Over the weekend the Arizona Wildcats took Texas Tech behind the woodshed and beat them. It’s the same treatment, to date, they’ve been giving to the nation’s 294th toughest schedule.
Yes, these ‘Cats have played no one. Their “toughest” game to date was arguably that Red Raiders squad and they were 4-0 against the worst schedule in the country. In and of itself, Arizona’s woeful schedule is a conversation. But these opponents were pieced together by design, a component of the rebuilding Sean Miller had to do when he inherited a near disaster of a program. In the coming years, there will be marquee games littering the November and December slate before embarking upon an increasingly competitive Pac-12 season.
Whilst on this cake walk, the Arizona dialogue has not been able to evolve much beyond speculation and hype. The freshmen are good, Nick Johnson has improved, Solomon Hill is doing his thing. Pretty much nothing new.
And so now I’m starting to see people harping on Mark Lyons’ struggles. This is trolling. This is hunting for a conversation. It’s straight Limbaugh, Cowherd, Bayless – creating controversy out of thin air. I read about it in the Arizona Daily Wildcat and the Arizona Daily Star. To this I say NIET! No struggling. Struggling to me would mean bad things are happening and I don’t see much negative in the cardinal and navy jersey number two. Now to be fair, each of these pieces have elements of praise for Lyons’ performance but I question what the barometer is. If Josiah Turner set the Arizona PG bar, Lyons is a legend. If Damon Stoudamire set it, well, Lyons has some work to do. Alas, to say the senior has struggled is far from realistic.
Has he turned the ball over? Absolutely. His turnover rate is hovering just below 30% and that’s not good and I’m not going to dwell there.
Because did you know Mark Lyons has the 69th highest effective field goal percentage in the nation? The number itself is 63.8%. Remember Derrick Williams and how we lauded his efficiency? Williams’ eFG% was 65%. How’s that for efficient company? And so while Lyons has been inefficient taking care of the ball, when he does hang on to it, he’s doing good things. Efficiency is a mark of how well you repeatedly do something. I’ll argue Mark Lyons is an efficient winner.
It’s been no secret that he can score and is it really a requirement that a point guard lead the nation in assists? I don’t think so. I think he’s supposed to facilitate the offense. Arizona is the eighth best offensive team in the country (as determined by KenPom’s AdjO). To that point, Arizona on the whole is bigger than its parts. As a team, the Wildcats assist on 65% of their made field goals. If passing is what you want, you’re getting it. Maybe not from Lyons as much you’d like but then it simply becomes a semantics conversation. True point guard, two guard, slasher, combo guard; call him whatever you want. I’m going to call him good.
These are some gaudy numbers I’ve thrown out here in an argument that is really in its infancy. Arizona could open a trendy, chic pastry shop called Walk with all the cupcakes they’ve got. The sample set is minimal and can really only be used to begin letting us examine trends. To that, I’ll say its fair to notice Lyons’ turnovers.
But to say he’s struggling is an overstatement and undeserving.