PGU Staff Writer
As the anticipation grows for the 2010-2011-basketball season, little has been said about the only player who won’t be returning. Fans and media are quick to tout that the Wildcats only lose one player from last year’s team. And that they return youth that is both talented and experienced. So this Arizona team should be better, right?
Derrick Williams had an exceptional freshmen year along with a very encouraging off-season. But he will need to be as effective without Wise to distribute the ball or draw defensive attention. Wise’s ability to create his own shot was invaluable.Wise could break the defense with the dribble, creating easy opportunities for Williams down low. Wise also could create his own jump shot. Even if opponents doubted his shooting ability, they knew if they left him open the shot was going up. This created room for Williams to roam the paint without much weak side help because of Wise’s ability from behind the 3-point arc.
There is no doubt Momo Jones will be able to run a team at some point, but no one knows when that will be. Coach Miller even stated at Pac 10 media day that he expects more growing pains for Jones to start the season. Last year, Jones was best in transition he has not shown the ability to run an offense in the half court setting, especially since his jump shot is unproven. Teams can sit on his drive and force him to shot over them. More importantly, if teams are sitting on his drive the lane will be clogged for Derrick Williams.
The same can be said for Kevin Parrom and Solomon Hill, whose strengths are taking the ball to the rim. Both have struggled to the shot the ball from the outside. If defenses can sag off the small forward position as well, there will be even more help defense waiting for Williams in the post.
Is Fogg a true threat from the outside? Fogg had great games from deep last year, but also had some noticeable shooting slumps. He is more of a spot up shooter who thrives on teammates breaking down the defense and kicking it out for spot up shots. Without Wise penetrating and passing out of the lane, Fogg will need to find other ways to get open.
Jamelle Horne is in a similar situation. He can’t really create his own shot, but can be dangerous spotting up on the wing. One benefit of Horne shooting deep threes is that defenders will have to come out to guard him. Of course the downside is that he won’t be able to help Wiliams rebound. Horne can be a tremendous rebounder, especially with the attention that Williams will receive, but he will need to balance that with stretching defenses.
It has been said many times that Daniel Bejarano and Brendon Lavender are “pure shooters,” but Bejarano is a freshman and will take time to learn the offense. Lavender has never shown a consistent shot, and struggled to stay on the floor when his shot wasn’t falling. Jordin Mayes is intriguing because he runs the point and seems like he can hit the outside shot consistently, but he too is only a freshman.
To start last season it was clear who would get the shot in crunch time. Wise seemed to have an inordinate amount of success in late game situations, but whether the shot went in or not, everyone agreed he needed to take it. Who will fill that void this season, and if their first few chances bounce the wrong way, how patient will fans be? Everyone agrees Derrick Williams is the team’s best player, but it’s less clear if Arizona can run a clear out play for him with 5 seconds left. Momo Jones established he can make a game winning shot, but that was far from a play drawn up for him.
From a statistical perspective Wise should be easy to replace, but fans might be overlooking how his presence contributed to the success of Derrick Williams, as well as other players on the team. Any time a team loses their senior point guard the offense is bound to suffer. Time will tell if the collective improvement by the returning players will offset the loss of Wise. Particularly, time will tell if Derrick Williams is ready to carry a team while having the bullseye on his back.