Posted on: December 16, 2008 2:43 pm

Week Preview: Gonzaga & UNLV

Okay, so I screwed up and didn't do a preview for Gonzaga on my blog. My bad. Check out the Arizona - Gonzaga thread that AZCATSFAN started, and the post game thread that was started for my thoughts on that game. Sorry 'bout not getting it on here before the game.

After upsetting the fourth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs in Phoenix, the Wildcats now travel to Las Vegas to face off against UNLV. I for one, am worried about an emotional let down leading to the 'Cats getting upset by the Rebels. Arizona has to remain focused and intent upon their game plan because while UNLV isn't a great team, or as good as they have been in previous years, they are still a proud team with a strong home-court advantage. The Rebels are currently 8-2 with both losses (CAL & Cincy) coming at home.

The Rebels are a guard-propelled team that is a surprisingly good rebounding team despite their lack of height. But everything else about them is merely average in every regard. They give up 64 points a game while scoring 71. They shoot around 40% from the field, 30% from beyond the arc, and 67% from the charity stripe.  There isn't a single aspect of their game that makes you go "look out."

But they quietly put together solid efforts because as a unit they are a team that does the "little things" that can often be the deciding factor in a close game.

The Rebels are led by PG Wink Adams who averages 14.2 ppg, has taken nearly 1/3 of the Rebels free throws this season, but is a poor shooter from the field, currently shooting .163 from beyond the arc.Rene Rougeau and Tre'Von Willis are averaging 10.1 points a piece and are tied for second on the leading scorers board, and fill the SG and SF position.  Neither one is spectacular beyond the arc, but Rougeau crashes the boards (averaging nearly 6 a game).

'Cats Keys:

  1. Make 'em shoot: Force Adams, Rougeau and Willis into taking long jumpshots as they are better around the rim and aren't pure shooters. Limit points in the paint to fewer than 16.
  2. Third times a charm: Get the ball to Hill - again. Hill should reach 20 points for the third consecutive game against the smaller Rebels.
  3. Come ready: Jump UNLV from the start. Score 15-20 points in the first 10 minutes.
  4. Play Smart: Arizona is the better team in this game, but if they play careless or unmotivated they are sitting ducks. Limit turnovers to 12 or fewer, or have a TO difference of -4.


Posted on: October 17, 2008 8:01 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2008 12:34 am

Arizona Wildcats '08-'09 Preview

Arizona Wildcats

Head Coach: Mike Dunlap
Last Season’s Results: Conf. 9-11 (6th), Overall 19-15. Post Season:  NCAA Tournament


Chances are, if you read this in previous days/weeks you will want to reread it. I had to change the outlook when Lute Olson suddenly announced retirement due to health issues (primarily a stroke which inhibited his ability to coach). Now, with the announcement of freshman center Jeff Withey transferring things look completely different for the Wildcats yet again.

Backcourt: Arizona looks as though they will start Nic Wise, Chase Budinger, and Jamelle Horne on the perimeter with Brandon Lavender and Kyle Fogg coming off the bench. With that lineup it should be very reminiscent to the ‘06-’07 team that featured Budinger, Marcus Williams, and Mustafa Shakur. Budinger should have a career year as he becomes the go-to guy this year.

Horne looks to benefit the most with Arizona not having a proven point guard, and additional help in the front court as he will mostly play SF now instead of PF. Horne is athletic, quick, and has a much better game than the impression he gave last year thanks to lack of PT. Because of the lack of depth in the frontcourt, Horne could see plenty of time at the PF position with either Brandon Lavendar or Kyle Fogg taking some time on the wings as Arizona would look to go small and hopefully gain an advantage.

Frontcourt: Jordan Hill will once again feature Arizona’s frontcourt. He’s made significant strides every year at Arizona, and never at his natural power forward position. Unfortunately, that will be the case again this year with the sudden departure of Jeff Withey. The ‘Cats are hoping that Hills foul troubles from last season will diminish, and need them to with only 4 front court players on the roster, and only Hill and Onobun expected to contribute significant minutes.

Chances are because of the leadership that Onobun provides and his solid efforts he will start. Once again Hill will be shifted out of his natural power forward position to center with Onobun taking the power forward rolde.

Bench: Kyle Fogg and Brandon Lavendar and Zane Johnson will be the first players off the bench, as Arizona will run a 4 guard lineup a lot this year due to the lack of depth in the frontcourt. As Arizona looks to their bench Budinger and Horne will likely see time at power forward until Alex Jacobson and Darnell Shumpert prove to be viable options - if they ever prove to be.

Key Departures: Jerryd Bayless and Jawann McClellan both said their farewells to the Wildcats after last season. Bayless was the leading scorer, and the leader on the team. While McClellan was inconsistent last year as well as his entire carreer. Both were starters and impact players for the 'Cats though.

 Arizona's biggest loss came from the bench though. Lute Olson has officially retired leaving a wake of decommitted recruits (both last year and this coming year). More interesting is that the entire coaching staff is new this year. No more Josh Pastner to develop talent like Jordan Hill. No more Bozo the Clown...err Kevin O'Neill to swear at players, coaches, refs, and fans alike. No more iconic alumn with no real coaching talent in Miles Simon. It's a new class of coaches - maybe one that can help bring the 'Cats along until next year.

Key Recruits:

SG- Brendon Lavender unranked - Another Mountain View (same school that produced Richard Jefferson). This kid exploded from his Sophomore (4.3 ppg) to his Senior  (21.0 ppg) year in high school. Olson is betting that that kind of dramatic growth will continue. Expect to see him in the starting lineup at some point this season because of Arizona’s need for a true SG and how well he fits into Olson’s system.

SG- Kyle Fogg #40 SG - A quick guard with the ability to shoot the three and some ability to create his own shot.
*Click on recruit names that are linked for their highlight video.

Strengths: Arizona returns a good portion of its offense from last year in Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, and Nic Wise.  Budinger and Hill will headline the season for the ‘Cats as both are the best in the conference at their position and will likely wind up as lottery or first round picks in the NBA draft.

Weaknesses: Arizona’s defense has been unacceptable the last few seasons, and now with an undersized point guard, in Nic Wise, Arizona will continue to have trouble applying pressure on the perimeter. Arizona still has a huge question mark in regards to shooting guard. They are lacking one more player who can create their own shot any time they want. Their bench is also terribly thin.

Key Dates:
Dec. 5 @ Texas A&M
Dec 14 vs. Gonzaga @ America West Arena
Dec 23 vs. Kansas
Jan 15 @ USC
Jan 17 @ UCLA
Jan 21 Arizona State

 Typically success is easily measured for the Wildcats: Beat ASU and UCLA, win the PAC-10 title, win 20 plus games, finish in the Top 25, and reach the Sweet 16.  Arizona failed to accomplish any of those feats last season and looks to return to their winning ways with more questions than answers. Now Arizona's measuring stick has to change for the foreseeable future. A successful season for these 'Cats will be to remain out of the PAC-10's cellar. It will be about player development, and simply avoiding getting blown out by UCLA and other perrenial power houses.

Arizona has already faced more obstacles this season than most teams face all year, and they've yet to play in their first game. Nic Wise, Jordan Hill, and Chase Budinger will lead this team. Can they overcome the obstacles and bring the young guys up to speed? It would be a pleasant surprise for Tucson and a wonderful gift for Coach Olson. They've got pride and tradition, but it's going to take a lot more than that to continue the NCAA Tournament streak.

Projected Finish: Sixth in the PAC-10

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com