The lingering unanswered question appears to be, is the Arizona program back? Has the rudderless program found direction? Did Livengood screw the pooch one last time on his way out of town?
Those questions appeared to have been answered. This is not you classic Lute Olson juggernaut of a club circa 1999 or some such, this looks more like a 1985 version where pieces still have edges and players are still finding untapped levels of potential. Still, this team is showing a resiliency that is well worth applauding as the DWill and the "Hole in the Hardwood" Gang keep finding ways to bury their opponents.
Last night they faced down a determined bunch in Tempe, led by a group of seniors that had pretty much helped the folks in Tempe believe that they could also revive the halcyon days of Ned Wulk before the Pac 10 came calling. The Devils squad has been battered all year and while the scoreboard hadn't reflected their efforts they have continued to play tough throughout the season. If a postseason tourney wasn't in the cards, then sticking a spanner in the wheels of the Cats march to a season title would have been a feel good consolation prize. Alas, it was not to be.
This was the latest attempt of coaches believing that if you contain Derrick Williams, you can control the Cats. The Cats continue to show, that the sum is somewhat more than its parts. This time, the dagger holder was Kyle Fogg who found himself so open that he simply couldn't help himself but pump in 26 points. This was another one of those potential trap games. Would Kevin Parrom or Lamont Jones take their scoring prowess from the Cal game and treat the duel as an expected continuation of theor offensive games. Apparently not, as the team concept won out again. Jones shots weren't falling but Kyle's touch had been rediscovered and like any team does, they fed the hot hand. This team doesn't appear to be hung up on stats, more on results and as such, the hot hand gets fed, regardless of who has it.
The Devils played inspired D as they held the Cats to 40% from the floor, unfortunately, that same percentage applied to the 3pt shooting as well as Fogg tallied six triples from outside the arc. The big men did the necessary by banging the boards and keeping the opportunities alive which in part allowed Derrick Williams and Jesse Perry to reach double figures. The Cats also continued to use their free throws to their best advantage by going 18 for 21 at the line. It appears that this strategy of playing zone and preventing Williams from getting any touches is still the best way to attack the Cats, at least until they determine who has the hot hand from the outside. Once that handis found, the Cats have shown themselves adept as riding that teammate as long as it takes to get results.
The Devils have had a tough year, Their seniors have shown few glimpses of last year's 20 win season but it does appear that the prospects for next year may be somewhat different with the likelihood that Sendek may remake his team to better suit the athletes that he has on hand. I could see a more uptempo Devils squad with Jahii Carson running the point and using the athletes on the team like Lockett, Felix, King and Cain to become more of a headache athletically for other teams. I'll also say that Bachynski doesn't appear to be a stiff and has shown good instincts when he's been on the floor but it would be a mistake to model the team around him.
Inside the Box Score
The Cats were led by Kyle Fogg's 26 points as he was 6 for 9 from 3pt land. Kevin Parrom had 8 boards in 19 minutes work and Lamont Jones led the team with 6 assists. Derrick Williams fouled out late in the game, with all five fouls being committed in the 2nd half. the staff will have to walk that fine line of tempering Williams frustrations with the special defenses thrown at him and still harnessing his aggressiveness in the game.