#50 Arizona: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #50
Conference Rank: #3 Pacific-10 Conference
2009-10: 16-15, 10-8
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Sean Miller (16-15 at Arizona, 136-62 overall)
Considering all of the turnover and uncertainty surrounding the Arizona program, Coach Sean Miller did a fine job rallying his troops and ending the 2009-2010 campaign with a winning record. Year two will be even better with the return of four starters and the maturation of what was, and still is, a pretty young team. With the inconsistency issues behind the Wildcats, this should be the start of another long NCAA Tournament appearance streak.
Key Losses: G Nic Wise
Coach Miller bolstered his backcourt for the most part with this class, but the key player should be junior college transfer Jesse Perry. The 6-7 forward is a versatile player who can bang in the paint or step outside and hit the long ball. Ideally, Perry is a small forward, but he has the ability to spend time at the four spot and Arizona will probably need him to do so at times. Daniel Bejarano leads the group on the perimeter that also includes Jordin Mayes and Robert Arvizu. Mayes may be the most important of the bunch as he will have to play some quality minutes as a backup point guard.
Kyle Fogg and Jamelle Horne will return to their starting spots on the wing. Fogg connected on 41.7 percent of his attempts from long range and is a solid all-around shooting guard. The 6-3 junior has developed his game to become more than just a shooter and he can attack the basket effectively. Horne is a superb athlete who can be very tough to defend. At 6-7 he has a lot of size for a player who led the team last year with 1.7 three-pointers per game. Not only does he hit a lot of long balls, but he connected on 43.5 percent of his attempts. If he can start using his size to score inside the arc more often, Horne will be a consistent double digit scorer. Kevin Parrom started nine games as a freshman and Brendon Lavender started eight as a sophomore. Those two will have to weather it out with the newcomers for minutes on the wings behind Fogg and Horne.
Derrick Williams led the Wildcats with 15.7 points and 7.1 rebounds during his freshman campaign. The 6-8, 240 pound forward was awarded with the conference’s Freshman of the Year honors for his impressive play. The Wildcats expect even better things from Williams with a year of experience under his belt. Williams is not really suited to play the five spot, at least on the defensive end of the floor. That caused some problems for Arizona last year. However, his agility worked in his favor on the other end of the court. Yet, if Williams can spend more time at the four spot and less at the five, it would be beneficial to the team. That is where Kyryl Natyazhko comes into the picture. The 6-10 sophomore is more of a true post player and is coming off of a decent freshman campaign and an impressive showing at the under-20 European Championships over the summer. He may not start, but Natyazhko should be able to fill in 25 minutes per game, especially when the team needs a defensive presence under the basket. Solomon Hill is the other frontcourt option and started 21 games last year. He is only 6-6, but Hill is a tough player and a smart player who can do a little bit of everything.
Who to Watch:
Lamont Jones is the key player for Arizona. The 6-0 sophomore played just 18.8 minutes per game as a freshman last year, but now he will have to become the leader on the floor. Replacing Nic Wise will not be an easy task, but Jones certainly does not lack in confidence and he will take on the role with a full head of steam. Whether or not he can slow down when he needs to is a whole other question.
Coach Miller has the depth to do something with this group. The frontcourt is full of weapons and options, something which was sorely lacking during the 2009-2010 campaign. This team can play big when they need to or play small and keep the more experienced players on the floor. The important thing is now they have a choice. Barring a collapse from Jones, there is more than enough talent for Arizona to return to their winning ways.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Lamont Jones, Sophomore, Guard, 6.6 ppg
Kyle Fogg, Junior, Guard, 11.1 ppg
Jamelle Horne, Senior, Forward, 9.4 ppg
Solomon Hill, Sophomore, Forward, 6.7 ppg
Derrick Williams, Sophomore, Forward, 15.7 ppg
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