A View From the Zoo: Living and Dying by the 3

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Derrick Williams #23 of the Arizona Wildcats shoots a three-pointer against the Oregon State Beavers in the second half in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Throughout this season, Arizona has showed, at least percentage wise, to be one of the best outside shooting teams in the country.  On the season, the Wildcats are shooting a clip above 40 percent which ranks them ninth in the nation and second best among the power six conferences (only Ohio State is ranked higher). 

 What makes this ability to make shots from behind the arc so important is the fact that most teams are double and triple teaming likely All-American Derrick Williams.  When a team brings an extra man or two, it leaves their man unguarded on the perimeter which means a catch and shoot is easily achievable. 

On the season, Arizona has four players shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc, with a minimum of ten attempts.  Those players include the aforementioned Derrick Williams, Kevin Parrom, Jamelle Horne, and Jordin Mayes.


It is no coincidence that Arizona is having the season they are as well as the player’s ability to make it from three-point range. When the Wildcats are able to make the long ball, they are one of the best teams in the country because either one, Derrick Williams will not be double teamed and able to attack his defender or two, he will be double teamed and UA will burn teams from behind the arc. In Arizona's 26 win's, they shot 42 percent from behind the arc, which shows Williams' ability to pass out of the post.   

However, when the ball is not going through the net, Arizona becomes a very, very vulnerable team.  The problem with UA is they lack a guard with the ability to drive and dish.  Which means the only opportunity they will have at an open three is when Williams attracts the extra defender. 

In the Wildcats six losses, they have gone 37 for 122 behind the arc, or a 30 percent average.  The lack of three-point shooting was readily apparent in the Wildcats trip to USC and UCLA.  Both games were losses, and both games they shot under 32 percent. In total on the road trip, UA only made 10 three pointers in 27 attempts for a 26 percent average.

On the season, Arizona has averaged a tad below eight three's a game.  But when those three's do not go in, Arizona becomes one dimensional and not the quality of team that won the Pacific-10 conference title.   

If U of A finds its stroke in the NCAA tournament, the rest of the country better take notice.  Once this team gets going they will be one of the best teams in the field and a legitimate threat to win the National Championship.

On the flip side, if this team comes out like they did on their Los Angeles road trip, any team in the field of 68 will have the ability to beat them. 

So when you are watching the Wildcats, keep up to date on how their three point shooting is, because how that goes, goes the Cats.

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