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Arizona's Lack of Three Point Defense

Arizona Alum Dan Forde asked the question yesterday: How about defending the three point shot? Let's take a look at Arizona and how they have played over the last couple of weeks and dive deeper in what happened on their wins and losses:

1-31-09 Washington State Win 9-26 (34.6%)
2-5-09 Oregon State Win 8-22 (36.4%)
2-7-99 Oregon Win 12-30 (40%)
2-12-09 USC Win 10-17 (58.8%)
2-14-09 UCLA Win 9-25 (36%)
2-22-09 Arizona State Loss 13-30 (43%)
2-26-09 Washington State Loss 9-22 (40.9%)
2-28-09 Washington Loss 6-15 (40%)
3-5-09 California Loss 16-30 (53.3%)
3-7-09 Stanford Win 15-33 (45.5%)

For the season, the Cats opponents shot 35.6% on three pointers. In their four game losing streak, the Cats gave allowed their opponents to shoot 44-97 (45.4%). During their six wins above, the Cats only allowed their opponents to shoot 54-128 (42.2%). Based on their season average, the Cats are not doing their job defending the three pointer in the last 10 games, winning or losing. Allowing a team to shoot 42.2% is not as bad as 45.5%, but it's not good either.

So why did Arizona win six of those games? Well, one of them was against Oregon, who still lit up Arizona for 40% beyond the arc. The others? Good defense against Washington State on January 31. We held Oregon State in check on February 2. USC was lucky. Nic hit a three pointer with :43 to seal that one. UCLA was held in check. Stanford? We scored 101 points. Anyone would win a game where you score that much.

As this article here displays, Arizona is having great difficulty breaking through screens to defend the three point shot. Arizona players continue to be screened and continue to step behind the screens instead of in front of them. It is unbelievable to me that we are having this much trouble guarding the perimeter. Not every team has the luxury of Jordan Hill sitting on their block. Why do we continue to double team guys that Jordan is covering? Let the man play defense by himself and stick to your guy. Last I checked, we didn't get beat by a center making 50% of his jump shots. We are getting killed on the outside and something has got to stop before this guy gets us on Thursday:


How about the Cats implement a 1-1-3 zone with Nic on the point, Kyle at the FT line, and Jordan, Chase and Zane/Jamelle on the baseline?


The idea behind the 1-1-3 zone is to have your guard force their point guard to one side of the court and a simultaneous shift occurs for your second man on the free throw line, which would be Kyle Fogg. He rotates towards the first pass and Jordan, Chase and Zane/Jamelle all rotate in kind. This type of zone would benefit the Cats because of Nic's height disadvantage and the incredible reach of Chase Budinger and Zane/Jamelle rotating to the open men. I would like to see something like this implemented for the next game. Jordan has got to hold his own against Pendergraph to allow the others to concentrate on their zones/men.

If there is one thing that has not hurt the Cats in the last 10 games, it has been cutters or 10-12 ft jumpshots. Fast breaks and three pointers seem to be doing the trick just fine. With Jamelle and Chase's lanky arms, I am not sure how anyone would be able to get a good look implementing some sort of 1-1-3 or 2-3 extended zone. If we decide to play man to man, we cannot double too early and definitely don't need to double on Jordan Hill's man.

It's time for Russ Pennell to address the problem and make the necessary changes. I am not sure how he has been practicing this week for Arizona State, but they have two guys who can light it up from outside (Kuksiks and Harden) and more who lit us up when we went to Tempe (Glasser and McMilan). I also think that it is time to ditch the press. We only have a 6 man team and there is no need to gas our players in a press, which ASU has seen twice and has beat consistently twice, when your guys don't even have enough energy to break through a screen on defense.