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One thing Sevval Gül can improve in sophomore season with Arizona women’s basketball

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 5 Women’s North Dakota at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On June 17, the NCAA voted to allow basketball programs to begin required activites with coaches starting on July 20. Activities can continue for up to eight weeks, ending either on the first day of classes or Sept. 15, whichever is first. The NCAA had already voted to allow voluntary weight training and conditioning at team facilities, which will continue through July 19.

The Arizona Wildcats women’s basketball team has some additional hurdles to clear if all the players are going to be in Tucson by the middle of July. The large international contingent kept the entire freshman class from arriving in time for summer work last season. At that time, the roadblock was international competition.

This year, the novel coronavirus has created new barriers in the form of travel bans into the U.S. Arizona not only returns five international players from last year’s team, but the Wildcats also add two in this year’s class. The program has players from Canada, Spain, Latvia and Turkey on the roster.

Since basketball was shut down in March, the players, coaches and support personnel have been meeting virtually. Players have been doing their best to keep in shape on their own. The ability to engage in conditioning has varied considerably, though. Adia Barnes said that some of the players in Europe were not even allowed to leave their apartments at one point.

After conditioning is addressed, players and coaches can think about improvements that need to be made. What does each player need to improve on?

We are taking a look at the returners to discuss the biggest areas of improvement they need to address. Links to the previous installments of this series can be found at the bottom.

Next up is Sevval Gül.

Fouls, fouls, fouls

Sevval Gül didn’t play enough to rank in most of the categories kept by Her Hoop Stats. However, comparing her to Semaj Smith gives an idea of where she was on course to rank in one important category: foul rate.

Both Gül and Smith had a foul rate of 7.6 percent last season. The two players have differing strengths—Smith is a better shot-blocker and rebounder while Gül is better at setting up her teammates with assists from the post—but the common weakness is their struggle to stay out of foul trouble.

For Smith, who played enough to have qualifying numbers, that 7.6 foul rate placed her at 3,173 of 3,321 qualifying Division I players. Gül played just 109 minutes over 16 games, but racked up 17 fouls in those minutes and had the same foul rate as her teammate. That works out to 6.4 fouls per 40 minutes of play, which is obviously an unsustainable rate.

Last season, Arizona’s starting frontcourt of Cate Reese and Dominique McBryde had foul rates of 4.0 and 4.9, respectively. That placed Reese in the 53.6 percentile and McBryde in the 30.5 percentile.

The 7.6 foul rate of Gül would have put her anywhere from the fourth to the 4.5 percentile—behind at least 95.5 percent of her peers—if she had qualifying numbers. While she may not reach Reese’s 4.0 foul rate, reaching a long-term goal somewhere between Reese and McBryde’s rates would help both Gül’s personal career path and the success of the Wildcats.

Like all freshmen, Gül had a great deal to learn when she stepped on campus. She can improve in every other area of the game, but if she can’t stay out of foul trouble, she will have difficulty contributing in those other areas.

Arizona is getting stronger inside as Reese matures and the staff brings in more talent. Like the rest of Arizona’s growing inside depth, staying on the floor will be critical for anyone looking to break into or maintain her place in the rotation.

Take a look at our evaluation of Sevval’s freshman season...

Did you miss previous installments in this series? Here’s where you can find them...