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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Johnson gets into rotation

    Hoops Notes

    The transition from high school to college basketball entails one of the most difficult adjustments for any aspiring basketball player.

    But the transition from college practice to college gameday? Zane Johnson knows about that.

    After consistently hitting 3-pointers in recent practices, Johnson earned a spot in the rotation Sunday afternoon against NAU.

    The sophomore, whose redshirt was pulled halfway through last season, has been described as one of Arizona’s best shooters by his coaches and teammates.

    Despite shooting 0-for-2 in his season-high 15 minutes of playing time Sunday, UA interim head coach Russ Pennell and Johnson’s teammates said he needs even more playing time to bridge the gap between shooting in practice and in games.

    “”He just needs to get more minutes and feel more comfortable,”” Pennell said. “”I think if he gets more minutes he’ll start making those shots. He earned that right to play tonight.””

    Added UA forward Chase Budinger: “”Definitely on the defensive end, he’s getting better. He’s getting smarter, where to be on the defensive end. He’s a great shooter.””

    In the same manner reserve guard Kyle Fogg received a starting spot earlier this season, Johnson impressed the coaching staff in practice with improved defense. Johnson started the second half and grabbed four rebounds, much to the delight of Pennell.

    Johnson played 15 minutes and scored 3 points in a 86-52 blowout over Mississippi Valley State last Monday. Other than that, Johnson has totaled just two minutes, which came in the Wildcats’ season-opener against Florida Atlantic.

    “”We’ve got other guys who are still searching (for their roles),”” Pennell said. “”I told them, they’re going to get a chance – I think Zane has.””

    Added Wise: “”Zane played well. He just needs more experience in the game because it’s a lot different. He gave us intensity off the bench. We got a couple guys that are still coming along slowly.””

    Johnson was not available for comment following the game.

    Pennell still tweaking regular rotation

    The Arizona bench has seen highs and lows through the team’s first five games.

    In games against Florida Atlantic and Mississippi Valley State – the two weakest teams thus far – Pennell has used 10 and 12 players, respectively, in blowouts.

    But against Alabama-Birmingham and Santa Clara, Pennell resorted to playing just seven and eight players, respectively, in close games.

    Sunday’s 74-57 win over NAU, one that was not determined until later in the second half, gave nine players an opportunity to play.

    The inconsistent range, from seven to 12, doesn’t affect Chase Budinger.

    “”I don’t think he has a rotation,”” Budinger said. “”If (the Big Three juniors) need to play 40 minutes, we’ll play 40 minutes. I don’t think there’s any set rotation that we have.””

    ‘Cats still struggle from free-throw line

    One consistency through Arizona’s first five games has been their inconsistency from the free-throw line.

    The Wildcats shot just 16-of-26 from the line on Sunday. They shot 16-of-24 against Florida Atlantic and 13-of-20 in a one-point loss to UAB.

    Although Arizona averages about 70 percent from the charity stripe, UA forward Jordan Hill has gone just 16-of-24 – something Pennell has some concerns about.

    “”If you miss a couple (free throws) that basket starts looking like a thimble,”” Pennell said. “”He’ll get there. He just needs to have some success with his first few free throws.””

    Tickets discounted for Gonzaga game in Phoenix

    Tickets for the Arizona vs. Gonzaga game on Dec. 14 at the U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix have been discounted by 20 percent beginning today.

    The “”Packing The House”” promotion runs until Dec. 7. Tickets, now reduced as low as $20, can be purchased on, by calling (480) 784-4444 or at the US Airways Center box office.

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