Tag Archives: Matthew Knight Arena

The Mighty Fall While the Mighty of Size Struggle

Well we certainly never thought Nick Johnson was an elite ball handler and so when he entered a brace of Ducks (yes, that’s officially what you call a group of ducks) with a chance to win or tie a game late for the fourth time this season, he couldn’t.

And that’s OK. It’s by no means the crowning moment of defeat. The Wildcats did little beyond show up to try to win that game. While saying such has a tinge of sour grapes, it’s hard to say the fourth ranked team in the country did their thing and got beat at it when good chunks of the game were spent gazing at a 2-3 zone. But credit where it’s due. The Ducks were the one’s playing that zone and playing it actively; allowing it to be anchored by the Woods and Austin, the two of whom possess length to rival Interstate-10. Impressive to say the least.

And for all my senior bravado speak let’s discuss EJ Singler. Conference play has begun and the senior is going for 15/8/4 across two games. For sweet cliche’s sake, he’s stepped up, risen to the challenge, and he’s come to play. I respect that.

But perhaps the most interesting part about that game was that Oregon showed no fear of the Wildcats. Arizona came out with a haymaker, an 11-0 run with equal parts defensive and laser efficient shooting and all appeared well for the Red Team. A Dana Altman timeout sought to cool the run only to have Waverly Austin turn the ball over leading to a Lyons layup. And then the Ducks rattled off 41-19 punishment which won them the game. Quarter by quarter, if you will, the game scores were 22-20, 8-21, 20-19, and 16-10. Arizona beat the Ducks in each of those except in that critical second quarter during which Oregon was flat out the better team.

I made a note that Arizona allows just 23% of the field goals they yield to be at the rim. While I don’t have the exact stats regarding shots at the rim for the Ducks Thursday night, I do know that their three contributing bigs (Waverly, Woods, Kazemi) combined for 22 points and 14 rebounds. Arizona’s three biggens? 7/11. Generally not a recipe for victory.

Last week Miller made no bones about the fact that Ashley, Tarczewski, and Jerrett need to improve. For Arizona to compete for the things they want to compete for, they must.

And there was a moment last night that I thought sort of captured the way of these freshmen. Mark Lyons made a good move to get into the belly of the zone and was driving across the lane. He’d previously been blocked seemingly countless times and had come to learn his lesson. He drew and handful of defenders and the zone bust appeared to be coming into full effect. There was the for Jerrett to have the ball delivered to him on a platter for a two handed flush or at least to draw a foul or do something really tight that no body even knows of. Whatever he was to do, he was not supposed to drift to the three point line.

The ball wound up amongst the beautiful Oregon cheerleaders and not in Grant’s hands. On the television we could see Lyons’ frustration as he explained to the 6’11” jump shooter that he needs to be a 6’11” force. Because he can. And will.

This is a part of the learning curve. It’s no secret Arizona’s recipe involves savvy vets playing well and some talented pups to just play. When the latter half of that equation makes its leap – not even a leap to great but to anything-better-than-7-points-and-11-boards – this will be a frightening team. Hell, they’re 14-1 with question marks abound.

And while that first loss tastes bitter, the best palate cleanse is to learn.

Arizona at Oregon: Ducks and Cats on Top of Trees

The Wildcats are traveling to Eugene and Corvallis this weekend for the first time since the Pac became a twelver. In advance of this inaugural appearance inside Matthew Knight, the guys over at Addicted to Quack invited me onto their Podcast and didn’t ask me to ramble but I did all over this Wildcat team, the matchup with the Ducks, and even got me to speak about the Tempe school.

Listen to it with your ears.

And watch Thursday’s game with your eyes because it’s lining up to be a good one. While it seems the Cats may have lost some steam heading into this bout, I think the fact they stumbled through last weekend makes this game even more intriguing. There’s that common argument, maybe the most frustrating one in the world, that an undefeated team should lose a game here or there. You know, to keep their edge or whatever. If that’s indeed the case, what Arizona managed to do last weekend was lose without adding a loss to the record. No wonder they’re ranked as one of the most efficient teams in the nation!

The Duck’s could’ve added to the intrigue-meter by not losing at UTEP in an assortment of overtimes but hey, Chip Kelly’s coming back, so things aren’t at all bad in Eugene.

Interestingly, there isn’t much here by way of storylines between these two schools. Or at least not of a late. Dana Altman appears to be a polite man and Matt Court – as I learned on the ATQ podcast – has yet to meet it’s fullĀ  potential as a home court advantage. The Ducks’ old home was vicious. It’s been awhile since these two squared off as two formidable opponents.

For this one I’ve also stumbled across my inner stat geek which just adds to game anticipation (I see you @jgisland). Did you know that Arizona allows just 23% of the shots taken against them to be attempted “at the rim?” That’s fifteenth best in the nation at protecting the bucket from easy stuff like layups and dunks. Conversely, DYK that Oregon takes 40% of their shots from that very space Arizona does such a good job of keeping people away from?

Holy contrast Batman, we’ve got opposing styles!

Each of these squads is dedicated to their system, a tribute to the coaches and the number of transfers from their respective programs early in their tenures. Each has taken heat on that subject but that tends to be the reality of today’s college sport. And maybe they’ve missed on some recruits, which is a byproduct of rushed evaluations and the need for bodies during a regime change.

But that’s too far down the recruiting rabbit hole that I generally don’t venture down. Except the two times I went to see Chase Budinger and last year when I watched Aaron Gordon.

Anyhow, we’re prepped to have a good one. Some Cats and Ducks runnin’ around atop some trees.

Note: Stats from this article were courtesy of this ridiculously comprehensive site: http://www.hoop-math.com/index.html