PGU Staff Writer AW Butler
My immediate thought was to sit down and write out why Arizona lost at Oregon State. I wanted to pick apart their passive play and poor decision making and the fact that they lost to the #227 team in the RPI rankings.
Fact of the matter is they didn’t play well. Anyone can sit behind a keyboard and hammer out a criticism; I’ve done it and will definitely do it again.
But heading into a three game home stand and a rivalry game the Wildcats haven’t won in Tucson since 2007, there’s plenty to look forward to; there’s plenty to be optimistic about; there’s plenty of reasons to be excited in the desert.
Firstly, that three game home stand is against teams with a combined record of 23-15. Sure, they’re over .500, but these are teams that hold losses to the likes of Tulsa and Richmond. These teams are inconsistent and young. And while they’re talented squads, the Wildcats should be able to handle them.
Interestingly, each of Arizona’s next three opponents are plagued with a similar problem as the Wildcats: a gap at the point guard position. Cal’s starting point, Jorge Gutierrez, is a great sixth man. He’s a thorn in any team’s side and a definite energy spark. But a starting point guard should never average 3.2 turnovers per game and he’s just not good enough to carry a starter’s load.
While the Cardinal has over performed, they’re still remarkably young and heavily dependent on Jeremy Green – who can flat out shoot. He’s not a point guard but the ball is in his hands plenty. Their starting point is Aaron Bright who just recently became the starter and has proven moderately effective. Ultimately, he is an undersized freshman at the helm which is generally not a good sign.
The last of the home stand brings us Arizona State who has had the quintessential Herb Sendek point in Derek Glasser for the last four years. That role now falls to the underwhelming Jamelle McMillan who, like any good ASU point guard, just plays Robin to an athletic wing’s Batman. He now feeds Trent Lockett (finally playing like the player he should be) and the overrated (pre-season Wooden list) Ty Abbott. McMillan does average a solid 4.5 assists per game but so might you if you passed to Lockett or Abbott to create.
Each of these teams pose very different threats – although I’m not exactly sure what Cal’s is –but Arizona can and needs to sweep the home stand.
Another point of optimism is playing ASU. It doesn’t matter if it’s a jumping jacks contest; playing ASU is always a big deal and reason to be excited and show up. I – like I’m sure many of you – was in Tempe for the rivalry game last year. Fun right? Well McKale should be rocking come Saturday, January 15 and I would be surprised if the young Wildcats didn’t walk away with a victory. Albeit hard earned.
Look, I’ve said it a number of times: this team needs to and still is figuring itself out. Heck, this program is. But the foundation has been laid and the frame set.
It’s time to build the house.