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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Controlling the glass

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Wildcats topped Augustana College 92-76 Wednesday night at McKale Center.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Wildcats topped Augustana College 92-76 Wednesday night at McKale Center.

Believe it or not, he’s no magician.

A platoon of big men isn’t something head coach Sean Miller has in his top hat, and after the Wildcats’ 92-76 thrashing of Augustana College, one of his main concerns was, ta-da, rebounding.

“”The main things coach said in the locker room was maturity, defense and rebounding,”” senior Nic Wise said after the game. “”(Augustana is) about the same size as us tonight, and we ended up beating them on the boards but barely. We’re going to play a lot bigger, tougher, stronger teams, more athletic. We’re going to have to box guys out and come up with defensive rebounds more often.””

Obviously, there was no question which team was more athletic as Arizona found ways to throw down alley-oop passes and jump into passing lanes throughout the night. On the other hand, Augusta didn’t even show their ability to touch the rim.

Those physical skills didn’t translate to success.

While Arizona held a 41-34 rebounding advantage — it could have been more uneven had the Wildcats not missed so many easy layups — its core rebounders often found themselves lost in finding a man to box out. On the same token, Arizona forced the Vikings into a poor shooting percentage, something that padded their rebounding numbers.

That fact was shown in the final offensive rebounding numbers, where the Vikings grabbed 13 to Arizona’s 11, doing so through technique and physicality rather than relying on pure athleticism, giving the young Wildcat team a fine example of how much work lies ahead.

“”As scary as it is, to me,”” Miller said, “”they had their way on the offensive glass. It’s an area of concern for us.””

Who’ll do the dirty work?

Forward Jamelle Horne wasn’t one to misuse his athleticism against Augustana, skying high for 10 boards in just 19 minutes of play.

“”Jamelle Horne is right now among our best players,”” Miller said. “”He played tonight like he’s practiced. He rebounds the ball better than anyone on our team.””

But Miller has yet to find another player to assist Horne on the glass.

Freshman 6-foot-10-inch center Kyryl Natyazhko had six rebounds in 19 minutes, but sometimes found smaller players outworking him. He and fellow freshman forward Derrick Williams, who grabbed four boards in 13 minutes before leaving with an ankle sprain, are works in progress in that department. Learning to play hard on 100 percent of possessions is something the entire team is still learning.

That’s not to say the big men have to do the brunt of the rebounding themselves. Miller hopes they find help from some of the wings.

“”We want them to go after the ball,”” Miller said. “”You know, Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom in particular, we really need those two guys to rebound not only on offense but on defense.

“”They’re versatile, they’re athletic and they can do it,”” he added. “”We clearly need them to do it.””

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