Hoop thoughts

It was a weird end to the Arizona Cal game where the Bears made a late push to make the lead respectable. For about 30 minutes the Wildcats looked nearly unbeatable, but also gave some cause for concern.

Staf Can we end the debate right now? Mustafa Shakur may never be the player that Mike Bibby, Jason Gardner or Damon Stoudamire were, but he's the best option for this team. Now that he has a better cast, no tormentors and a huge dose of confidence, he is having a GREAT season. He's clearly the best option for this team at this time.

Whether you like him or not (and from calls to the Wildcat postgame show many of you just don't like the kid) you cannot deny the season he is having. He currently has 83 assists in just 11 games. If he continues his pace of 7.5 he'd pass Reggie Geary's 231 assists even if the Cats just played one game in the Pac-10 and NCAA Tournament. Long Tourney runs with that average would have him eclipsing Russell Brown's all time single season record of 247 assists. That number was once thought to be nearly untouchable.

Bench We can be honest, the Wildcat bench is not very deep. Daniel Dillon and Bret Brielmaier are solid and rarely hurt the team. In fact against Cal Olson inserted them early and they upped the intensity a bit leading to the Wildcats' run. Jordan Hill also showed some nice things.

However, at the end of the game Olson cleared the bench and things went awry. The Bears made a run and it became clear that there just isn't a ton of depth. To be fair, the Cats did leave by 15 points with eight seconds left but surrendered two threes in the final moments.

Before Wildcat fans start to panic, it must be remembered that the best Wildcat teams rarely went more than two or three deep come Tournament time. As long as the Wildcats don't suffer any injuries or get into foul trouble, depth shouldn't be a big issue.

The Big Concern While defense and a lack of big men get all the headlines, the aspect of the Wildcats I am most worried about is the team's foul shooting. Arizona shot just 53.6% from stripe, yet shot 60.3% from the field. How do you shoot better from the floor than from the stripe?

The two players who concern me most are Marcus Williams and Daniel Dillon. Williams is shooting just 50% from the line this season. Odds are that the Wildcats will need Williams to hit some clutch free throws at some point this season, and unless some things improve, that could be a scary proposition. Dillon is even worse. The junior has only been to the line 17 times, but he's shooting a paltry 35.3% from the stripe. In comparison he's hitting 35.7% of his three pointers.

As a team they are making less than 70% of their foul shots. And no reserve is shooting better than 63% from the line.

Recruits 2008 PG Larry Drew admits the North Carolina is his current leader and that Duke is getting involved. The Wildcats are still clearly involved, and doing fairly well with Drew, but have to make up ground on the Tar Heels. It is not panic time, there is still a long way in his recruiting. At one time UCLA was also his leader, so there seems to be a lot of wiggle room for Drew.

Anthony Jones, a 2008 forward from Houston is listing Texas as his leader but is prominently mentioning the Wildcats. Jones looks to be a mobile PF at the next level, although many feel he could be a SF down the line.

The Cats are still among the leaders for PF Luke Babbitt but a new team seems to be entering the picture. Ohio State is calling and Babbitt has family in Ohio.

Pac-10 USC and WSU showed a lot on Thursday night. USC upended a really good Washington team, while the Cougars gave UCLA all they could handle. In fact WSU had the ball with a chance to win in the final seconds, but settled for an off balanced three too early in the possession and the Bruins held on.

This tells me that both teams are for real. I kind of thought USC would be pretty good, but WSU has now beaten Gonzaga and taken No. 1 UCLA to the limit in Westwood. Add Oregon to the mix and the top half of the Pac-10 could be really, really good.

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