Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Arizona 73, Valparaiso 64

[recap] [box score]

It's only been one game, but based on Monday night's win against Valparaiso, I think 60 percent of Arizona's starting lineup could turn over at some point or another.

The "safe" players are seniors Jesse Perry and Kyle Fogg. Both did their damage off the dribble; Fogg as a slasher, Perry powering his way to the bucket.

Josiah Turner, Solomon Hill, and Kyryl Natyazhko, on the other hand, were all outplayed by their backups.

Turner, the highly-touted freshman point guard, has an excuse: He's a highly-touted freshman point guard eager to make a big first impression on the home crowd in his first game as a collegian. He forced two drives early, was yanked, then came back and immediately committed a charge. He settled down some as the game wore on, but never went on a stretch where he made several positive contributions in a short period of time. Jordin Mayes was better on both ends of the floor, leading the early second-half charge that blew a tight game open.

Natyahzko was a disaster, picking up two early fouls, then another two in the span of one minute, 49 seconds to start the second half. Freshman Angelo Chol replaced him and was nearly as foul-prone, but made positive contributions defensively and on the glass, displayed surprising range out to 15 feet or so, and even made a one-dribble finish in traffic on a break.

Hill has to be the real disappointment for coach Sean Miller. He was sloppy and disinterested all night, characteristics that have dotted his career. Freshman Nick Johnson was outstanding, drilling two three-pointers, getting to the line, and leading the team with six assists. I don't think Hill would respond well to being taken out of the starting lineup, and for that reason, I think Miller will stick with him as long as he can. It's too early to mess with lineups, but Monday should serve as a good kick in the ass for Hill.

Arizona notes: Natyazhko could not possibly have played worse, but even if he plays up to his capabilities, it's hard to see how the Wildcats will compete with bigger teams, particularly UCLA ... One thing I like about watching Arizona is that they are the rare college team that doesn't go crazy with three-pointers. They have a ton of perimeter-oriented players, and all of them thrive off the dribble.

Valparaiso notes: Kevin Van Wijk turned in the best performance of the game from either team. A backup last season, Van Wijk stepped into the starting role tonight and single-handedly got the Arizona bigs in foul trouble. He finished craftily at the rim, grabbed five offensive rebounds (and kept several other plays alive), and shot 13 free throws, making eight ... Ryan Broekhoff made just three of nine three-pointers, but he has a good-looking stroke and this was probably just an off night. He had nine rebounds and showed a good handle; his ability to grab the ball and push it upcourt himself is a plus ... Point guard Erik Buggs is lightning-quick and easily beat both Turner and Mayes off the dribble. But listed at what appears to be a very generous 5'11", he had some trouble finishing at the rim.

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