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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Unselfishness, ball movement key for UA”

    Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless shoots over Washington States Taylor Rochestie in the Wildcats 76-64 win over the Cougars Thursday in McKale Center. The Wildcats will next be in action at USC on Jan. 31.
    Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless shoots over Washington State’s Taylor Rochestie in the Wildcats’ 76-64 win over the Cougars Thursday in McKale Center. The Wildcats will next be in action at USC on Jan. 31.

    Hoops Notes

    Kevin O’Neill said he won’t play a selfish player regardless of how good he may be.

    The UA interim head coach has not had to worry about that this year as an emphasis on ball movement has rubbed off on his squad, which ranks second in the Pacific 10 Conference in assists, averaging 16.6 per game.

    “”I felt that this team has always been unselfish,”” said UA forward Chase Budinger. “”We don’t have any selfish people on this team. We all have one goal, all we want is to win basketball games. It’s a great group of guys that we’ve got, and I think that’s what makes this team very unselfish, because we all like each other.””

    At no time was that more evident than during last weekend’s sweep in Washington, when the Wildcats assisted on 74 percent of their 50 field goals while moving the ball “”extremely well,”” according to O’Neill. That led to the team shooting 58.8 percent for the weekend.

    “”It goes back to that winning thing,”” O’Neill said. “”If you want to win, you make the pass. If you don’t want to win, you might as well go ahead and shoot it, hope it goes in.””

    O’Neill sees his

    If you want to win, you make the pass. If you don’t want to win, you might as well go ahead and shoot it, hope it goes in.

    – Kevin O’Neill,
    UA interim head coach

    job as making sure players understand who should get the shots by running plays for them. Then it’s up to the players to move the ball for open shots, something guard Jerryd Bayless said has been the team’s goal since the start of the season.

    Unlike previous Arizona teams where some players seemed to be playing for their futures, O’Neill said he has not seen any selfishness in his squad.

    Along with having a group of selfless players, Bayless said that’s because the players know where that kind of ball movement can lead the Wildcats.

    “”Everybody realizes the farther we go, the more individual awards that they will get,”” he said. “”So I think everybody’s embraced that concept of just winning, and everybody has to for this team to be successful.””

    Motion offense leads to open shots

    Earlier in the season when the Wildcats relied heavily on O’Neill to call the plays, Budinger said the five on the floor would often look to the sidelines for the play calls during a few games.

    But recently Arizona has often used a variation of a play called “”Swing,”” in which the wings get freed up by picks and then have different options based on how the defense reacts.

    “”It allows us to go out there and just play,”” Budinger said.

    That has helped free the Wildcats up for uncontested shots, many from 3-point range, which O’Neill said is important for any offense. Therefore, the team’s 25-for-43 long-range shooting performance (58.1 percent) against the Washington schools should come as no surprise.

    “”I’m not taking anything away from the way we’ve shot the ball, I just know that most of our shots have been wide open,”” O’Neill said, “”and if you’re moving the ball and getting wide-open shots you should shoot a higher percentage than if you don’t.””

    Looking for more

    The Wildcats went from not receiving any votes in last week’s AP poll to third in the “”Others Receiving Votes”” category with 102 votes after the weekend sweep of the Washington schools.

    But that didn’t satisfy Budinger, who was named to the Wooden Award top-30 list Monday.

    “”We always have more to prove,”” he said. “”We feel that we can play with anybody, and we’ve just got to go out there and show it, so we’ve got games coming up that are going to be games where we can really prove ourselves.””

    Hill hosts a block party

    UA forward Jordan Hill said he’s feeling more confident blocking shots, as could be seen in his career weekend against the Washington schools.

    Hill blocked 11 shots in the two games, including a career-high six Thursday against the Cougars, saying he knows he can go for blocks without fearing contact.

    “”I’m just starting to block shots better,”” he said. “”I’m just timing the ball better.””

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