One Game In: Doom and Gloom For the New Arizona?

Posted by Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on February 7th, 2014

It was Arizona’s first night without Brandon Ashley. While the rest of these Wildcats have spent three months playing with each other, make no mistake — this is the equivalent of a brand new team out there. Minus Ashley, the overwhelming frontcourt advantage that Arizona sported has been lessened; the defensive philosophy has changed; the end-game scenarios now feature as many negatives as positives; and the whole chemistry of the team is different. Really, this is back to exhibition season for the Wildcats; these guys are starting all over.

The New Arizona Team is 1-0, But There Are Concerns (Casey Sapio, USA Today)

The New Arizona Team is 1-0, But There Are Concerns (Casey Sapio, USA Today)

First, while we originally thought guys like Jordin Mayes and Matt Korcheck would see increased roles, neither player took off his warm-ups against Oregon; rather, it was freshman Elliott Pitts who stepped in and played 12 generally solid minutes. Prior to last night, Pitts had played a grand total of six minutes in Pac-12 play: three in mop-up duty in a blowout over Arizona State, and then three more against Cal on Saturday night. His inclusion in the seven-man rotation signals a shift in style; where once this team was predicated on dominating the front line, now you’re going to see Arizona play more three-guard lineups. Pitts brings good energy and what looks like a confident three-point stroke, but at this point in his career, he’s a replacement-level player. Another ripple from the Ashley injury is that it appears Gabe York – a fine player, yes – will shift from a guy earning minute totals somewhere in the mid-teens to the mid-20s. Nothing against York at all, but he’s a significant step down from Ashley’s production. Both of these guys are going to improve and Arizona is going to get used to playing with them in their rotation, but basically it boils down to this: Brandon Ashley’s 28 minutes per game are going to be shifted to about 12 minutes per game for Pitts, maybe eight extra minutes for York, and then eight extra minutes split between Kaleb Tarczewski and Aaron Gordon.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Arizona Post-Mortem

Posted by AMurawa on April 11th, 2013

Now that we are officially in the offseason, it’s time to take a look back and evaluate each team’s 2012-13 performance. Next on our list: Arizona.

What Went Right

You know, after all is said and done, after all the chatter about his strengths and weaknesses, you gotta say that the Mark Lyons experiment turned out pretty well. Yes, the end of the season and a not-quite-buzzer-beating loss to Ohio State in the Sweet Sixteen is disappointing, and a fourth-place Pac-12 finish isn’t what was expected, but down the stretch, this team was clicking pretty well behind Lyons. With a dearth of other create-for-themselves offensive players (outside of Solomon Hill), Lyons was a pretty good fit here. He never materialized as the distributing floor general some had hoped, but he was a good version of himself — scoring efficiently, playing hard and zipping people up defensively.

Despite Some Ups And Downs, You've Got To Call The Mark Lyons Experiment A Success, Right?

Despite Some Ups And Downs, You’ve Got To Call The Mark Lyons Experiment A Success, Right?

What Went Wrong

For a team with three hardened veterans among the seven-man rotation, this was a surprisingly inconsistent team. Much of that can be chalked up to three freshmen occupying the rotation at the four and five spots. As talented as Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett are, they were still freshmen growing into their bodies and into their games. There were blown assignments, soft defense and the handful of boneheaded plays. But, the bright side is all three of these guys got tremendous experience, displayed their major upside and are expected to return next season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 M5: 04.03.13 Edition

