The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

87° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Litmus test


When the No. 25 Arizona men’s basketball team enters the rowdy home of the No. 20 Washington Huskies on Thursday, expect a buzz. Fighting for first-place in the conference is a big deal, after all.

“”I think this is the series that makes us or breaks us,”” forward Solomon Hill said. “”This shows us who we are and where we stand in the Pac-10.””

But with two-thirds of the Pacific 10 Conference schedule remaining, don’t expect the Wildcats’ trip to the Northwest to be anything more than a litmus test.

“”I think there could be bigger (games) here in the next few weeks,”” said UA head coach Sean Miller.

“”Washington, to me, they’re the program that’s on top of the Pac-10 right now,”” he added. “”They play at a frenetic pace. Playing them on their home court really feeds to that pace.””

Led by fiery junior guard Isaiah Thomas, the Huskies also present a challenge for size-deprived Arizona (15-3, 4-1 Pac-10). Seven-foot center Aziz N’Diaye and forward Matt Bryan-Amaning give Washington (13-4, 5-1 Pac-10) offensive rebounding and length on the defensive end.

Those factors feed into the Huskies’ pace, leading to open shots, including 3-pointers. Where the Huskies struggled to find their range last season, Miller says UW poses a big threat this year — seven players shoot 35 percent or better from 3-point distance.

“”I don’t mind running with them,”” Miller said. “”I do worry about their pace. They can really break you down with their pace, creating easy shots. It’s important that we get back. It’s important we don’t turn the ball over.

“”A turnover against Washington is a disaster; they convert so quickly.””

Even if the Huskies’ shots don’t fall, the team leads the Pac-10 in offensive rebounding.

“”They’re the best offensive rebounding team in our conference, and there’s a big gap between second-best,”” Miller said. “”They do it with a number of guys. They play with a fast pace, but they’re reckless on the offensive glass.””

In the trenches

Forwards Derrick Williams, Jamelle Horne and Jesse Perry will have the pleasure of doing the grunt-work against Washington’s big men.

“”You’ve always got to go out there and just battle,”” Perry said. “”You can scout a team to a certain extent, but it always comes down to your toughness and how hard you’re willing to battle to get the win.””

Perry and Horne have seemingly played a back-and-forth on who will show up on a given evening, while Williams has led the team with 19.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

His presence has kept his teammates’ attention in a number of ways, most notably in how their opportunities are opened up on the floor.

Perry, in his first year at Arizona, said the chemistry between himself and Williams has developed since the beginning of the season. He’s also taken note of Williams’ moves to the basket.

“”Just going up against him and watching him play,”” Perry said, “”just picking up certain moves … the way he’ll draw contact, the way he’ll finish.””

Hill said it’s Williams’ use of angles that makes him so special on the offensive end.

“”He’s facing up so close to the basket, and with his ability to explode, it’s different,”” Hill said of Williams.

“”If he fakes out the guy, if the guy doesn’t fake, he’ll go right past you,”” he said. “”But if you do take the fake, he’ll get the shoulder past you, and once you create contact, he’s already going up for the shot. His game is all angles.'””

More to Discover
Activate Search