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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: It’s time to let Stanley Johnson loose

Tyler Baker

Arizona forward Stanley Johnson watches as his shot is blocked by ASU’s defense during Arizona’s 73-49 win against ASU in McKale Center on Jan. 4. Increased offensive output from Johnson could be the boost Arizona needs to get over its recent struggles.

It doesn’t take a genius to know the No. 10 Arizona men’s basketball team had no business losing to Oregon State this past Sunday. It was an uncharacteristic loss for the Arizona program to a team in Oregon State that had been handled by the Wildcats in recent history.

Not to mention the loss raises plenty of red flags around this Arizona squad — many of which reside on the offensive side of the ball. Much like the UNLV loss, the UA offense fizzled for long stretches of time. Want proof? Look no further than the 21-20 UA lead over the Beavers at halftime. Arizona was just 6-23 from the field for a putrid 26-percent field goal percentage, including going 1-10 from behind the arc.

It was a performance that made last season’s struggling offense look like world beaters. The biggest difference between the two offenses has to be the lack of a go-to scorer on this season’s team.

There was a consensus that Nick Johnson would be missed, and boy has he been missed. The Wildcats have struggled to find a late game scorer to take over the void left by Nick Johnson and have seen end of game offensive possessions result in turnovers more frequently than made buckets.

Interestingly, the one guy on this Arizona team that has the ability to take up that late game scoring role is also a Johnson. Stanley Johnson came to Arizona as one of the best scorers in his class and a perfect candidate to get buckets for the Wildcats. While Stanley Johnson is leading the Wildcats in scoring at 13.9 points per game, he is also the leader in turnovers and second in personal fouls.

In Arizona’s two losses this year, Stanley Johnson has struggled to consistently be that scoring presence that the Wildcats so desperately need. 

Against UNLV, the freshman went just 3-11 from the field en route to a 13 point performance aided heavily by six free-throw makes and committed seven turnovers — the last of which came as the clock wound down and the Wildcats looked to tie up the score.

Against Oregon State, he attempted just four shots, making two, and finished with a grand total of seven points in his second-ever Pac-12 Conference road game. Not exactly the type of performance needed from the leading scorer.

It’s not that Stanley Johnson isn’t good enough to lead this team, because he most certainly is. It’s almost as if the freshman is defaulting to his older and more seasoned teammates. In most cases, that’s exactly what a freshman is supposed to do. But in this circumstance, where more seasoned teammates like Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Gabe York are struggling, Stanley Johnson needs to do what he’s been doing his entire basketball career and go seek shots.

I’m not saying he goes completely off the hinge and put up Kobe-Bryant-type shooting numbers, but he has to realize that he’s one of the few guys on the roster that can get his shot almost anytime he wants. It’s one of the reasons why he’s such a talented player and a likely top-5 NBA Draft pick.

As Arizona looks to bounce back from its most recent loss, it’s up to Stanley Johnson to pick up the offensive slack and lead the Wildcats down the stretch. Because, in the end, he’s not the scorer the Wildcats deserve. He’s the scorer they need.


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