Motiejus Krivas has started to settle into the physicality of college basketball. Arizona will need him to keep developing in order to make the center position a strength no matter who is on the court.
In a game where Oumar Ballo struggles from the field or is in foul trouble, UA needs a backup five that can produce at a high level around the rim so there isn’t drop off. Krivas, a 7-foot freshman from Lithuania, has done that as of late.
In his last three games he has been efficient, making 15 of 17 shots from the field and is averaging a +16 plus/minus.
In Thursday's win against Colorado, Ballo struggled from the field (1 of 7) but Krivas gave UA a lift with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting 7 of 8 while tying his career high in rebounds (nine).
“Today was his best game, just overall toughness, effort, energy at both ends of the floor,” Tommy Lloyd said. “When you’re a 7-footer in this program, you’re a bad man and you got to play like it and he’s learning that. He’s a really nice kid, really soft spoken and he’s got to toughen up a little bit.”
Krivas has been going stronger to the rim as of late but knows he still has to work keeping the ball strong because of the amount of ball swipes that happen in college basketball compared to overseas.
“Physicality I think it’s still the most important thing for me to get better because I get in these situations every game and I need to get better,” he said.
Free throw shooting at the five has been shaky as Ballo is making only 45 percent from the line. But Krivas has been consistent, shooting 78 percent.
With Krivas trending up and getting adjusted to college basketball, the duo of Ballo and Krivas at the five will be hard for most teams to match up with and will only help UA down the road.
“It helps us, now you have 40 minutes of really good five play,” Lloyd said. “I think if you find advantages at that position, it’s going to really help your team.”