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‘Tough’ Stone Gettings hitting his stride, busting zones for Arizona

stone-gettings-arizona-wildcats-college-basketball-concussion-penn-cornell-rebounding-injury-2020 Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

One day in the fictional underwater city of Bikini Bottom, SpongeBob and Sandy Cheeks were waiting in line at the Salty Spitoon, the new popular sailor club in town. They hoped to peek inside and see what all the fuss was about.

But as they approached the entrance, they were stopped by the bouncer.

You see, in order to enter the Salty Spitoon, you have to prove you are tough. So tough that, as one ridiculously muscular fish put it, “only the baddest of the bad can get in.”

Don’t fit the bill? Too bad. You get exiled to the club across the street, Weenie Hut Jr’s. (Or, for the extra weak, Super Weenie Hut Jr’s.)

On the surface, Arizona senior Stone Gettings doesn’t have the credentials of someone who’d be welcome in the Salty Spitoon. He grew up in beachy Malibu, graduated from an Ivy League school, and does his best work away from the basket unlike a traditional power forward.

“You’d say, ‘man he’s really a smart kid, great kid, skilled basketball player but how tough is he?”’ said Arizona coach Sean Miller.

Tough enough that the bouncer would not dare send Gettings to Weenie Hut Jr’s.

“He’s one of our toughest guys,” Miller said.

For proof, just look at the way Gettings is playing his best basketball at a point of the season when many players start succumbing to fatigue.

Over his last six games, he is averaging 10.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 24.2 minutes per game, almost doubling his season averages. Arizona has won five of those games, making a late push to the top of the Pac-12 standings.

“Sometimes you see guys near the end of the year start to look at practice differently, start to see their body wear down,” Miller said. “Stone benched 185 almost 20 times, he won the mile, loves the game, but he’s tough. He rebounds the ball and he defends, he cares and he’s been just a great asset to this year’s team.”

For one thing, Gettings is one of the few players who consistently makes shots. The Wildcats are shooting 27% from 3 over their last seven games, but Gettings is shooting 43% during that span. He is also shooting 54% on mid-range jumpers this season, per hoop-math.com,

His ability to shoot and pass from the high post has been a valuable weapon against zone defenses like the 1-3-1 zone Arizona will see Thursday against Oregon State.

The Wildcats struggled the first time they played the Beavers, shooting under 40 percent from the field, but that was before Gettings was moved into the starting lineup, where he has seen his shooting and rebounding percentages spike.

“We’re more comfortable against the zone right now,” Miller said. “We’ve played well against a variety zone defenses this year, and I think Stone Gettings is a different player in a different role right now than the last time that we played Oregon State, and he helps us immensely against the zone because he’s a threat scoring, passing, shooting from 2, shooting from 3. He’s also a very good offensive rebounder and he’s done a good job in a lot of ways, but especially attacking zone defenses.”

Maybe it would have happened sooner if Gettings’ Arizona career wasn’t slowed by a nasty facial fracture and concussion that sidelined him for the entire month of December. But he battled back from it and has not missed a single practice since—again, another sign of his toughness.

“It’s one of the things that I admire most about him, that he works incredibly hard at the game,” Miller said. “... When he worked his way through the facial fracture and concussion, we really missed him. ... We had some big games of our non-conference in those in that month and if you look at his role now, we could have certainly used him but just watching how he handled that, his leadership, he’s got a lot of gas left in the tank.”

To the point Miller envisions Gettings going pro one day, even though he is on track to graduate this spring with a master’s degree in accounting and has already interned with a hedge fund manager for a couple summers.

“All As, that’s a good story, and he’s gonna finish his graduate program and no doubt go on to do a lot of different things in life,” Miller said. “But I really believe Stone has a future beyond Arizona playing this game too. He’s really a unique player.”