clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Arizona basketball roundtable: On the Wildcats' defense, dunk contest and ASU predictions

Can the Wildcats put together enough defense in March to make a run?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

As the Arizona Wildcats were watching their lead over the USC Trojans dwindle on Sunday, it served as a not-so-gentle reminder that nothing for this team comes easy, even when it looks like they're well on their way to a blowout victory.

That led Sean Miller to wonder about his team's ability on defense after the game. We talk about that, the dunk contest, and predictions for rivalry week in this latest edition of our basketball roundtable!

Jason Bartel: Is there reason to believe that this team can play solid defense for 40 minutes in an NCAA Tournament game?

Alec Sills-Trausch: I think so. I hope so. Yes? Maybe? I mean the answer is yes because it always comes together for Sean Miller's squad and I will continue having the faith. Now that the team is mostly healthy - save for Chance Comanche's concussion - I feel people will settle into their roles and their conditioning will continue to improve. The biggest thing is getting back on D on a missed shot and not leaving guys open for threes (see USC game). The big test will be against Colorado and Utah, which play at a higher altitude. If the team can win those games, they finish up at home against Cal and Stanford before heading to Vegas.

James Schlittenhart: The sample size is now significant enough that legitimate conclusions about the ineptitude of this defense can be drawn. A Sean Miller-coached team is going to have to rely on the merits of their offense to make a deep run in the tournament. But, thankfully, the sample size on the other side of the ball is equally significant. Arizona is 21st and 13th in the nation in points scored and field goal percentage, respectively. While not eye-popping, those numbers have been good enough (and occasionally, great enough) to win games in an increasingly deep and parity-filled Pac-12. I don't know that any of us, regardless of our fandom, truly believe this is a team that should win a championship, but I would in no way be surprised to see this offense carry them to the Sweet 16 before their lack of defense scuttles the season.

Ryan Kelapire: For an entire 40 minutes? No. We haven't seen that happen all season. That said, they may not need to do that to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Given how good Arizona's offense has been this season, they don't need to play great defense for a full 40 minutes to win, though 30 or so may be necessary. They do need to limit turnovers though, as that not only makes their offense less effective, but hinders their already lackluster defense as well.

Gabe Encinas: No, not really. Although not every team in the tournament is going to be 40 minutes of solid defense as well. Depending on who Arizona draws based on the seeding, this could be an extremely early exit for Arizona.

David Potts: I doubt it. There are probably two "good" defenders on the team (Kadeem Allen and Kaleb Tarczewski), and there just isn't enough cohesion to play good team defense. That said, I think the Wildcats' best chance of winning comes if they can at least play active defense for forty minutes, closing out hard on shooters and rotating. They'll still give up points, but as long as the other team has to work a little for those points, I think Arizona will have a shot.

JB: Who's the next former Wildcat you want to see in the dunk contest?

AST: T.J. McConnell. Well, maybe not dunking, but Steve Nash was in it passing to Amare Stoudemire a few years back. I can see T.J. throwing it up to Nerlens Noel or another one of their insanely young players (Ben Simmons next year? Jk he's coming to the Suns!!)

JSGabe York. In reality, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

RK: Derrick Williams. Williams was not only an explosive dunker in college, but that's arguably his best skill in the NBA too. He can really throw it down.

GE: We've already seen Andre Iguodala, Chase Budinger and Derrick Williams, so we've been pretty spoiled with dunk contest participants. Rondae is a very good pick but I feel like if Nick Johnson can find a job he could make make some noise. All throughout the Summer League and his stint with the Rockets he was able to get to the rim and had some popular trending Vines. That would be a treat.

DP: I'll co-sign Gabe and say Nick Johnson. No Arizona player is going to top Aaron Gordon's performance for the foreseeable future, though. That was just a ridiculous display.

JB: Give me a score prediction and a prediction for what will be on a Bobby Hurley sign on Wednesday:

AST: 84-57 Arizona and my sign (feel free to use this anyone, but please but my twitter handle on it [@UofAlec] so I can hear the love and admiration from the ASU fans) "Bobby Hurley lasts as long in games as ASU students do in college."

JS: 79 - 63 Arizona. With the backdrop of Hurley sitting in a bathtub staring into the sunset: "Seek medical attention for Ejections lasting more than 4 hours"

RK: 88-64 Arizona. "Hurley blocks more Twitter users than his team blocks shots"

GE: 74-59 Arizona. Angry Bobby Hurley face will definitely have some sort of Kim Kardashian crying face or a Photoshop with him and a binky, something with him crying, for sure.

DP: 82-75 Arizona - I think the Wildcats win, but not as convincingly as I would like. I'd like to see a Cam'ron-influenced "you mad" sign directed at Hurley, but that reference is like a million Internet years old at this point, so it probably won't happen.