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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: How does Arizona men’s basketball match up with Oregon next season?

Tyler Baker
Arizona center Chance Comanche attempts to dunk past an Oregon defender during the Pac-12 tournament on Friday, March 11.

Next season’s Arizona men’s basketball team finds itself in quite a unique situation.

Head coach Sean Miller has put together a star-studded recruiting class; starters Allonzo Trier and Kadeem Allen return, but they have a new challenge. Although USC is returning almost everyone and UCLA is bringing in a great class, two teams stand atop the Pac-12 Conference.

Although Arizona should be a top-10 team next year, the Oregon Ducks still stand in its way. Can this team supplant the Ducks as the top dog out West?

While Oregon’s season went out with a whimper due to a monster performance by Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield, the Ducks could be better than ever next season, despite the target on their back.

The Ducks return every starter except forward Elgin Cook, but they should be able to overcome that loss. With the tandem of Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey on the wings and Chris Boucher playing inside and outside, Oregon has one of the best trios in the Pac-12, if not the entire country.

It also doesn’t hurt having three-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year Dana Altman putting them in the best position to succeed.

Whoever mans the point for Arizona has to do a better job at keeping turnovers to a minimum since that is what killed the Wildcats last year. Despite hitting 10 of its first 11 shots against the Ducks, Arizona lost the turnover battle 19 to six and fell at home to Oregon 83-75. In the second matchup at the Pac-12 Tournament, Arizona’s furious rally came short as the Wildcats overcame a 17-point lead, but lost in overtime.

The Wildcats can beat Oregon, but they cannot face the Ducks and themselves next go-round. Be it Allen, Parker Jackson-Cartwright or Kobi Simmons, next year’s lead general has to keep Arizona from going on turnover sprees that lead to easy Ducks buckets.

One interesting tactic Arizona could use is placing Rawle Alkins at the four-position when facing the Ducks.

The freshmen guard may be only 6 feet 5 inches, but he could be Arizona’s best counter to Brooks. Aside from possibly Ray Smith, Alkins seems to be Arizona’s best defender and has the best combination of size and strength to deter Brooks. If Smith has the task of hounding Brooks, then Alkins can focus on containing secondary scorer Dorsey, keeping Trier and Terrance Ferguson fresh for offense.

Unlike last year’s team, the 2016 team has multiple wing defenders capable of harassing Oregon’s many scoring threats and should be better equipped to matchup with them. While Arizona may not be conference champs next season, it is sure going to be fun to watch.

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