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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hoops moves on from Kansas

Hoops moves on from Kansas

When the Arizona basketball team went toe-to-toe with then-No.6 Kansas, the Wildcats showed the progress that has been made from a year ago.

The work that head coach Sean Miller and UA players have said they’ve put in is already showing just six games into the season.

“”We showed a lot of people that we could play with the best of them,”” said sophomore point guard Momo Jones. “”It would’ve always been better to win the game, but at the same time, we held our own against a top-5 team.””

Arizona had the type of performances in Las Vegas that suggest great things are to come this season, but it could also be a trap. Though much is being made of how well Arizona played against the Jayhawks, the reality is that it was a loss.

“”Everybody likes to reflect on the Kansas game, because of who Kansas is,”” Miller said. “”We lost, and it’s important that our players respond to that loss.

“”We have a real challenge to learn some things,”” he added. “”We really need to move forward to play, what I think, will be one of the more difficult games of our season.””

Though the Wildcats showed significant progress against a top-5 ranked team, there were plenty of mistakes that proved to be costly.

“”It showed the progress we made from last season to this season, but at the same time, we have a long way to go as a team to get better,”” Miller said. “”We had a number of breakdowns, whether it be early in the game or late in the game, that didn’t allow us to leave there with a win.””

The Wildcats are now forced to move forward with very little practice time to learn from those mistakes, having played four games in the last 10 days.

“”We’re a lot like a lot of teams in college basketball,”” Miller said. “”It’s so different in November than it used to be, that you can’t practice, you just play too many games.””

Williams exceeding expectations

Derrick Williams came into the season as the face of Arizona basketball, and early in the season, he hasn’t disappointed.

The reigning Pacific 10 Conference Freshman of the Year was the best player on the court against then-No.6 ranked Kansas, a team who featured stellar twin big-men, Marcus and Markieff Morris.

With a number of scouts in attendance to see Williams, he showed the nation what every team in the Pac-10 already knew — he is a big-time player.

He scored 27 points and eight rebounds, and although more people are watching him, Williams insists it doesn’t affect him.

“”I just play like I’ve been since I got here,”” he said. “”I’m still playing like I’m underrated, I have a point to prove, and so does our team.””

The sophomore says he’s playing the same way he played last season, but the way he’s shooting 3 pointers suggests otherwise.

Williams is shooting 64 percent from beyond the arc, going 7-for-9 on the season, showing his improved shooting touch.

“”Coach wants us to shoot it if we’re open,”” he added. “”I don’t think I surprised anybody. I know I can shoot. If I’m open, I will shoot it.””

He also leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 21 points and seven rebounds this season.

Once again, he’s proving to be the heart and soul of the team.

“”The value for him is immense on our team,”” Miller said. “”When he’s not in the game, it’s not a good thing.””

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