This is the first installment of a series on what we learned about each player during Arizona’s recent trip to the Bahamas.
Mark Lyons will be on the court often. Lyons led the team exactly like a point guard should. In the first game, Lyons scored 18 points with 4 assists and 4 rebounds in 21 minutes. Lyons was 3-3 inside the arc and 4-6 from deep. Lyons wasn’t looking for his shot and took what the defense gave him, which was a lot of open looks. Equally important, Lyons took care of the ball with zero turnovers.
In the second game Lyons was more aggressive attacking the basket. Lyons scored 19 points on 6-10 shooting. Lyons had two assists and went to the line three times as he was looking to finish his drives. Lyons’ defense was on display as he recorded three steals.
Lyons brings a great deal of experience and defensive toughness to the backcourt. Arizona hasn’t had a senior at the point guard position since Nic Wise, and Lyons’ understanding of the system should allow the offense to flow faster than it did last year. Lyons will have no issue pushing the tempo and looking for a shot whenever needed.
Due to his ability to play both guard positions, we expect Lyons to be on the floor most of the game. Lyons will be a leader of the team and depending on which other guard is playing, Lyon can run the point or look to shoot. In crunch time, we expect Lyons to be one of the primary decision makers, along with Solomon Hill.
Gabe York will need to be patient. York had some good practices, but comes in with four guards ahead of him on the roster, which can make it hard to find minutes. York averaged 11 minutes per game in the Bahamas. York managed 10 points on 4-9 shooting in the first game, but did not score in the second while only taking three shots.
While the other freshmen will get opportunities to play through mistakes, York will have to adjust to the college game in more limited action. With York’s shooting ability, he will still be able to impact the game if he plays with confidence. The key is for York to maintain that confidence while he learns the system in practice, which can be a tough adjustment for players that were stars in high school.
York is still getting used the intensity at the college level. His development will be crucial if anyone in the backcourt suffers an injury or a slump. York’s ability to defend and get open shots will determine how long York stays on the court once he gets the opportunity. If York can focus on getting better while he waits to be called upon, Arizona will have the luxury of depth at the guard position.