The Arizona Wildcats played a couple of games that were closer than anticipated against the Washington schools this past weekend, which seemed confusing after such a dominating performance against the UCLA Bruins last Saturday.
So what was the most concerning part of the week? Or are we concerned at all? Let’s talk about that in the first of this week’s roundtables:
Alec Sills-Trausch: Sean Miller harped on it but it’s definitely the effort (on defense). Washington State had no trouble getting the ball inside, and we’ve written about it here, that the interior defense may be the weak link at the moment. I wasn’t able to watch the Washington game, but from what I read, the effort was still an issue. Plus, allowing all five of the Huskies starters to score in double figures is disappointing.
Ryan Kelapire: That such a small team was able to outscore Arizona by 14 points in the paint and track down 18 offensive rebounds. The latter especially is what will lead you to lose a game or two. Because even if your defense is consistently forcing tough shots (which Arizona’s does), it doesn’t matter if they’re unable to close out possessions.
David Potts: Is it weird that I’m not that worried? Both games felt close, to be sure, and Arizona had to pull away from both of these teams in the second half. But as Sean Miller pointed out, the Wildcats are going to get the best possible effort from each team they face. That is going to mean that some games are going to feel close early on, even if the odds of losing aren’t that low. Per KenPom, Arizona’s chances of winning that Washington State game never dipped below 95%. And against Washington, Arizona’s chances of winning never fell below 80%. Neither game was in significant doubt, even if it felt that way with 18 minutes to go.
My biggest worry, I guess, is that the team or Sean Miller will read something more into these games than they should. I’d rather not make unnecessary changes to fix problems that are better explained by the randomness of college basketball.
Jason Bartel: It was a bizarre week around college basketball, so maybe Arizona was just trying to join in on that fun, but I still believe it’s interior defense, like Alec referenced above. Sure, it’s concerning that the effort wasn’t there and that the team kind of played down to the level of its opponents. But moving forward, if the Wildcats run into a team with a solid big man that doesn’t tire out, things are gonna get hairy quick. And nothing from this week convinced me otherwise.