After failing to "execute" in their loss on Saturday to Virginia, the Wildcats went back to the drawing board yesterday to prepare for their matchup with the Kangaroos. Defending the three, not turning the basketball over, and out rebounding your opponent are just a few things that this team needs to improve on; especially when facing a team like UMKC who loves to shoot the basketball from behind the arc.
Tonight's matchup could be a difficult one for Arizona if they fail to defend the three point shot, something they didn't do versus Virginia. In three games, UMKC has attempted 77 three point shots, and hit on 35% of them. They're averaging an astounding 25.67 three point field attempts per game. In Arizona's two games, they've allowed their opponents to shoot 49% from behind the arc. If UMKC comes out hitting their perimeter shots in the shooting haven that is the McKale Center, the Wildcats could be looking at a difficult task to accomplish.
The Kangaroos are coached by Matt Brown, a product of West Virginia's former head coach, John Beilein. Knowing that, you can expect them to utilize the three point shot exclusively, especially against a team like Arizona that has struggled defending the three point shot early in this season.
UMKC's roster displays three players that are 6'9 or taller; however, in their three games, those three players have combined for nine total minutes with one of those players not making a single appearance. After that, they don't have a single player taller than 6'8. While Arizona's front court has been an issue during the early parts of their season, the fact that they have the advantage in the front court versus UMKC could work to their definite advantage.
However, Arizona will still need to rebound the basketball better than they've displayed during their first two games. UMKC is allowing their opponents to outrebound them by 10.7 per game, along with allowing 11.3 offensive rebounds per game by their opponent. Arizona will need to take distinct advantage of this during tonight's game, using whatever advantage they may have in the front court.
UMKC has also struggled taking care of the basketball in their first three games, committing a little more than 16 turnovers per game. The Wildcats newly improved defense, one which Virginia's Sean Singletary described as defending him better than he's ever been defended before, will need to take advantage of the Kangaroos inability to take care of the basketball. Forcing turnovers, resulting in transition opportunities could prove just as important as Arizona improving their defense against the three point shot.
We've seen some positives, and some negatives during Arizona's first two games. The defense looks to be vastly improved from where it was a year ago, and the attitude being displayed by this team is also an improvement. However, this team still has too many lulls on the defensive end, resulting in not putting away their opponent when they should be doing so.
While this team is one of the youngest and least experienced teams that we've seen from Arizona in quite some time, they need to continue to improve on these things over the course of the season; and that continues with their game versus UMKC tonight.