Arizona has had a rollercoaster of a season thus far in 2011-12 and it's no secret that the team is struggling to come together as one cohesive unit. Recently, head coach Sean Miller stated that he has no plans to change his approach to games and, instead, the players are going to have to play a more efficient brand of basketball.
But what exactly can UA players change from an individual stand point? The team is at a serious size disadvantage and the players aren't going to get any taller. With that being said, there are ways for this team to overcome its offensive woes despite the lack of quality depth in true big men.
For starters, the Wildcats must consistently knock down their three-point shots. Against Utah, UA was able to accomplish this, attempting 24 shots from long range and connecting on 50 percent of them. Players such as Kyle Fogg, Nick Johnson, Jordin Mayes and Brendon Lavender must continue to shoot the ball efficiently from the perimeter or it could put a big dent in the offensive strategy. Without quality jump shooters, Arizona's lack of size will be much easier to expose.
There has to be a way to get these players open looks though. There must be crisp ball movement (as well movement without the ball) in order to get the jump shooters quality looks.
When Josiah Turner pushes the ball, this seems to happen at a higher rate. While many will point to Turner's turnover average, the offense generally runs with better flow with him on the court. He may need to tone down the energy at times, but Turner is the only player that has the ability to speed up the offense with any kind of efficiency.
Jordin Mayes does a fine job as a spot-up shooter, but as a point guard he just isn't quite there at this point in time. With Mayes on the floor, the offense tends to go into half-court mode and that's mostly when UA's size disadvantage is exposed. The Wildcats have shown that it can be effective in the half-court periodically, but the team has the makeup of a squad that could be better offensively playing at a fast pace.
Turner's role plays a big part in Arizona's success. If he proves he deserves more minutes, it will be good for the Wildcats because it will allow them to keep pushing the tempo. It will make it more difficult for the opposition to guard the wings and someone will be open for a quality shot on the majority of UA's possessions.
There is also the rebounding factor. While the lack of height along the frontline would make it difficult for any team to consistently win battles along the boards, Arizona has managed to do well enough to rank fourth in the conference in that department. Players like the undersized Jesse Perry and Solomon Hill have done their part on the glass in order to keep Arizona above water, but what the Wildcats' staff would really like is for Angelo Chol to take another step in the right direction as a rebounder.
Chol is the only true big man that is receiving quality minutes. Kyryl Natyazhko has been relegated to spot minutes and Alex Jacobson hardly sees the floor. Chol continues to grow on the defensive end of the floor, which is crucial, but if he develops more of his offensive game and improve his rebounding, it would be a huge boost for the Wildcats on both ends of the floor.
Chol has a wide wingspan that can give him an advantage over many big men in the conference. If he finds his way offensively, it would open up a whole new dimension to the UA attack.
Arizona must also find a way to cut down the turnovers. The Wildcats are just middle-of-the-pack in the Pac-12 when it comes to taking care of the ball and if they would like to challenge for the conference crown that will have to change. Players like Turner and Hill must take better care of the ball as they are the players that tend to orchestrate the offense more often than not.
UA has some obstacles to overcome. There will need to be many alterations from the players for this squad to progress to the next level. Right now it simply looks like an average basketball team that will struggle to make the postseason.
If Arizona can improve on a few key areas, however, it could be a completely different story by the end of the season. If they pick up the tempo, find quality shots, compete on the boards and take better care of the ball, the Wildcats could climb their way back into the postseason discussion.
Plenty of issues for the Wildcats
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