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Posted on: April 11, 2009 12:49 pm
 

Prediction of the season - a look back


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December 2, 2008 12:49 pm


My guess: 22-13

Arizona's 4-1 now. 

They'll knock off Gonzaga and lose to Houston, but also win against A&M.  That will make them 10-3. 

I see a 10-8 conference schedule, bringing them to a 20-11 overall record going into the Pac10 tourney, where they lose in round 2 to UCLA for the third time this season.

At 21-12, that gets them into the NCAA as an 8 seed, where they knock off the 9 only to get the 1 and an exit from the tourney.  The building under new head coach Mark Few begins.


Arizona went on to beat Gozaga and Houston, and lose to A&M by 1 in the last second.

They met ASU in the Pac 10 tourney and lost.  Pac 10 record: 9-10.

Arizona made the NCAA tourney as a 12 seed, where they made the Sweet 16 only to get blown out by overall #1 Louisville.

Sean Miller (Xavier) was chosen as head coach.  To date, Mark Few is still at Gonzaga.

Final record: 21-14.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Arizona, Wildcats
 
Posted on: February 1, 2009 1:22 pm
 

An Eval of the Cats - Mid-Term Grades

February 1, 2009 1:02 pm


At the start of the Pac 10 season, I posted this eval .  Let's see how things are progressing.

It's clear that some of the role players have not stepped up in practice to earn playing time:
  1. Lavender is probably my own biggest disappointment because he looked really good pre-season.
  2. From what I've read and heard I understand why Pennell is not playing Onabun as much...I think this will change as the season wears on.
  3. Garland Judkins was averaging about 17 minutes for the season, but much less over the last several games, so clearly he hasn't emerged from the doghouse he got himself in.

Lavender has been non-existent except in brief, spot roles.  The only guy on the team averaging fewer points is Shumpert (aka next year's Bagga).  Brendon got his mid-season tryout in the Houston game (10 minutes), made a free throw, grabbed a rebound and steal, and fouled someone.  Good thing he's from Arizona or he'd be a flight risk.  Maybe that's not a good thing.  Grade: D

Fendi is far and away my favorite player in terms of quality of character..he's this year's Mo Tangara.  He's also proof that the work ethic is still alive and well.  After Jacobson lost his mind with 3 fouls in one minute against Washington, Fendi moved into the spot behind Hill.  Grade: B+

Judkins is everything typical of a freshman who's getting limited minutes (averaging 13): trying to do too much with the ball, leaving his feet and then looking for the pass, etc.  He'll grow up, but that's going to take (playing) time.  Racking up 3 TO's in 10 minutes of game time don't help, though.  Grade: C

In other cases, things have turned out as expected:

  1. Horne has definitely proven to be the x-factor on the team, as well as a significant source of turnovers...I guess he fancies himself an NBA guard.
  2. Hill not only has a nice mid-range jumper, but has developed his left hand for shooting (though not blocking).  The game against UNLV exposed Hill's slow post move...I'd put this top of his list to develop.
  3. Budinger is team leader whether he wants to be or not, and it's clear the team looks to him for scoring...when he's lost or in a funk that can be a major weakness for Arizona.

Horne is definitely the x-factor, though not quite in the way I expected at least.  When he's on, he's a major lift for the team, rebounding above the rim, hitting a short jumper or throwing down a monster dunk.  When he's off, such as against WSU, he literally kills Arizona's momentum, making dumb fouls away from the basket, overdribbling and turning the ball over, or taking shots outside his range.  His 11 points, 5 assists, and 14 rebounds in the last three games are heavily offset by his 6 turnovers and 9 fouls.  Grade: C

Hill is star of the class.  To think how far he's come is mind-boggling.  He's now using both hands around the rim, has significantly improved his post move, and is playing himself straight into the NBA.  30 points and 18 rebounds against Houston?  Unreal.  He's averaging a double-double: 18 points and 12 boards.  Grade: A

Would the real Chase Budinger please stand up?  I think he did, thanks to a now infamous face-stomp (I still stand by my suggestion of planting a footprint on his pre-game jersey from here on out).  Team Leader Chase now appears to have arrived, and his resilience against WSU -- not giving up even when shots weren't falling -- demonstrated this.  If he keeps this up, he'll join Hill at the top of the class.  Grade: B-

Some are exceeding expectations:

  1. Fogg figured out very quickly (for a freshman) that defense wins games and earns playing time.  Now if he can just gain the confidence to take those open looks he gets...
  2. Jacobson has contributed minutes (9/game), presence (esp. the big line-up), and even a few rebounds.  Admittely, my expectation of him was so low that even playing is an accomplishment, but still...
  3. Wise is generally making good decisions, and it's abundantly clear how valuable his presence on the court is.  Add to that some significant scoring (15 ppg) and assists (5 apg) and he's certainly improved upon last season.  Now if only we could put in an electric fence to keep him away from the rim...

