Cats need the "Fox Factor"

Last year's loss in the Sweet-16 did not sit well with the Wildcat basketball players, because there are no moral victories. Who among the players cares that the ‘Cats went from an unranked team to a true contender during the season, because anything less than a national title simply isn't enough.

"That (last year's sweet-16 exit) was a disappointment." Isaiah Fox said. "No one goes into the season without expecting to win it all,"

This year the team seems poised to improve upon last year's play, and to try once again to secure themselves a national title.  However there is one major factor, in my opinion, that needs to be addressed for the players' desire for supremacy to be fulfilled.

The Cats did not get eliminated from the tourney because they were entirely overtmatched, or even outplayed, but rather because Oklahoma was too physical for Arizona to handle, in my opinion. Although Okalahoma is without last year's enforcer, Aaron McGhee, it can be expected that they will have someone else to fill the role and push the ‘Cats around should the two meet again come tourney time. In fact, in retrospect, the Arizona team rarely got outplayed or overmatched, but rather got pushed around by more physical teams when they did lose games last year. For the Wildcats to reach their goal of a title this year, they must have an enforcer of their own on the floor pushing, scrapping, and getting away with as much physical play as possible.

It's my take that Isaiah Fox is the man the ‘Cats should utilize in the role of The Enforcer. Every successful team in college, the NBA or even in club basketball has a guy who just scares you. The Pistons had Bill Laimbeer, the Lakers have Shaq, the Bulls had Dennis Rodman, so who on this team can be the man who strikes fear into opponents any better than Fox. He's tall, he's muscular and, if he really wants to, he can be very mean.

Last year when the ASU Sun Devils came to town and Kyle Dodd dropped punches on Luke Walton, an animal emerged from Isaiah Fox. Whether it was intentional or not, I saw Fox throw, and get away with, at least 3 elbows. I am not saying that the Cats should play dirty, or try to hurt other players, but it is necessary for the Wildcats to have an enforcer who is not afraid to push other people around. With the team planning on running a full-court press for much of the season, it is a necessity to have a big, mean player waiting at the end of the court should the other team break-through the press.

If Fox cannot "bring the pain" for whatever reason, someone on the team will have to step up. Ricky Anderson is a battler, and he could very well step up to be the physical factor for the group. My dear editor Brad shocked me today with his knowledge, and exposed a fact that I did not know: Ricky was tied for the team lead in rebounds last year. Ricky is tall, a leader, and should he have the inspiration, I'm sure has a streak of nastiness in him somewhere. Hopefully, someone will take on the role of the "tough, physical" guy that simply strikes fear into opponents and the ‘Cats will be the team doing the pushing and shoving this year.

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