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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    5 questions for Arizona basketball

    Gordon Bates
    Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat Arizona Basketball victory against Humboldt State

    Head coach Sean Miller has said that his squad is a puzzle, and much of that has to do with the departure of Derrick Williams to the NBA and the transfer of starting point guard Momo Jones to Iona. Ranked No. 16 in the preseason, what will make or break Arizona’s season?

    1.Can Angelo Chol or Kyryl Natyazhko give Arizona a post presence?

    The last two seasons Arizona had automatic points every time it threw the ball to Derrick Williams. This season, that’s not an option. Until either Chol or Natyazhko can become a threat down low offensively it’s going to be tough for the Wildcats to rely on their shooting and their guards getting to the basket.

    Aside from forward Jesse Perry’s hustle paints, the Wildcats don’t have much on the frontlines.

    Interior defense could also be a problem when going up against UCLA and Washington. While Chol was a prolific shot-blocker in high school, it’s going to take him time to get used to the college game. Natyazhko provides a big body, but he needs to develop enough to take on the Joshua Smiths and Aziz N’Diayes of the conference.

    2.Can Josiah Turner become the clear-cut No. 1 point guard?

    Turner, a freshman from Sacramento, Calif., came into Arizona as’s No. 2 point guard and No. 11 player in the class of 2011, but he’s struggled at the start of his career as a Wildcat, even sitting out the entire third game of the season against Ball State.

    If Turner can be the kind of electric distributor of the ball that he was in high school, it’s going to make everyone on the floor with him more dangerous. It would also give head coach Sean Miller an opportunity to play Jordin Mayes along with Turner, which would get more good looks for the already-dangerous sophomore guard.

    If Turner can’t set himself apart, Mayes will likely see the majority of minutes because of his experience. Even though he’s not a true point guard, Mayes has a better feel for the offense and can hit shots from the outside. Although he’s a better scorer, Mayes isn’t the pure playmaker that made Turner one of the top recruits in the country.

    Will Turner figure it out?

    3.Will Kyle Fogg be able to score consistently?

    For two years, Fogg has been something of a ticking time bomb.

    He’s capable of scoring 25 points on any night, but also had his share of games when it’s hard to notice that he’s even on the floor. That needs to change for the 2011-12 season.

    Fogg showed the ability to be a complete scorer in the season-opener against Valparaiso, scoring 16 points without connecting on a 3-pointer. He knocked down mid-range jumpers, scored in the paint and showed the ability to create his own shot.

    But against Duquesne, it was the exact opposite. Fogg shot 2-of-9 from the field and scored seven points.

    While he won’t leave the floor because of his defense, Fogg scoring for Arizona on a nightly basis will have huge implications for how good the Wildcats will be by season’s end.

    4.Can Solomon Hill take over games offensively?

    Arizona is going to have games this year where the shots don’t fall. The Wildcats are going to need somebody that can get to the basket and finish, as well as get to the free throw line for easy points.

    Who’s better for that job than Solomon Hill? That 6-foot-6 forward has the physical ability to take over when he wants to. The problem is that he hasn’t done it often during his two-plus years at Arizona.

    Hill made great progress in his sophomore season and was probably Arizona’s second-best player during its run to the Elite Eight. But through the beginning of the 2011-12 season, he’s struggled with turnovers and hasn’t been able to find a rhythm on offense. He had perhaps his best game of his career against Ball State, and if Arizona is going to contend for a conference championship and make a run in the NCAA tournament, Hill needs play like that consistently.

    5.Will Nick Johnson take Arizona from good to great?

    Johnson, a freshman guard, is a rare player. He can shoot, drive and finish at the rim. He can play lockdown defense and force turnovers. There isn’t much he can’t do with a basketball. If Johnson can figure things out relatively quickly, he has the ability to bring Arizona from being a good team to a great one. As important as Fogg has been to Arizona during his four years, Johnson might already be a better player.

    Johnson showed his ability to take games over for stretches of time in the exhibition loss to Seattle Pacific. For a team still looking for a go-to scorer, Johnson is as good of an option as anybody.

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