Posted by Connor Pelton on April 3rd, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. Five-star combo forward Aaron Gordon ended the suspense on Tuesday morning and announced he’d be signing with Arizona. Gordon chose the Wildcats because of an immediate chance to win a national championship, and for the fact that head coach Sean Miller has a reputation of developing rough-around-the-edges bigs into NBA-ready wings. Gordon has shown a high motor and basketball IQ while playing for Archbishop Mitty (CA), and his ability to dominate any position on the floor made him a huge get for Miller’s program. He joins small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and shooting guard Elliott Pitts in the 2013 Wildcat recruiting class. To view what our very own Parker Baruh wrote on the addition of Gordon to an already stacked Arizona team, click here.
  2. The Ed Rush story remained fluid on Tuesday, as Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott announced that Rush wouldn’t be fired for the comments he made to Pac-12 officials on the Thursday and Friday of the Pac-12 Tournament. Scott provides some context into which the comments were made in the article above, and while they certainly make things look better, Rush still has to go. Bottom line is, ethical lines were crossed, the integrity of the conference’s officials, the people that we count on to be fair, was compromised, and this will be in the back of everyone’s minds whenever a questionable call is made for years to come. Adam Butler breaks down what we probably all had going through our minds the past couple of days here.
  3. Only in America would a college athletic director be upset over a hashtagged phrase that originates from a Tyga song. I seriously thought this was a joke when I started reading it, an April Fool’s prank that came a day late. But no, Florida Gulf Coast athletic director Ken Kavanagh was dead serious when he complained about USC using the phrase #DunkCityUSC, coined by the Trojans after hiring away FGCU coach Andy Enfield. Perhaps Kavanagh should focus more of his time on finding a new coach instead of getting in a ridiculous fight over a cute phrase. Just a thought.
  4. Washington State announced on Tuesday that former head coach George Raveling would be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on November 24 later this year. One of the winningest coaches in Cougars history, Raveling took WSU to a pair of NCAA Tournaments and developed such greats as Craig Ehlo and James Donaldson in his 11 years on the Palouse. The current director of international basketball for Nike will be inducted in Kansas City along with six other coaches, teams, players, and contributors.
  5. After an afternoon interview with commissioner Larry Scott, new UCLA head coach Steve Alford was introduced in Westwood at a press conference broadcast live on the Pac-12 Networks. It’s a new era for the Bruins, who hope that their 13th head coach will lead them to success seen in the early years of the Ben Howland era, and not in the controversial and frustrating last few. Alford was very humble throughout the conference, calling the job a great challenge while also being gracious of his time in Albuquerque.
Share this story

Who’s Got Next? Wainright Opts For Baylor; Missouri Adds Two…

Posted by CLykins on October 25th, 2012

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Chad Lykins, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitments of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions dedicated solely to Duke Basketball at Duke Hoop Blog. You can also follow Chad at his Twitter account @CLykinsBlog for up-to-date breaking news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Scott Drew Hauls in Wainright

After making an official visit to the Baylor campus for their “Midnight Madness” festivities nearly two weeks ago, small forward prospect Ishmail Wainright made it official last Thursday evening by verbally committing to the Bears. Wainright, the No. 26 ranked prospect in the ESPN 100, picked Baylor over Ohio State, St. John’s and Texas.

Scott Drew Continues to Pile Up the Top Recruits at Baylor

A Missouri native, the 6’6″ Wainright was formerly a Missouri commitment back in May 2011. At the conclusion of that summer, he decided to reopen his recruitment after a successful AAU campaign. As Wainright began the recruiting process all over again, over 30 of the top schools in the country reached out to the Missouri small forward. With his recent commitment to Baylor, Wainright will join power forward Jonathan Motley as the only two commitments for the Bears from the class of 2013.

When describing Wainright’s overall game, he is a tremendous athlete and one of the most physically imposing small forwards at the high school level. On the offensive end, Wainright does most of his damage scoring around the rim, either in transition or driving to the basket when creating for himself off the bounce. He is also a great passer with even better court vision. He has a knack for making the right play at the right time when creating opportunities for his teammates to make plays. A glaring weakness of his offensive game, however, has been his shooting. Prior to the summer, Wainright was not a good shooter. Most defenses took note of that fact by playing him loosely, forcing him into taking shots from the outside. As exhibited during the early recruiting period in the summer, though, Wainright showed an ever improving jump shot. To round out his game, Wainright needs to make it a point to continue working on his shooting touch before ending up on the Baylor campus. On the defensive end, Wainright is as good as they come. With great length, strength and athleticism, Wainright is arguably one of the best defenders from the class of 2013. He can guard multiple positions on the floor in part due to his great frame. He is a nightmare for the opposition and will continue to be well into his college career.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story