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Establishing Arizona’s Chemistry

October 5th, 2014 News 4 Comments

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Martin Hayvush

It’s no secret that one of the reasons behind Arizona’s stellar 2013-2014 season was exceptional chemistry. Not only did the members of the team enjoy playing with one another, their skill sets were very complementary.

The Wildcats only lost two significant contributors from last year in Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon, who are both cashing NBA checks now. But Johnson and Gordon were a huge part of Arizona’s success and chemistry last year, as both had team first, win at all costs mentalities.

And with an influx of new faces into the program, Arizona will need to rebuild the synergy that made them such a special unit last year.

So how does a team, with many new pieces involved, develop that chemistry? It’s easier said than done.

The first part of it is having clearly defined roles. Luckily Arizona returns a lot of talent, making the starting roles a little easier to predict as we head into practices. It’s plenty reasonable to think that Arizona’s returning core of TJ McConnell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brandon Ashley, and Kaleb Tarczewski will shoulder most of the burden while relying on their experience together last year.

Arizona’s experienced players will have to lead by example, and that in turn will create a smoother transition for the new guys. So long as Arizona’s top dogs are consistently doing the heavy lifting, the pressure on newcomers like Stanley Johnson or Kadeem Allen will be greatly relieved, allowing them to focus on executing their role within the offense.

When most freshmen and transfers try to do too much right away, it can throw a big wrench into team chemistry and their own development. Arizona’s leaders need to make life easier on the newcomers by hitting the ground running in practices.

The other big piece to the chemistry equation is the man that makes the Wildcat offense go. McConnell is entering his senior year, his third at Arizona including the year he sat out due to NCAA transfer rules.

On a team as talented as Arizona, it takes a special type of point guard to distribute the ball well enough to keep everyone happy. Luckily McConnell is that point guard. Granted the Wildcats had a roster full of team-first players last season, but McConnell did a masterful job spreading the wealth to his running mates.

With the embarrassment of riches at the Wildcats’ disposal this year, McConnell’s ability to create shots for anyone and everyone will be critical to keeping an offensive balance throughout the season. That offensive balance is what can keep players happy in such a deep and talented rotation. McConnell ensures that everyone is going to get their piece of the pie.

Don’t worry one bit about Arizona’s chemistry, even if it takes more than a few games for the Cats to find it. Whenever you are folding new players into the mix, there’s going to be some rough patches. But Sean Miller has done an excellent job recruiting talent without the ego. This is a special group of players, one that values winning above all else. And as long they have McConnell at the helm, the sailing will be smooth.

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4 Responses to “Establishing Arizona’s Chemistry”

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  1. Jeff

    October 5, 2014
    Reply

    No worries about Arizona’s chemistry. Each of the starters appear very mature and unselfish. For such a talented starting five, it’s remarkable how willing each is to sacrifice accumulating gaudy stats for the greater good of the team, just like last year.

  2. titan4wildcats

    October 5, 2014
    Reply

    I believe there may be one more factor which might make it easier to distribute the ball to all of the players, or spread the wealth so to speak. The defense. All of the scoring options on the floor want the rock. That’s natural. In order to be able to get it, they have to get open. They have to execute properly. This gives them the best chance of creating the openings. Let’s say the play is designed to get Zeus open. Everyone executes, Zeus gets open, gets the ball, and scores. Execute a couple of other plays and they work. Now you go back to the play to get Zeus open. But the defense doesn’t always let the same play work over and over. They alter their defense to stop the success of that play. In doing so, it leaves another player open. A player that isn’t the option for that play. But a great point guard sees that he’s open and there’s the scoring option left open that was created by the defense. This also can help distribute to different players as well as executing different plays. It would appear that the only thing that could make this not equally as successful is if the player who became open because of the defensive adjustment and gets caught off guard. This is where the benefit of the team first player and team chemistry comes in. He’s part of the team and knows that he has to be ready to do what he can in case the play doesn’t develop as planned. This is the result of great coaching.

  3. Papadeuce

    October 6, 2014
    Reply

    Gotta think TJ is the difference maker here. Not only does he make it happen on the court, but off it as well. This team has a chance to be something special.

  4. nightwave

    October 6, 2014
    Reply

    I hear that Ashley is back to form, even better, and that he’s hungry. I hear that Ristic is 15 pounds heavier. He’s getting pretty big, and he’s agile. Sounds like the kind of player that could cause problems for Wisconsin’s Kaminsky. We know that Stanimal is a unique player and is not that well known by the opposition yet. Of course TJ will be better, and he’ll increase his scoring, because he’s a smart guy. Kadeem is a secret weapon that is a quick, accurate, and knowledgeable. The quick, elusive PJC will add a dimension that will throw off opponents. But what I really like is the two bombers in York and Pitts, who are experienced and proven outside shooters. Guys like these coming off the bench will stretch the defense. Arizona has so many schemes that opponents will become frustrated, bewildered, and worn out. The bench is much much better than last year’s. The free throw shooting will be much better than last years with Stanimal better than Gordon. Both of those two elements will propel us into the final four. Hard nosed guys like Stanimal, RHJ, and Ashley will be the driving force that Connecticut had with their two guards.

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