Arizona played today unlike any other Arizona team I've ever watched. Right now, this is not an Arizona team capable of beating any quality opponent. They are just not playing well enough to convince me otherwise. From unnecessary around the back passes thrown straight out of bounds to getting beat up and down the floor on every single possession, this clearly is not a team that is focused on basketball.
What is Arizona focused on? I literally have no idea in watching them play of late.
Sure, the coaches and players can make all the statements they want before and after games but unless you show something on the court it's all just dry Tucson air.
From my perspective, Arizona apparently thinks that winning basketball games is accomplished by playing no defense, inexplicably missing uncontested lay ups, finger rolling shots from five feet away, turning the ball over, bricking wide open jump shots, struggling to inbound the ball, and on and on and on.
The past three weeks have provided some of the lowest moments in recent history. It's easy to dismiss Arizona's losses because until today they had fallen to four conference foes by a combined 17 points but final scores mean little in evaluating a team.
Arizona played poorly against Wazzu, made a final minute comeback and then laid an egg in overtime to lose. Against UCLA, they played mediocre, undisciplined basketball for 38 minutes, fell down by 12, then made another final minute last ditch effort that was only good enough to make the final deficit respectable. Against USC the same could be said in that that game was over at halftime even though they made is close again in the closing minutes. You could just see it on the players' faces walking into the locker room at the break. They were broken.
Today, the game was over before it really started. Arizona was clearly not in the right mindset to win. They simply got outhustled because North Carolina just wanted it more. Sure, the Wildcats had a few fancy dunks and the referees had some blown calls that should've helped them but mainly what will be a blowout loss today falls squarely on Arizona.
Next Thursday, Arizona will face Washington State. If anyone thinks Arizona will win this game just because it's at McKale then you better think again.
Today, Arizona had one key to the game that would help them win. All they had to do was slow down the game and play it in the half court. For some ridiculous reason the Wildcats seem to think that they're the Phoenix Suns and they can just outscore people. The reality is that Arizona has five very good players who are difficult to defend one on one, especially if they are being set up by their teammates. So, instead of slowing down the Tar Heels and executing in their half court sets what does Arizona do?
They shoot three pointer after three pointer, they whip passes around like the basketball was a ticking time bomb and they play no defense.
For the first time ever, I've actually walked away from the game today. I don't know what the final score is and I really don't care. Arizona could be trailing by one at this point and it wouldn't even matter. From what I saw during the first 30 minutes of this game, I was embarrassed for Arizona, its players, coaches and fans.
I sincerely hope this team turns things around but from what I can tell this team does not have the mental fortitude to compete at a high level. What the exact reason is I'm sorry to say I don't know.
All I can say is I hope the players do and under the guidance of Lute Olson they can somehow find a way to play with confidence again.