After the Arizona Wildcats sputtered at the end of another close game, there was a lot of speculation about what should change in those situations.
So we try to figure that out, as well as take a look at the home winning streak, and if the Oregon Ducks have the best chance at ending it this week.
Jason Bartel: Who should be taking the last shot in win-or-lose situations?
David Potts: I don't know if he should necessarily take the last shot, but the ball should be in Kadeem Allen's hands. With Allonzo Trier out, Allen is the Wildcats' best chance at getting into the lane. From there, Allen doesn't even have to necessarily finish - he just has to collapse the defense and find the open man. I trust Allen to do that, and I can't say the same for the rest of the team.
Brandon Hill: I agree Kadeem Allen should have the ball in his hands late. I'm a big Gabe York fan and while he shows flashes of an impressive handle, far too often he either turns the ball over or fumbles and recovers for a high difficulty runner or shoddy pass late in the shot clock, as we saw on the final possession versus Cal. York is not a facilitator, so when he has it he's looking to shoot and the margin was only one so a three or perimeter two wasn't necessary. With Allen, you get a triple threat opportunity, particularly for the drive and dish. And Allen has shown an impressive propensity to finish with his left which opens up even more options.
Matt Sheeley: This team is too well-rounded to say that the ball belongs in one guy's hands. In regards to the specific play, or lack of a play, that was called against Cal, I agree with the guys above me. If a guy needs to drive at the end of a game, it should be Kadeem Allen. But I believe that Arizona's point guards have too good of vision, Gabe York is too good of a spot up shooter and the Wildcats have too many capable bigs to put the ball in one guy's hands to win or lose. Some may see this as a weakness, that Arizona doesn't have a go-to guy for a final bucket. And you can argue that that's what has kept Arizona from breaking through the glass ceiling these last couple years. But it CAN be a strength...as long as effective plays are called in that situation.
Gabe Encinas: I'm going to stick with Gabe York. Kadeem Allen is next in line, but I feel like York is the one we all look to when Arizona needs to get out of a slump, so when Arizona's in crunch time, I'd count on my senior shooting guard to make the shot.
Alec Sills-Trausch: This is going to sound crazy but I think it needs to go into the post. Either to Ryan Anderson or Kaleb Tarczewski, but mostly Anderson and let the team cut off of his actions. This gives us at a minimum, a high chance of drawing a foul and even better opportunities to find our shooters for an open shot or gives the slashers the ability to lose their man on the way to the hoop.
Ryan Kelapire: When everyone is healthy, i'd give the nod to Allonzo Trier since I think he has the most diverse offensive game on the team. But since he's not healthy, then I give the nod to Kadeem Allen. He's very effective at getting to the rim and from there he can either find an open man or try to finish himself. York is obviously a good scorer, but I just don't think he's the best on the team at creating his own shot.
Heck, I would probably prefer Dusan Ristic getting the final shot over York. He is absolutely money from the low block.
JB: What's more ridiculous? 49 straight home wins or the last 16 losses being by a combined 48 points?
DP: They're both pretty ridiculous, but I'll take the 49 straight home wins. The math underlying that streak is insane. Even if the Wildcats were 95% to win each of those games, they still would win 49 in a row only 8% of the time. To me, that makes the home winning streak more impressive.
BH: Most of us are aware of the home streak but I for one hadn't seen the stat on all those close losses. So both are ridiculous in their own way. Any long winning streak, home or otherwise, is impressive because it requires both consistency and good fortune. Every team wants to break that streak and it creates an enormous bullseye. Some good teams have come into McKale during that time too, both in and out of conference play. On the negative side, the latter stat shows that Arizona often has a tough time pulling out close games. We've seen it this season: four losses (all to current RPI top 50 teams) by a total of 10 points, or two and a half points per game on average. The 16 losses are by three points on average. So it's an acute and chronic problem. One of the things that separates championship (or even just Final Four in Sean Miller's case) teams from merely "good" teams is often the ability to win close games.
