The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

100° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Defense to keep on attack in Sin City

    Arizona guard Nic Wise jumps into Gonzaga guard Austin Daye (5) before passing the ball out to UA guard Kyle Fogg (not pictured) in a 69-64 win over the No. 4 Bulldogs in the U.S. Airways Center on Sunday.
    Arizona guard Nic Wise jumps into Gonzaga guard Austin Daye (5) before passing the ball out to UA guard Kyle Fogg (not pictured) in a 69-64 win over the No. 4 Bulldogs in the U.S. Airways Center on Sunday.

    Arizona at UNLV

    LAS VEGAS – It’s no easy task to defeat the nation’s No. 4-ranked team. But to overcome an ensuing hangover from the week before – that’s where the Arizona men’s basketball team stands.

    If this week’s practices are any indication, the Wildcats (7-2) have remained aggressive and still eager to prove themselves against UNLV (8-2) in Las Vegas, on Saturday at 1 p.m.

    Defensively, that’s their philosophy, too.

    “”It’s almost playing offensive defense, is that makes sense,”” Pennell said at Wednesday’s press conference.

    Ever since the days he assisted Eddie Sutton, Pennell has believed in aggressive ball pressuring, as oppose to most coach’s conservative tactics.

    The style played into a considerable factor in Sunday’s 69-64 upset win over No. 4 Gonzaga in Phoenix, where the Wildcats used frequent sideline traps and full court pressure to force mistakes and turnovers.

    The Bulldogs’ starting point guard Jeremy Pargo committed seven turnovers himself – half of Gonzaga’s 14 total.

    Philosophically, both Pennell and UA associate head coach Mike Dunlap have implemented their defensive models together to form a bevy of schemes so far this season.

    The Wildcats have used a 1-1-3 zone defense that includes many man-to-man principles, along with a 2-2-1 full-court press and half-court traps.

    Sound like enough? Pennell knows his opposition.

    “”I think we’re getting there,”” Pennell said. “”But what’s going to happen now is we’re going to run up opponents that are going to scout that. We can’t just rely on one defense. It’s always a cat and mouse game. there’s too much information on you out there. You just have to keep changing yourself and find those right combinations for each team.””

    Added UA forward Jordan Hill: “”Defense is getting a lot better. We’re helping each other out. Closing out better, moving our feet better, everyone is doing what we need to do.””

    Hill said the simplistic workouts that Pennell runs in practice have helped players considerably on the defensive end. By working on fundamental moves such as pivoting and defensive shuffles, it’s helped forward Chase Budinger better establish his footwork.

    “”His feet weren’t quick enough like he should be,”” Hill said. “”All these footwork drills, chase is getting a lot better on defense moving his feet.””

    Arizona limited the ‘Zags to just 6-of-20 from beyond the arc all game, and also held the Bulldogs to 39.3 percent from the floor in the second half.

    Along with improvement in pure statistics, Pennell said the newly-implemented defensive schemes can keep key players out of foul trouble throughout the game.

    Not that Pennell was saving the defensive breakthrough for the nation’s No. 4-ranked; but rather it was just the right timing to conquer its learning curve.

    “”I think it was just a case of we were ready to (use the traps), not that we were saving it or anything like that,”” Pennell said.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search