A quick glance at the press

At the beginning of the 02-03 season, the Arizona Wildcat coaches talked about how the team would try to press opponents constantly to cause turnovers and keep the tempo of the game up. The "40 minutes of hell," as it was called, was quickly shelved before the ‘Cats reached the midway point in the season. Next year Arizona will have the athletes, size, and depth to make the press successful in a way that it was unable to this last season.

Coach Lute Olson has already stated he has an interest in running a full-court press next season. Olson indicated that Arizona was forced to drop the press this season because it simply wasn't effective with certain personel in the game. The UA lacked the quick big men that are needed for the press and next year that should not be a problem.

The Cats' quickness will improve most at the power forward position. Rick Anderson was not built for the full-court press, especially when teamed with a less than healthy Luke Walton at the other forward position. Anderson had solid speed, but lacked lateral quickness needed for a successful pressing and trapping defense.

Channing Frye was able to play the press effectively last year, but Isaiah Fox wasn't necessarily quick enough to spell him. Kirk Walters' remarkable jumping ability and speed will make him a great candidate to back up Frye when the team wants to run the press.

Next season Arizona can incorporate line-ups that are long and tall, creating defensive problems for opponents. If Hassan Adams can develop a more consistent jumper during the off-season,  he can play at the two-guard spot with Andre Iguodala at the three. Together they can create havoc for opponents when they're in the lineup together.

Long, athletic players like Chris Dunn, Mustafa Shakur and Chris Rodgers could also thrive in the press. All three are quick and their length makes them dangerous in the passing lanes.

The press could even be more important next year since the Wildcats may need the defense to create offense. Without polished offensive players like Anderson, Walton and Jason Gardner, the Cats may find it vital to get transition opportunities for their athletic young players. Iguodala and Adams have shown just how dangerous they can be in the transition, and great defense and a fast pace (which the press facilitates) should create those fast break opportunities

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