, capable of knocking in jumpers, getting free off screens (Johnson has already proven himself an adept roadblock in the paint), scoring in the post, and getting on the glass. I would further prescribe a little high-low action with Ashley spreading the floor and then Kaleb Tarczewski – or even Hollis-Jefferson or Johnson – posting up his man underneath. Once again, this team looks capable of being very good defensively, but it may find itself needing to manufacture some points when the opposition doesn’t let them get out in transition.

AMurawa (999 Posts)

Andrew Murawa Likes Basketball.

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *