2008 NCAA Tournament Capsule: Arizona
Pacific 10 (19-14, 8-10)
Big Wins: 12/19 at UNLV (52-49), 1/24 Washington State (76-64), 2/23 at Washington State (65-55)
Bad Losses: 11/17 Virginia (72-75), 2/10 Arizona State (54-59), 2/21 at Washington (66-75)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2007, First Round loss to Purdue
Coach: (interim) Kevin O’Neill (2-2 in 2 NCAA appearances)
Jerryd Bayless, Freshman, Guard, 20.0 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.7 rpg
Jawann McClellan, Senior, Guard, 8.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg
Jamelle Horne, Freshman, Forward, 3.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Chase Budinger, Sophomore, Forward, 17.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.9 apg
Jordan Hill, Sophomore, Forward, 13.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg
Nic Wise, Sophomore, Guard, 9.1 ppg, 4.5 apg
Daniel Dillon, Senior, Guard, 2.1 ppg, 1.3 apg
Bret Brielmaier, Senior, Forward, 2.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
No matter where you look, this is a good shooting team. The team as a whole shoots nearly 48 percent from the floor, led by forward Jordan Hill who eclipses the 60 percent mark. Behind the arc the numbers are just as impressive. Freshman point guard Jerryd Bayless, who averages 20.0 points per game, knocks down nearly 41 percent of his long ball attempts and Nic Wise hits on almost 48 percent. The sharpshooting continues at the charity stripe where the only player who sees significant time at the line and shoots under 70 percent is Jordan Hill.
This is a team that could have struggled since they had no choice but to put the ball in the hands of a freshman point guard. But Bayless has done more than just avoid being a liability; he has turned this team into a legitimate contender to make a run in March.
Why They Can Disappoint:
However, this is still a young team that will have to handle the high pressure of March and it remains to be seen if they can. And there are plenty of other reasons to count out the Wildcats. The team constantly gets outrebounded. Jordan Hill, a 6-10 sophomore, does all he can on the glass, but he does not get much help. Even worse than the rebounding concerns is the defense. In the Pac-10 it is understandable to give up 67 points per game, but Arizona allows the opposition to shoot almost 44 percent. Sure, the Wildcats shoot better than that, but if you keep getting beat on the glass, those extra possessions will come back to haunt you when the other team can get easy buckets.
Who To Watch:
Jerryd Bayless has been surprisingly consistent for a freshman, but he needs a couple other guys to help shoulder the scoring load. Usually that is Chase Budinger, but the super sophomore has disappeared on occasion. Even when those two are scoring, like the combined 54 points they scored in a 66-67 loss to Stanfod in February, somebody else better show up. It is not a good sign when two players score 54 of a team’s 66 points. If Jamelle Horne, Jawann McClellan, Hill and Wise are not contributing, or Bayless and Budinger are not sharing as the case often is, Arizona is in trouble.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.1 (112th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.7 (126, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.8 (27, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.9 (180, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (179, 4)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 39.0 (26, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.7 (21, 2)
Rebound Margin: -1.6 (233, 9)
Assists Per Game: 15.6 (46, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.2 (21, 2)
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