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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Five things to watch against Seattle Pacific

It’s not St. John’s in Madison Square Garden or Florida in Gainesville, but the Wildcats’ exhibition game against Seattle Pacific tonight in McKale Center still holds importance.

“We’ll learn a lot more about our team. It’s a great opportunity to improve,” UA head coach Sean Miller said. “I think learning more about our personnel. There’s a lot of even battles throughout our team, minutes wise. It will continue to give us more information as a staff.”

Arizona’s yet to decide on a starting point guard or center. The Wildcats are counting on four freshmen to contribute immediately. Kyle Fogg is settling into a new role and Jesse Perry put together an impressive summer that should show on the court.

With that said, here are five things to watch during tonight’s game against the Falcons:

1. A point of decision

While freshman point guard Josiah Turner comes in as a five-star recruit, sophomore Jordin Mayes remains a steady option at that position for the Wildcats.

Mayes averaged a solid 4.6 points per game while shooting 45.3 percent from three during his freshman season, and really came on toward the end of the season despite playing through a stress fracture in his foot.

Miller knows what he’ll get with Mayes. He’ll control the tempo and give the Wildcats a shooting threat, but Turner provides intrigue with his pass-first mentality and athleticism. It remains to be seen who will get the start and the bulk of the minutes, but Miller and his staff will tip their hand tonight.

2. Man in the middle

Arizona’s battle at center is extremely similar to its point guard situation. Coaches know what they’ll get with Kyryl Natyazhko: a solid defender and rebounder with a decent outside touch, but without much of a post game or mean streak.

Johnson, on the other hand, brings excitement, athleticism and toughness. Natyazhko has the upper hand due to his junior status, but the competition is neck and neck.

“With them two you never know. It’s a day-to-day basis,” said junior forward Solomon Hill. “I don’t think a lot of people expected Kyryl to go out there and play like he did in the Red-Blue Game.”

3. Senior leaders

Fogg is seen as soft-spoken and took a backseat to Momo Jones and Derrick Williams last season. Perry was nothing but the junior college transfer who thrived on tenacity and toughness.

But the two seniors are now being asked to lead the Wildcats. It will be interesting to see how they do in these new roles, and Miller is fully confident that they’ll get the job done.

“Jesse Perry and Kyle Fogg are two players that a lot of coaches would love to have,” Miller said. “They work really hard in trying to win and help the younger players get better.”

4. How ready are Nick Johnson and Angelo Chol to contribute?

Nick Johnson showed what he can do in the Red-Blue Game, but it’s intriguing to find out his role and how he’ll perform in his first collegiate game. Miller called him an every day player, who performs the same on Monday as he does on Friday. He should play as advertised, but how much he’ll play over Fogg and at what positions remains to be seen.

Chol on the other hand, is a bit of a question mark. His skills are there, but if he’s ready for the mental aspect of the game is still a question.

“I think Chol really needs to step up with how he communicates,” Hill said. “He’s really a soft-spoken guy.”

5. Who’s Arizona’s go-to guy?

The Wildcats most likely won’t be needing a clutch performer against Division II Seattle Pacific, but they still don’t have a clearly defined go-to player. Is it Fogg, who struggles at times creating his own shot? Is it Perry who isn’t the prototypical back-to-the basket post player? Or is it Hill, who remains a bit of a tweener? That should come to light to some degree tonight in McKale Center.

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