Return to old scheme can only hope

If it ain't broke don't fix it. Isn't that the old adage? Arizona has struggled with their offense throughout the young season while trying to implement a new attack. The only big question is "why did they tinker with it at all?"

The Wildcats opened the season trying to implement a four-out, one-in motion offense. It was supposed to free up shooters and take advantage of players like Ivan Radenovic and Marcus Williams, two vastly different players who were set to see time at the four.

The scheme did work, there were plenty of open looks. The Wildcats just did not hit them. Going into the NAU game the Cats were shooting less than 40%. The offense also hurt the Wildcats on the boards as they often had four players out on the wing while the defense had players crashing the boards.

The big question is why change the offense at all? It wasn't like the Wildcats could not score. Despite slow starts each of the past two years, the Cats led the nation in scoring average for the last four years.

It's like if the USC football team decided to tinker with their offense. Even when Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush leave, the offense will remain largely unchanged. The Cats lost Salim Stoudamire and Channing Frye and Olson decided to try to revamp things.

I don't like to doubt Olson, but I just don't get it. The old offense allowed the four to get perimeter looks for players who could hit from the outside. Both Ray Owes and Ricky Anderson hit their fair share of threes while playing power forward.

Maybe it was an effort to impress recruits. There are a number of talented prep power forwards who have perimeter skills and want a chance to improve those skills in an effort to play the three at the professional level. Guys like Gary Johnson, Alex Tyus and even Lance Thomas want to see that even if they have to play the four, they will get to display their perimeter skills.

The Cats brought back the old scheme against the Lumberjacks with mixed success. The team only scored 75 points, but got good looks when slashing to the basket. Against St. Mary's two days later they scored 73 but got better looks. The Cats were not knocking shots, but the looks were better.

The Wildcats took just 10 three pointers against St. Mary's and players other than Chris Rodgers shot 13 against NAU. This is a good recipe for success for this team. Arizona just does not have the pure shooters to live out on the arc. Most of their wing players are better slashers than shooters.

Even in the glory days of Arizona basketball, midrange buckets were more important to the team's success than the long shots were. Who can forget the Miles Simon runner, Jason Gardner's step-back or a Jason Terry pull-up jumper. Sure there were plenty of threes, but as good a shooter Gilbert Arenas was, he was most dangerous when slashing.

The Arizona offense has a long ways to go, but there is hope. The shooting percentage has been higher, though not high enough for Arizona standards. Arizona's wings may never be great shooters, but as the season progresses, they should improve. As the team continues to work on getting better looks, the offense will improve. They will never shoot the lights out, but in the upcoming months they should be able to rely a little less on defense to get wins.

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