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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Barcello key as Wildcats move forward

Simon Asher
Arizona’s Alex Barcello makes his way past a Utah defender. At the half, Arizona leads 46-32.

SALT LAKE CITY— Alex Barcello has struggled this season, both with confidence and physically. If the Arizona men’s basketball team doesn’t want to struggle in March, they’ll need him to snap out of what seems like a season long funk for various reasons.

After recovering from a hurt ankle, Barcello has slowly seen more minutes, but outside of giving starting point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright a rest, he hasn’t done very much. Against ASU, he put himself in poor spots on the floor against the Sun Devils trap. It put himself and his teammates in positions that weren’t ideal and resulted in turnovers which allowed ASU to stay in the game for a stretch.

Against Utah, Barcello had several minutes in the first half to make plays but was hesitant. When he did make a move to the basket and look to attack he appeared lost, no plan on what to do when he had the chance to make a play.

“He played tonight and he did a couple good things…he’s a really good shooter, it’s just a matter of one dropping,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said.

Barcello is a freshman and perhaps for that reason he has had missteps. Seemingly every freshman has, even superstar Deandre Ayton. However, whether he is aware or not, Barcello could be a huge key for the Wildcats as the season wears on. Guard Allonzo Trier has primarily spotted Parker-Cartwright as the backup point guard, especially during Barcello’s injury. But relying on Trier, one of Arizona’s primary scorer’s, may wear him down. From an efficiency standpoint you have to wonder how that will fare in the NCAA Tournament at season’s end with so much on the line.

“He is similar to me, I mean, when I was a freshman, it’s almost identical situations from when I was a freshman,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “I just tell him to stay the course, it’s a long season. You’re fresh out of high school, everything hits you at once. He listens, he’s tough, mentally tough, physically tough, he’s going to continue to get better. He’s going to help our team, he already has.

With Barcello not able to log more minutes Trier was forced to run the offense and did it well with just five assists to one turnover against the Utes. However, his scoring dropped, only attempting five field goals on the night. Was it fatigue or simply trying to run the offense? Either way, Arizona is better when Trier is scoring by most estimations.

When Jackson-Cartwright received his fourth foul with 6:26 left in the second half with Utah fighting to get back in the game, it could have turned for the worse had it not been for quality minutes from Trier and timely free throw shooting. PJC returning for the final minutes and good free throw shooting were enough to beat Utah in the Huntsman Center, against better teams the same might not be true.

To his credit, despite not performing the way he’d like, Barcello continues to play hard. But effort alone won’t get him minutes if he can’t find a way to be effective. It is something to watch as the season progresses.

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