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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Brendon Lavender’s role supports Arizona’s bench contribution

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Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Daily Wildcat boys; basketball;

Brendon Lavender always has to be ready.

As the go-to 3-point bench option for the Wildcats, the senior knows he has one role: When he steps onto the court, it’s to shoot a three.

“That’s my job so that’s all I do,” Lavender said.

And that’s what head coach Sean Miller wants him to do.

“I think it’s a sign that one of the signs that we have to have in place is contribution from the bench,” Miller said. “A team of depth and a lot of moving parts where on a given night we can generate good play on offense, not just from the five starters, but from guys that come off the bench.”

The Wildcats had 48 bench points on Thursday, and Lavender contributed with a career-high 18 points. “It’s a pretty cool feeling,” he said.

The senior hit six 3-point field goals in Arizona’s 100-60 win over Bryant University on Thursday, including a five-minute stretch that saw him go 5-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Last season, the senior from Mesa, Ariz., hit four three-pointers twice, with the last bombardment coming against Idaho State on Nov. 14, 2010. This season he shoots 57.7 percent and is a threat at any point in the game.

His six threes weren’t enough to break into the Arizona record books, but it helped to secure a 40-point blowout win over the Bryant University Bulldogs, something the Wildcats desperately needed.

Miller called Lavender’s performance something that’s “very difficult to do,” but Lavender’s contribution is something the Wildcats will need to see more of this year, especially if they want to keep the offensive pace that they’ve established in the past two games.

This season, Lavender averages four minutes per game, but on Thursday, he played 11 minutes and was able to get into a groove. Players started looking for Lavender, especially in transition and during his 5-5 streak.

“I’m always in with (Lavender) if I see him open, I always try to look out for him,” junior Kevin Parrom said. “I know he can shoot, so I’m going to get the shooter the ball.”

Lavender stood out as Arizona’s leading scorer in the end, but in the final score, his 18 points weren’t a difference maker. When Lavender hit his first 3-pointer of the second half, the Wildcats were already ahead by 31 points.

With the increase in minutes on Thursday, Lavender showed Miller that he can still be a 3-point threat, but can also provide consistent offense in a game where his points might actually make a difference.

“Last year, when he was part of that first rotation right off the bench, he was part of a group that played very well at a high pace,” Miller said, “and we need to see that from him during the Pac-12 schedule.”

With an emphasis on keeping an up-tempo pace, Lavender fits into an increased role as the Wildcats enter conference play. Lavender said he doesn’t have “trouble” coming off the bench, and his performance against Bryant could give Miller the confidence to increase Lavender’s ability to contribute as the season progresses.

Regardless of how much playing time he gets, Lavender knows what’s expected of him.

“I’m ready whenever I get in the game,” Lavender said. “That’s my main focus. Coach always tells me to be ready and I’m always ready.”

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