The Arizona Wildcats’ exhibition season has come to an end, with the team picking up a 51-point win over the College of Idaho and a nail-biting eight-point win over Chico State.
Unsurprisingly, given how early we are into the season, UA head coach Sean Miller called the Wildcats a “work in progress.”
One area that is especially true? 3-point shooting.
Including the Red-Blue game and the two exhibitions, Arizona has shot just 8-for-44 (18%) from behind the arc in the preseason.
Take away Lauri Markkanen’s shooting numbers (5-for-9), and the Wildcats would be just 3-35 (9%) from 3-point range as a team.
Arizona’s newcomers of Rawle Alkins, Keanu Pinder, Kobi Simmons have combined to shoot 1-for-16 from 3, while returners Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright are just 2-for-13.
Miller said his team’s shooting — or lack there of — is one of many areas he’s concerned about, but he also believes it will improve over time.
“It’s tough to judge us right now because we have a lot of guys that haven’t really shot college 3s.” he said after the 78-70 win versus Chico State. “Like Lauri, you can see he can really shoot it. If you watched him in our first game, he might not have looked as comfortable. So everyday that we go by, I think we’ll get more and more comfortable.”
While that is true for Alkins’ and Simmons’ sake, as they’re adjusting to the collegiate 3-point line for the first time, it’s not necessarily true for Markkanen, who has extensive experience playing with the FIBA 3-point line, and it’s certainly not true for Allen and Jackson-Cartwright.
The Wildcats undoubtedly will improve from the perimeter (they’re not going to shoot 18 percent from 3 in a season), and Markkanen (given what we’ve seen and his history as a player) will be fine, and so should Jackson-Cartwright who’s a career 38 percent shooter, but the others we can’t be so sure.
Allen did shoot 36 percent from 3 as a junior, but that was also with him taking averaging just 1.5 attempt per game. Alkins and Simmons still have a lot to prove, and Pinder doesn’t look to shoot from the perimeter. Chance Comanche and Dusan Ristic won’t shoot many 3s either.
Essentially, that means there are two proven shooters on the roster (not including Allonzo Trier, who would be a third if/when he returns), and so it’s fair to be skeptical about Arizona’s potential on the perimeter.
In the meantime, the Wildcats will look to fix other issues, and hope the 3s start to drop.
“We just have to give more effort on rebounding, more effort on defense,” Allen said. “And I feel with that, shots will start falling and we’ll be where we want to be.”
Arizona returns to action Friday when it officially opens its season against Michigan State in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. MST and the game will be televised on ESPN.
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