By Roman Veytsman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
The gap between Arizona's best 3-point shooter and the rest of the unranked squad is staggering. Freshman forward Marcus Williams, maybe the least-expected gunslinger at the beginning of the season, is shooting 46.2 percent from long range, while Arizona's second-best deep shooter is currently freshman walk-on David Bagga, who is one for three on the season. The solution, said Arizona head coach Lute Olson, is to stop shooting 3-pointers all together.
"We're not going to shoot the threes," Olson said. And if they do? Olson said every 3-point shot for guys not named Marcus Williams will earn the player a seat on the bench. "We've played 20 games now, and if someone is shooting in the 20 percents from 3-point range, that's killing us, and particularly when we have people like Hassan (Adams) who's so effective inside 15 feet and taking it to the basket," Olson said.
Adams is shooting just 27.8 percent from long distance while attempting the most 3-pointers on the team, not counting departed senior guard Chris Rodgers. Junior forward Ivan Radenovic (31.6 percent) and junior point guard Mustafa Shakur (29.4 percent) are not doing much better.
"We've given them enough to prove that they can or cannot shoot them, and we're going to have them concentrate on getting ready for more 3-point shots at the end of the season," Olson said.
Historically, the Wildcats have had shooters along the lines of Salim Stoudamire, Mike Bibby and Steve Kerr to handle the responsibilities. Olson said it's time to put a stop to what has become one of the staples of the program.
"Marcus is shooting 46 percent, fine, he's proven he can shoot it," Olson said. "If you're shooting in the 20 percents you've proven that you can't shoot it. We can't experiment any longer."
Williams back in Seattle
After receiving word that his maternal grandfather is ill, Williams flew directly from Raleigh, N.C., to Washington.
"His mother requested for him to come home for a few days," Olson said.
Williams flew back to Tucson last night but was not able to practice. Olson said the team will hold off on preparations for Southern California (Feb. 2) until Williams is back.
Adams, who scored just 12 points in the loss to North Carolina, has been ill for almost an entire week.
"He went through six very difficult days of trying keep his strength up and keep his hydration up," Olson said. Olson was not happy with Adams' play this season despite his illness.
"He's not taking advantage of his considerable strengths and instead has been dealing with weakness," Olson said. "He needs to understand he's a scorer, and he's not Salim Stoudamire."
"He's been much more aggressive in his first two years than he's been now," Olson said. One of the stats the coaching staff has charted is rebounds per minute, and Adams, who is second on the team in rebounding at 5.7, is sixth in rebounds per minute.
"That's not acceptable and certainly shouldn't be acceptable for him," Olson said.
Olson hopes to have Adams and Williams back at full strength for the upcoming games in Los Angeles, Adams' hometown.
"Hopefully when Marcus gets back tonight, he's going to have that under control because both of them we're obviously hurting on the defensive end of the court and on the boards. They just did not have the energy at North Carolina like we needed," Olson said.
Arizona has found times tough offensively, and the team has recently begun to experience breakdowns defensively as well. The Tar Heels shot a season high on field goals and had their second-best performance from 3-point range. Freshman forward Tyler Hansbrough had 21 points and 11 rebounds against the Wildcats despite being consistently double-teamed.
"The breakdowns (on Tyler Hansbrough) were not from the four and five," Olson said. "The breakdowns were from the lack of our wing guys covering when he came up and under."
Arizona also forced just 13 turnovers and allowed UNC to run what they wanted to run, according to Olson.
"We're not playing great team 'D' right now. All it takes is one man to let his guard down and that lets the whole team down," freshman forward J.P. Prince said. "That's what happened, we're not getting help-side, we're not doubling right, we're letting them get easy rebounds, tip-ins. We're getting out-hustled basically."
The dying Sports Arena
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone with fond memories of the Sports Arena, home of USC's basketball team, much less Olson. When Olson was offered the Trojans' head coaching job in 1979, the administration promised him a new building, but the Galen Center will be opened only next season.
"I'll cry crocodile tears," Olson said sarcastically. "Such a wonderful basketball facility, there's so much electricity when you walk in."
As for the lack of noise from USC's sparse crowds, Olson said the atmosphere was far from their last game in Chapel Hill, N.C.
"You can hear the ball bounce all the way down court, and I don't think we heard the ball bounce once in North Carolina, nor did we at ASU," Olson said.
We need 20
At 13-7, Radenovic said the magic number for the Wildcats is "over 20."
"There's nine games left in the conference and then we need to do our job in the Pacific 10 tournament before March Madness," Radenovic said.