I'm sure the Pac 10 voters will pick Jrue Holiday or Isaiah Thomas as Freshman of the Year, but in my book it has to be Kyle Fogg.  Three straight games with double-digit points -- including 15 of 16 free throw shooting -- and 9 rebounds (for a 6-2 guard).  Looks like he found that confidence.  Now to improve that Assist/TO ratio...  Grade: B+

Alex Jacobson.  Ajax.  As in please scrub any memory of this guy.  His jersey number shouldn't be 50, it should be 0, because that's what he contributes.  He's the only player on the team whose stats actually go up when he sits.  The line I'd like to see for him the rest of the season: Did Not Play.  Grade: F

Nic Wise is a split personality of remarkable athletic talent and glaring lack of self-awareness wrapped in a Napoleon complex with a veneer of brilliance and toughness.  If that sounds like a mixed compliment, it is.  As Wise goes, generally so too does Arizona.  When he overpenetrates, opponents surround him, take the ball away, and storm downcourt (see Oregon, USC, Houston).  When he works the perimeter passing, Chase and Zane and Kyle and Nic himself get open looks or lanes to slash to the basket (see USC, Washington).  Lines such as against Washington -- with 29 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals -- show just what Wise is capable of doing.  Unfortunately, so does the ASU game -- 6 points, 1 assist, and fouled out.  Some games Nic has me longing for the return of Jason Gardner, other times I think it's the second coming.  Grade: B-

Extra Credit: Zane Johnson.  Maybe he'll never be Steve Kerr, but his contributions couldn't have come at a better time.

MID-TERM GRADE(14-8 Overall, 4-5 Pac-10): B-

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Arizona, Wildcats
 
Posted on: February 1, 2009 1:19 pm
 

An Eval of the Cats - Two Months In (3 Jan 2009)

January 3, 2009 1:17 pm


Thought I'd re-post my commentary from the Red/Blue Scrimmage (1 Nov) to see how things have changed (or not) in two months

It's clear that some of the role players have not stepped up in practice to earn playing time:

  1. Lavender is probably my own biggest disappointment because he looked really good pre-season.
  2. From what I've read and heard I understand why Pennell is not playing Onabun as much...I think this will change as the season wears on.
  3. Garland Judkins was averaging about 17 minutes for the season, but much less over the last several games, so clearly he hasn't emerged from the doghouse he got himself in.
In other cases, things have turned out as expected:
  1. Horne has definitely proven to be the x-factor on the team, as well as a significant source of turnovers...I guess he fancies himself an NBA guard.
  2. Hill not only has a nice mid-range jumper, but has developed his left hand for shooting (though not blocking).  The game against UNLV exposed Hill's slow post move...I'd put this top of his list to develop.
  3. Budinger is team leader whether he wants to be or not, and it's clear the team looks to him for scoring...when he's lost or in a funk that can be a major weakness for Arizona.
Some are exceeding expectations:
  1. Fogg figured out very quickly (for a freshman) that defense wins games and earns playing time.  Now if he can just gain the confidence to take those open looks he gets...
  2. Jacobson has contributed minutes (9/game), presence (esp. the big line-up), and even a few rebounds.  Admittely, my expectation of him was so low that even playing is an accomplishment, but still...
  3. Wise is generally making good decisions, and it's abundantly clear how valuable his presence on the court is.  Add to that some significant scoring (15 ppg) and assists (5 apg) and he's certainly improved upon last season.  Now if only we could put in an electric fence to keep him away from the rim...
While I'm disappointed (though not surprised) that the Cats fell to Cal last night, up until about 6 minutes left in the game the team showed considerable improvement from what I saw at McKale at the beginning of November.  I'm encouraged.  Go Cats!

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Arizona, Wildcats
 
Posted on: February 1, 2009 1:16 pm
 

Red/Blue Wrap-Up (1 Nov 2008)

November 1, 2008 9:34 pm
Some quick takes after just having returned from the Red/Blue Scrimmage...

Returning players

  • Jordan Hill: appears to be in very good shape, and has worked on his mid-range jumper; still does not have a good, quick post-up move and was fenced in several times when he hesitated to take it to the rim.
  • Chase Budinger: has really stepped it up and looks and acts like the team leader, made some nice outside jumpers, and looks to be very fit; still has that tendency to get lost on the offensive end and get stuck behind defenders.
  • Fendi Onabun: must be bench-pressing small European cars now with those guns, can get up remarkably well, and was a reliable free-throw shooter; is still trying to find that mid-range jumper and stay out of foul trouble (I think he had 6 by half-time).
  • Jamelle Horne: as I predicted, looks to be the breakout player this season, with fantastic athleticism (he's in tiptop shape), sweet outside stroke, and fearlessness at the rim; tries to do too much with the ball and really doesn't have a guard's handle (yet).
  • Nic Wise: did not play...he had a soft cast on his left ankle that looked like sprain protection; his absence on point was noticeable (see below).
New faces
  • Brendon Lavender: my favorite new guy...has heart, talent, and its clear the upperclassmen like and respect him, has a really good range, is rock solid on free throws, can handle the ball well, and fly with the other freaks of nature.
  • Kyle Fogg: a serious outside threat when he warms up, he drilled two straight 3's and looked like he could do it all day; unfortunately, after the second he ran to the other end of the court and committed a dumb foul...he also shows the perpetual Arizona guard habit of overdribbling and overpenetrating before giving the ball up.
  • Zane Johnson (I know, but he played last year for like 3 minutes ): seems to be proving he has a solid outside shot as he hit several, and appears to be in the best shape of all the underclassmen; committed some fouls that made even the fans groan.
  • Garland Judkins: contributed significantly to the game with points and passes, I think he's going to get some decent playing time this season; same overdribble overpass tendency as Fogg, with a lot of giveaways.
  • Kirk Walters...I mean Alex Jacobson:  seriously, he even had Kirk's boy-man facial hair, however he also has Kirk's junior year build and more hops; Hill had fun pushing Jacobson around, which hopefully means the Center-in-progress will be presentable by season's end.
I'm actually excited about this year...we can all set our expectations super low and then be pleasantly surprised when the team pulls it together about 5 games into the Pac 10 schedule.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Arizona, Wildcats
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com