WildcatAuthority.com continues its preview of Arizona's first round matchup with Memphis on Friday by interviewing FoxSports.com national college basketball writer Jeff Goodman.
WildcatAuthority.com: How big of an accomplishment was it for Arizona to get a #5 seed?
Jeff Goodman: It's ridiculous. To get a #5 seed this year for Arizona is unbelievable. I think they've clearly overachieved; you could make a case that they're the fifth most talented team in the Pac-10. You could make the case. Washington and UCLA, to me, are clearly more talented overall. You could say that USC and Washington State are right there with (Arizona).
For them to win the regular season title and come within one Isaiah Thomas shot of winning the Pac-10 Tournament, I think it shows a lot for Sean Miller and the staff and the players. I've criticized the players a little bit, but they've maximized what they can do, and I give them a lot of credit for that because I didn't think they'd be a #5 seed.
WildcatAuthority.com: Does this mean you are done fighting with Arizona fans?
Jeff Goodman: I was never fighting with them. The problem is, and people think I go too far in it, I'm objective with everything. I'm going to call it the way I see it and people aren't going to like it. Duke fans hate me, Carolina fans hate me and Kentucky fans hate me. You name it, most of them don't like me.
Purdue fans hate me and you're not going to find a bigger fan of Matt Painter and Purdue than me, but I dropped them from #2 to #25 when they lost Robbie Hummel and said they're not going to really do anything. I think part of it is that this was a unique season in which there weren't a lot of great teams.
I think chemistry and intangibles made up for experience with some teams. Notre Dame and St. John's to name a couple, are able to make it up. There's not a huge gap in talent, like there usually is, with some of the elite teams.
You've got Kansas and Ohio State, and some of those other teams are talented, but look at Pittsburgh, it might not have a single NBA player on its entire roster and it's a #1 seed. That says something about the talent level this year as opposed to the past.
WildcatAuthority.com: So what do you attribute Arizona's success this year to?
Jeff Goodman: I think coaching and Derrick Williams being a great teammate as well as a great player. Here's a kid who comes in with no swagger, just a prototypical college basketball player.
I'm going to compare him to a kid and it's not fair, he's not at the same level talent wise, but he reminds of Kevin Durant in how he acts and how he conducts himself. He's a special kid and I'm not talking about on the court. He's a lead by example type guy who isn't fiery but he just does the right thing.
Shoot, do you know how many kids, if they shot that percentage from three, would be jacking over and over and over? My guess is that Sean Miller probably has to tell Derrick Williams to shoot more threes.
Most kids are looking at the NBA when they could be a lottery pick – he could be a top five pick – would be standing out there showing every NBA GM and executive that's watching them, ‘Hey look, I can be a three, watch me.' He doesn't get into any of that.
In the game against Washington, he took one three-pointer, one. It's crazy – crazy. The amount of respect I have for Derrick Williams is through the roof. I probably should have put him on the first-team (All-American list), I gave the nod to Jordan Taylor, largely because I thought his team just accomplished a little bit more at that point.
WildcatAuthority.com: What did you think of Arizona's bracket?
Jeff Goodman: I think they've got a good shot of at least getting through one and beating Memphis. Memphis has been a tough team to figure this year. Obviously we know Josh Pastner and I'm not sure he's a perfect fit for Memphis and those kids at this stage of his career. I think it's a very difficult situation.
He wasn't left with a lot of talent, he's left with no leadership and they've had tough times this year because of that. They brought in a really good class but they had to kick off one of the better players before the season and he's benched Joe Jackson for a good portion of the year.
This is a team that is probably more talented than Arizona, but they're young and probably walked in with more swagger than they should have in the beginning of the year, when I saw them at Midnight Madness. Before the season they had a ton of swagger, and when I saw them again in the season they were down a little bit.
I think Arizona wins this game. I think they have enough pieces and I don't think Memphis has anybody that can guard Derrick Williams.
I think Derrick Williams could go for 40, and he's got to be a little bit more assertive in this game. If he takes 10 shots, they lose. To me, they've got to get him 15 shots, minimum. I know he hasn't had many of those games this year, but he's got to get 15 shots in this game. I think they win this one and they lose to Texas.
WildcatAuthority.com: On paper, do you like Arizona's draw in Memphis?
Jeff Goodman: Yeah, I think so. Again, I think they have enough. I think they have enough experience with some of their role guys when you talk about Jamelle Horne's been through it a little bit and MoMo's tough. The one thing MoMo won't be is intimidated. Kyle Fogg, (Kevin) Parrom.
You've got some New York kids who I think probably work well because they go into the tournament with a lot of swagger. They want to play. You've got some L.A. kids like Solomon Hill and it's the same thing. Jordin Mayes I think is solid.
They've got a bunch of good players. Not a lot of great players other than Derrick Williams, but a lot of solid, good players who for the most part understand their role. I just worry if Derrick Williams has an off game and only gets 10 shots if they can win.
Five Questions with Jeff Goodman
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