You can cross that one off the list.
We can remove one goal from the Arizona Men’s Basketball 2010 wish list. This team will not be backing into our 12th Pac-10 championship (and 24th overall conference title). I don’t know what’s less likely, Arizona winning five straight or Cal losing twice, but neither is looking good.
But who wants a cheap championship anyway?
(Oh, that’s right, me. All championships count. Like we would have complained if the football team had gone to the Rose Bowl after a four-way tie for first.)
We had hoped the Cats could match the 6-3 record they posted in the first half of the conference season but right now we’re working on 3-6. We’ve completed four rematches and so far the Cats have one sweep, one split and two swept. That’s a recipe for 9-9.
So now we rewind our mindset back to where it was after the first time we played the Oregon schools, back when there was a real fear this team could end up in last place. The UA focus is no longer on the standings or scoreboard watching. The goal is back to getting better and re-peaking on Mar. 10.
Saturday’s game proved one thing: the loss at Oregon State is no longer the worst one.
OSU has five Pac-10 wins and four of them are against Oregon and Arizona. The Wildcats account for 18% of the Beavers’ total wins.
It’s tough to play contrasting styles so close together. OSU plays zone defense, and Oregon plays no defense.
After watching the second-half dunkfest against Oregon it was painful to watch the UA’s repeated attempts to shoot over the OSU zone or stop its deliberate, cut-heavy offense. When the Beavers have the ball they definitely make the students do a lot more “Boing boing” and “Pass!”
The Wildcats only scored 20 points in the first half. The football team scored 23 in a half against the Beavers this year.
As much as we blame the freshmen for this team’s inconsistency it’s the experienced guys who need to step it up. The UA rookies are asked to defend, rebound and make plays in the lane. It’s up to Nic Wise, Kyle Fogg and Jamelle Horne to do the outside shooting.
During the four-game winning streak Wise/Fogg/Horne combined to shoot 42% from deep. During this three-out-of-four losing stretch they’re only shooting a combined 27%. Fogg has had the worst of it the last two weeks as he’s only hitting 18% of his shots from behind the arc. Who knew the Tucson Fogg could be colder than the San Francisco fog?
It’s not a surprise that during the 12-2 run that temporarily eliminated Oregon State’s ten-point lead both Wise and Fogg hit a three. If those two guys don’t hit shots, shots are not going to get hit for this team.
Horne at least has the excuse that he was busy rebounding against the Beavers. It’s hard to average 7.5 boards over two games when you only get one in the first game.
Now the attention turns to the ASU game on Sunday and, believe me, the Cats certainly have the Devils’ attention. You don’t lose to your rival by 19 at home without being extra motivated for the return visit.
This is going to be ASU’s best and most focused week of practice. I wouldn’t be surprised if Herb Sendek brought out tackling dummies with Kevin Parrom’s picture on them.
The first time we met the Devils they were alone in first place. This time around they’re by themselves in second just a game off the pace. And Arizona is back in the spoiler role.
Speaking of Arizona State and spoilers, during the Arizona/Oregon game they flashed a graphic showing that Tajuan Porter was now tied for the second-most made three-pointers in Pac-10 history. The player he tied? None other than ASU’s Stevin “Hedake” Smith, point-shaver extraordinaire. If you’re ASU aren’t you rooting for guys to push Hedake further down the list?
For the record Salim Stoudamire holds the record and Jason Gardner is fourth. They chose to make baskets instead of bets.
Oh yeah, it’s Rivalry Week again.