Arizona will be the highest-ranked team the North Dakota Fighting Hawks have ever played at the Division I level, but the coaching staff feels that the matchup will be nothing short of a challenge.
"They really do a good job of stealing the ball," Arizona Assistant Book Richardson said. "That’s going to be a challenge for us because they are a fast, intuitive group.
"They’re going to pressure the ball, deny us at the rim and try to take our team out of rhythm. We have to be solid on both sides of the ball.
"They put up 80 points a game and when we really think about it, there’s absolutely no pressure on them.”
Richardson is in charge of scouting North Dakota and is not underestimating the play of Quinton Hooker and Geno Crandall.
“Both of those guys are Pac-12 guards,” he said. “There’s no let off in the way they’ve played all season. I don’t care if they are on Washington, UCLA or USC, those two are Pac-12 guards. We are going to have our hands full.”
While North Dakota only has one even foot player on the roster, Richardson emphasizes that the size differential of Arizona’s upfront should not be a simple clear cut advantage.
“It’s really only an advantage if our guys are making shots,” Richardson said. “You have to remember that a lot of smaller players had their way with someone like Lauri this season.
“As a team, we have to make sure that we utilize every advantage that we have and Lauri’s outside shooting and post play is certainly one.
“That also comes with rebounding the basketball well. If we can bring that full effort to every game played, we think we’ll have a pretty good chance to compete.”