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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Getting in the zone

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona meets Washington University in an NCAA mens basketball game at McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 10, 2010. Arizona up 37-27 at the half.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets Washington University in an NCAA men’s basketball game at McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 10, 2010. Arizona up 37-27 at the half.

Any young college basketball team endures both predictable hardships and unpredictable moments.

Surrendering crucial turnovers. Blowing big runs.

Tonight, the Wildcats (8-8, 2-2 Pacific 10 Conference) know exactly how their youth could potentially be exposed early on: Oregon State’s zone defense.

“”It’s different for a young team,”” UA head coach Sean Miller said. “”That’s not an advantage.””

Oregon State plays an extended 1-3-1 zone defense mixed with a 2-3 matchup zone. Senior forward Seth Tarver, who plays at the top of OSU’s scheme, leads the Pac-10 in steals with 45. As a team, OSU leads the rest of the conference with 8.4 steals per game.

By botching their opponents’ offensive tempo, Tarver allows the Beavers to convert turnovers into quick points on the other end.

“”I think he’s getting better game by game, using his length at the top of the zone,”” senior point guard Nic Wise said. “”You have to be in attack mode with him being up at top.””

Miller’s game plan continues the same as always: Don’t settle for bad outside shots early in the game. But that’s something that happened earlier this season on the ver first road trip.

The Wildcats shot a mere 35.6 percent from the floor in its 63-46 blowout loss at San Diego State. Arizona shot 2-of-10 from beyond the arc and gave up 13 turnovers in the first half alone.

“”Being on the road in and of itself, you want your team to be patient, move the defense, take great shots,”” Miller said. “”Some of our worst performances this year …  can be attributed to quick shots at the beginning of the game and plays on offense that set the tone in a negative way.

“”We don’t want to shoot 25 threes because they’re playing zone,”” Miller added. “”I think sometimes what we have to do is get the ball in the middle area, whether it’s dribble there or pass there. Players have to take responsibility.””

Arizona has been conscious of its road struggles since last season’s 2-7 conference road record. Earlier this year, Miller cited the lack of continuity from the program’s past three coaches as a reason for the Wildcats’ poor road performances.

The past two Pac-10 road trips have been split with the Los Angeles and Washington schools, providing the Wildcats with a more positive outlook in a wide-open conference.

Heading into this weekend, three teams are tied in first place with one conference loss apiece. Five teams have two losses. Washington, picked to win the Pac-10, is in last with three losses.

Like Arizona, the Beavers are coming off a momentum-building win — 64-57 victory against Oregon — after suffering a blowout loss against a non-BCS conference school (99-48 to Seattle).

“”Our conference — there’s so much parody to it,”” Miller said. “”So many teams are very equally matched. That’s very evident.

“”It’s a really fun conference now if you’re a fan. You can just tell a conference race will be in jeopardy and in doubt into March.””

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