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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Life after Williams

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The No. 18 Arizona Wildcats hosted the Oregon Ducks in a Pacific 10 Conference basketball game Saturday, March 5, 2011, in McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats finished a perfect 17-0 at home and locked up the regular season Pac-10 Championship with a 90-82 win.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The No. 18 Arizona Wildcats hosted the Oregon Ducks in a Pacific 10 Conference basketball game Saturday, March 5, 2011, in McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats finished a perfect 17-0 at home and locked up the regular season Pac-10 Championship with a 90-82 win.

Derrick Williams is officially off to the NBA, and by hiring an agent, his decision guarantees the Arizona Wildcats basketball team will need to fill his spot in the starting line-up by committee.

His departure brings the Wildcats’ roster to 14, meaning they are a couple spots over the allowed 12 scholarships. With incoming freshmen in guards Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson along with forwards Sidiki Johnson and Angelo Chol looking to make an immediate impact, here are some scenarios to ponder.

Who will be the leading scorer?

The Wildcats have 19.5 points per game to replace, and don’t expect it to be done by any way other than committee.

To take an obvious approach, guard Kyle Fogg will be a senior and has shown the ability to put up points in the past. But don’t expect him to deviate much from this year’s Fogg, a savvy passer who put most of his energy into locking down opposing 2-guards.

That leaves room for forwards Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom — if he’s healthy — taking on more aggressive roles. Each has the skill-set and capability to be the team’s leading scorer, Hill especially.

He showed flashes of his aggressiveness in the postseason by being a strong one-on-one player, dropping 16 points on Texas’s Jordan Hamilton, and is the closest of any of the returners to having NBA-level athleticism and talent.

The other option to lead Arizona in scoring would be guard Momo Jones, the second-leading scorer for the Wildcats in 2010-11 by averaging 9.7 points per game. But barring any transfers, Jones will be splitting time with back-up Jordin Mayes and Turner at point guard, meaning the top scorer is unlikely to come from the point guard slot.

How do opposing defenses adapt, and how does it affect Arizona?

This could be the biggest adjustment to losing Williams.

Comfortable with defenses collapsing on the forward, Arizona will likely react by becoming more of a drive-and-kick team.

With an expected guard-heavy rotation next year, head coach Sean Miller said in his season-ending press conference that “”what worked last year isn’t going to work this year.””

That hints that Arizona could run out three guards at a time.

Lanes will be more open, and defenses will be more man-to-man against the Wildcats, so don’t expect Arizona to shoot as well from the 3-point arc as they did when sinking guards would leave Fogg or Parrom to help on Williams.

But on the bright side, that gives Arizona a spread-out, ball-handler heavy offense — think the Sweet 16 Duke game, where Williams even spent most of his time on the perimeter.

This will play to the Wildcats’ advantage, with ultra-athletic Nick Johnson likely to see some time and fellow freshman Turner doing what he does best, penetrating for the score or finding teammates.

In the end, this will be a huge adjustment for Arizona strategically, and expect a period for them to feel it out. Ultimately, Miller has recruited the athletes to make the transition less harsh.

Who patrols the paint?

Losing Williams hurts from a size perspective.

Miller will rely heavily upon Jesse Perry, who will be a senior in his second year at Arizona, but the head coach said Perry won’t be playing at the 200-210 pounds he did this season.

To finish the season strongly, Perry earned honors in the All-Regional team in Anaheim, Calif., averaging 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games against Duke and UConn.

Along with Perry, the development of center Kyryl Natyazhko becomes crucial in providing a solid defensive presence inside. He’ll have help with rugged Sidiki Johnson and possibly a lanky shot-blocker in Chol, though Chol himself could struggle early on with his slight, 210-pound frame.

Either way it’s sliced, players will need to step up in the rebounding department to replace Williams.

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