MS: I have to go with the losses. Maybe I'm numb to the home winning streak because there hasn't been a game that I expected Arizona to lose at home during the streak and the teams over the last few years have been so good. But that stat on the losses is both painful and ridiculous. I'd have to echo Brandon's sentiments. It's amazing to see the number of close losses Arizona has suffered and it's that characteristic, that lack of being able to finish in a close game, that separates Final Four teams from the pack.
GE: I'm going to go with the combined 48 points in the losses. Over the last three years, the Pac-12 hasn't had a great team to really challenge them at home. Utah is the closest threat in that span and Arizona has owned them. Sure, it's college basketball and teams are capable of losing all the time, but I just think with the energy at McKale Center, along with the separation in talent between Arizona and the Pac-12, it's hard for me to imagine Arizona losing at home. Oregon and Gonzaga were great games last season, and the closest Arizona had ever been to losing at home in that span. But when you consider the road losses and the slim margin of defeat, that just shows you how great of a basketball program Arizona is all-around.
AST: Going with the losses. It's not "easy" to win 49 straight home games, but it's obviously been done before by other schools. However, losing by an average of three points per loss shows how competitive this team is. Plus, we can all agree that basically every time Arizona loses, it takes the opponent's BEST effort and usually a very subpar effort from the Cats. So knowing that it takes an all-worldy performance to beat a lackluster U of A team gives you the sense of just how good this team is and can be. Maybe we'll see everything put together in March *fingers crossed.*
RK: I'm not sure. I tend to think that winning 49 straight at home is more ridiculous. When you're a good team playing in a conference that hasn't been that great recently, the games you do lose are going to be only by a few points, and that's exactly what has happened to Arizona. But that being said, not many of Arizona's 49 home wins have been against top-tier teams. The best win was the one against Gonzaga -- which was a very solid win -- but it's hard to think of which one is second. So honestly, both are impressive, but I wouldn't say either is that ridiculous so to speak.
JB: Is Oregon the only team remaining that can win a game in McKale?
DP: I wouldn't go that far. I think they're the team most likely to pull off a win in McKale, but USC probably has about a 25% shot at knocking off the Wildcats at home, and Cal is probably in the same ballpark. I still think Arizona will have a difficult time winning all of their remaining home games this season, but if they get past Oregon, it'll be a lot easier to keep the streak going for the rest of the year.
BH: I agree with David on all points. Can't really take anything for granted. Even UCLA, puzzlingly inconsistent, has some big-time players who could step up so you never know. I think both SoCal schools are dangerous and even ASU, who's clearly down (1-6 in Pac-12 right now), would like nothing more than to break the streak, plus the Cats play them as the third game in a five-day stretch (after UCLA/USC) which will be tough. But to the original question, I do think Oregon is the toughest challenge coming to town. But even when the streak is eventually broken, at least we won't have to worry about fans storming the court.
MS: The Pac-12 has been such a crapshoot, I really can't rule anything out. A lot of talented teams still have a date at McKale left. But I do think Oregon has the best chance. They're the most well-coached team that has a Tucson trip remaining.
GE: The way this Pac-12 season has played out, I'd be shocked if Arizona kept the home record alive throughout the remainder of this season. There's just too many, in my mind, above average teams this year that have the potential to knock off Arizona. USC, UCLA, California, all have a pretty good shot at knocking off the Cats.
AST: I'd like to say yes, but who the heck knows what is going happen. I think that Arizona is too good on the home court to fall. Plus, KenPom.com predicts us to win the rest of our games, with our most unlikely victory coming at Utah on February 27th. I'd keep your eye out for either California or ASU (because crazier things have happened in that rivalry) but I'll put my money on another undefeated home slate!
RK: Oregon is one of the teams that could win in McKale, but not the only one. I think a team like USC, UCLA, or Cal could if the circumstances were right. That said, I expect Arizona to win all its remaining home games.