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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Pro/Con: Should hoops go big or go small?

    Going small presents best lineup

    The best teams in basketball, both professional and college, have a distinctive style, forcing opponents into playing their kind of game and then beating them at it.

    For the Arizona men’s basketball team, that means going small, pushing the tempo and forcing teams to match up or be lost in their tracks.

    In doing so, forward Chase Budinger would join a lineup that most certainly will include guards Mustafa Shakur and Jawann McClellan and forwards Marcus Williams and Ivan Radenovic, leaving center Kirk Walters on the bench.

    UA head coach Lute Olson has said he hopes to push the tempo faster than any of his up-tempo Arizona teams ever have, emulating the Phoenix Suns’ high-powered attack.

    The Suns play best with a wing at power forward, Shawn Marion in their case and Williams for the Wildcats, causing opponents to match up to them.

    How many lineups have the athleticism to match up with a quick, athletic starting five, all of whom can shoot like Arizona would have? That’s what I thought.

    Some teams would inevitably try to match the Wildcats and get into a track meet, which should play right into Arizona’s hands

    The obvious downside to having the 205-pound Williams at the four spot and Radenovic at the five would be rebounding and interior defense.

    But with Shakur and McClellan being much better rebounders than your average guards, and with their ability to immediately start the break off the rebound, the Wildcats’ transition offense should soften the blow.

    This starting lineup gives Arizona options galore off the bench.

    They could go big with Walters, get lockdown perimeter defense from guard Daniel Dillon, 3s from guard Nic Wise and more versatility from forward Fendi Onobun.

    Plus, Olson has won playing small before, when a squad led by guards Mike Bibby, Miles Simon, Michael Dickerson and Jason Terry cut down the nets in 1997.

    With Shakur studying Nash this summer and with the Wildcats wanting to play as up-tempo as they can go, Arizona needs three gazelles at the wings to run with Shakur.

    -Michael Schwartz, sports editor

    Bigger is better

    You know the motto. “”Go big or go home.””

    This year’s Wildcats have enough talent and depth to either go big or go small without being sent home, but with either Jawann McClellan or Chase Budinger coming off the bench in a sixth-man role, like Jason Terry did in 1997, Arizona’s second unit would get an added boost of energy.

    If Kirk Walters comes back to full speed or if the Wildcats decide to start Mohamed Tangara or Jordan Hill, Arizona has a guy on the floor whose sole job is to rebound and block shots, allowing the four other starters to worry about scoring.

    In addition, going big means both Ivan Radenovic and Marcus Williams don’t have to play out of position. Against bigger teams, Williams and Radenovic, arguably Arizona’s No. 1 and No. 2 options on offense, respectively, will take an unnecessary pounding defensively.

    Williams, who’s a natural perimeter player with a knack for scoring on mid-range jump shots and drives to the basket, would play more of a role made infamous by Hassan Adams, who failed to develop into a consistent wing player. Though Williams has already developed more than Adams at the same stage, and despite the fact that Arizona’s offense at times allows for four perimeter players and one post player, his NBA position is at small forward, and playing inside more doesn’t necessarily put him in the best position in the eyes of scouts.

    UA head coach Lute Olson said this year’s team will press full court less and rely more on three-quarter court and half-court traps. In half-court sets, Arizona relies on aggressive man-to-man defense or a 1-3-1 zone Olson likes to use.

    In either scenario, a shot blocker such as Tangara or Walters is needed to protect Arizona’s insistent perimeter defense.

    At some point, both lineups will see action, but to start, go big.

    – Roman Veytsman, assistant sports editor

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