Cats solve problems, discover more

The problems listed below are what cost Arizona the game against Virginia. Against the Michigan the Cats made some improvements in some areas, and also went downhill in others. This is how it breaks down in my opinion.

Shooting—I didn't think it could get any worse than the performance at the UVA game. But, it did. Stoudamire must shoot more, because he (and now McClellan) are the only players I feel comfortable with shooting from long range. Radenovic can hit, so long as he spots up, and doesn't create his own shot. The shooting, I believe, will come around. Still, 23% is unacceptable. Shooting is what almost lost them the game. It is, obviously, something to continue working on.

Defensive reboundingMichigan grabbed 10 offensive rebounds. However, not many of them were right under the basket for an easy lay in. The Wildcats showed a substantial improvement in this category. The ‘Cats also nabbed 18 offensive boards of their own—it's really too bad Frye and Adams can't finish from underneath the hoop, but we'll get to that later. Cross this problem off the list.

Defending the transition—There were a couple of instances where Michigan simply beat them down the floor for an easy give-and-go dunk, but the problem was not as apparent as in the Virginia game. Again, a nice improvement to help the ‘Cats edge Michigan. A team will always surrender a few transition buckets, so I'll take this off the problem list, as well.

Sloppy passing/turnoversArizona reduced the amount of turnovers from the last game to this game from 21 to 15; a vast improvement. Stoudamire and Shakur, however, still have a tendency to stick their head into the opposing postman's gut, and consequently lose the ball. Frye also still has problems holding on to the ball. Hopefully that will fix itself as the season progresses. I'm going to continue to watch this over the next game or two.

Finishing—When watching a basketball game on television, this has got to be the most aggravating thing to see out of your team: missed lay ups. Channing Frye, Ivan Radenovic, and Hassan Adams get countless offensive rebounds, but none of them seem to be able to put the ball in the basket afterwards. Frye and Adams should be strong enough to go straight up and jam it with two hands, and as for Radenovic, he simply needs to learn how to use the backboard, with authority. Finishing is still a major dilemma.

New Problems Arise…

As I read through the message boards after the game, I noticed many fans were happy with the team's heart, and wonderful fight for victory. Personally, as I was watching the game, I kept thinking to myself, this team is still struggling. At the same, though, I was telling myself, this team can improve. Despite poor performances in the past couple of games, I have faith the Cats can have a good season. This is what they will need to do, in the short term, to improve:

Free Throws—The ‘Cats shot 12 for 20 from the line. Luckily, Michigan was even worse. Free throws win games folks, and had Arizona done a little better from the line, there would be no overtime, and probably no racing hearts. It is clear that Adams is not the shooter we wanted him to be, but an air ball has no excuse. He needs to focus on free throws, as he will be getting to the line often.

Inconsistent Playing Time—Lute Olson is still trying to figure out who should play more, and who shouldn't. I think he learned that Jawann McClellan is a stud, and should get at least 25 minutes a game. This insecurity of playing time in the players might affect their play, and once Lute gets a consistent substitution routine, the players can settle down and perform better. To evaluate this in the future, I will look at the playing time of the next three games the Wildcats play, and see if the PT of each player is consistent.

Hassan Adams (ENERGY!)—They need energy from this guy day in and day out. We saw it against the University of Virginia, and although he had a nice alley-oop dunk, I never saw a positive spark of energy come from him. Against the Wolverines it came from Jawann McClellan. It pumps the team up, and personally makes me feel more comfortable, when I see Adams clap his hands on defense or during a timeout. He also needs to realize that his place is above the rim, and not beyond the arc.

In the end:

I'm glad to see the Wildcats get the win, and earn the highly anticipated match up with Wake Forest. We also discovered a new weapon in Jawann McClellan. But there are many things to work on. The way they played tonight is not going to get it done. But hey, what am I saying… It's only November!

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