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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hoops to go big vs. Aggies

    Freshman forward Jordan Hill denies NAU forward Kyle Landry with a block near the basket in No. 15 Arizonas 101-79 win over NAU Wednesday in McKale Center. Hill started the second half and blocked three shots in the game, to go along with his eight points and four rebounds.
    Freshman forward Jordan Hill denies NAU forward Kyle Landry with a block near the basket in No. 15 Arizona’s 101-79 win over NAU Wednesday in McKale Center. Hill started the second half and blocked three shots in the game, to go along with his eight points and four rebounds.

    The experiment could be coming to an end.

    After starting an athletic lineup that included only one post player for the first two games of the season, UA head coach Lute Olson said he anticipates playing with two post players most of the time when No. 15 Arizona (1-1) takes on New Mexico State (1-0) Sunday at 2 p.m. in McKale Center.

    That could mean more playing time for freshman forward Jordan Hill, who started the second half and played 13 minutes Wednesday against NAU, when Arizona went to two post players for most of the half.

    “”You can see why we’re excited about Jordan Hill’s potential,”” Olson said. “”He makes it tough for other people to get to the basket and get shots, and he’s learning every day, but the good thing with him is he wants to learn. He really wants to be a player, and he’ll work hard.””

    If Arizona decided to go big this year, senior center Kirk Walters was expected to enter the starting lineup, but with Walters out indefinitely with mono, that responsibility will likely fall to Hill.

    “”With Kirk out and struggling with injuries and things like that, that’s what we miss down there, blocked shots, helping us out,”” guard Mustafa Shakur said.

    Said Olson: “”Jordan’s a guy who’s going to have to step up.””

    Against the Lumberjacks, Hill made himself known by defending the paint and skying high to block a team-high three shots and change a few others.

    He also scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds.

    “”He’s a shot blocker with great timing,”” forward Marcus Williams said. “”He really is aggressive as far as on the defensive end, and he’s learning on the offensive end. He finishes well around the basket, so he’s perfect.””

    Olson likes the lineup with two bigs because he said he was disappointed in the first half of the NAU game that many players waited to get screens instead of screening themselves. With Hill and forwards Ivan Radenovic and Bret Brielmaier playing the majority of the second half at the post spots, Arizona outscored the Lumberjacks by 14 and opened the half on a 34-11 run.

    “”I thought in the second half, our post guys really did a good job of getting them open,”” Olson said, “”and it also showed that guys came off of that and kicked it back to the post guys who got really good looks.””

    After allowing 93 points in the season opener at Virginia, including 57 on 59.3 percent shooting in the second half, Arizona improved its numbers but not enough to make Olson happy.

    The Wildcats still allowed 79 points to the Big Sky Conference Lumberjacks, including 48.6 percent shooting in the first half.

    “”I could tell you right now our defense is awful,”” Olson said.

    But Hill could be part of that solution, patrolling the paint like no Wildcat since Channing Frye, Shakur said, and possibly with an increased role when the Wildcats play the second game of a four-game homestand against the Aggies before the nonconference schedule gets considerably tougher.

    “”It’s always good to go back home and get the home crowd feel,”” Williams said. “”We came back in our comfort zone again (against NAU), getting our confidence back, so let’s get on a little winning streak.””

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