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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Is defense the key to Arizona’s future?

    Defense leads to offense

    Ever heard a crowd chant “”Offense! Offense! Offense!””? No.

    It’s always “”Defense! Defense! Defense!””

    This is because the big D (and I don’t mean Dallas) is the key to unlocking the winning doors, which lead to tournament chances. For Arizona, the door is currently jammed, but that’s just because the Wildcats are not in the right frame of mind.

    Simply put: defense creates offense. In turn, offense produces wins.

    If you’ve got a stingy zone defense that won’t allow your opponent to penetrate to the basket, you force them to take guarded shots from the perimeter. You get deflections and create opportunities to change the momentum of the game.

    Sure, odds are they may make some long baskets, but if you get in their heads, they miss, you grab the boards and score. The egg hatches, and a win is born.

    If they find a way into the lane, you stay on your man and make sure guys like Oregon’s Aaron Brooks don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell at laying it in with seconds left to play.

    If you play defense, you’re going to rebound. If you play defense and rebound, you’re going to shake the other team up. And, if you do those three things together for 40 minutes, then you should be able to control every game.

    “”We have to get to the point where we realize if you’re not a good defensive team then you’re not a good team,”” UA head coach Lute Olson said Saturday after Arizona lost to then-No. 5 UCLA 81-66, the second-worst home loss in Olson’s tenure at Arizona, behind Jan. 27’s 92-64 loss to then-No. 4 North Carolina.

    UCLA had six steals and five blocks Saturday. Arizona had two steals and no blocks. The Bruins had 12 points off turnovers. The Wildcats had six.

    Grab an abacus if you’d like. You do the math.

    Chase Budinger and Marcus Williams can lead the Wildcats to 200 points, but if their opponent has 201, they lose. Opponents’ numbers must be limited, plain and simple.

    If the Wildcats start to listen to the “”Defense!”” chants, they could be cutting the net off the rim in March.

    Lance Madden, staff wirter

    Shooting the key to Arizona’s chances

    The 2006-07 Arizona men’s basketball team will never be confused with the Detroit Pistons as a dominant defensive basketball squad.

    But at the beginning of the year the Wildcats at least looked something like the offensive-minded Phoenix Suns during their 12-game winning streak.

    In fact, after the Stanford game Dec. 30, Suns owner and UA alumus Robert Sarver, sitting in the first few rows, observed that Arizona likes to run, has good passers and moves the ball well, things he could be saying about his pro squad as well.

    What does this mean?

    With the offensive talent Arizona has, the Wildcats could be an offensive juggernaut. Even through their struggles, they still lead the conference in scoring at 80.3 points per game, 11th nationally, and as late as Jan. 7 ranked No. 3 in the country at 86.5 per game.

    A more stunning stat is their shooting percentage in wins compared to losses. Arizona shoots a sizzling 52 percent in wins, with a season high of 65.3 Jan. 4 when the Wildcats literally out-shot Washington, and a mere 42.5 percent in losses, bottoming out at 33.9 percent in the blowout loss to UNC Jan. 27.

    Beside the Carolina game and Saturday’s loss to UCLA, the Wildcats have not lost a game by more than seven. A little better shooting touch would make the difference.

    Plus, the Wildcats have shown flashes of being a strong shooting team, at the beginning of the year especially, and on paper at least could be one of the nation’s premier offensive teams.

    Sure, offense wins games and defense wins championships, but judging by how Arizona has played this year, its best-case scenario involves using its shooting to win a few games in the NCAA Tournament rather than using its defense to win a championship.

    Michael Schwartz, assistant sports editor

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