Blog Entry

An Eval of the Cats - Mid-Term Grades

Posted on: February 1, 2009 1:22 pm

February 1, 2009 1:02 pm

At the start of the Pac 10 season, I posted this eval .  Let's see how things are progressing.

It's clear that some of the role players have not stepped up in practice to earn playing time:
  1. Lavender is probably my own biggest disappointment because he looked really good pre-season.
  2. From what I've read and heard I understand why Pennell is not playing Onabun as much...I think this will change as the season wears on.
  3. Garland Judkins was averaging about 17 minutes for the season, but much less over the last several games, so clearly he hasn't emerged from the doghouse he got himself in.

Lavender has been non-existent except in brief, spot roles.  The only guy on the team averaging fewer points is Shumpert (aka next year's Bagga).  Brendon got his mid-season tryout in the Houston game (10 minutes), made a free throw, grabbed a rebound and steal, and fouled someone.  Good thing he's from Arizona or he'd be a flight risk.  Maybe that's not a good thing.  Grade: D

Fendi is far and away my favorite player in terms of quality of character..he's this year's Mo Tangara.  He's also proof that the work ethic is still alive and well.  After Jacobson lost his mind with 3 fouls in one minute against Washington, Fendi moved into the spot behind Hill.  Grade: B+

Judkins is everything typical of a freshman who's getting limited minutes (averaging 13): trying to do too much with the ball, leaving his feet and then looking for the pass, etc.  He'll grow up, but that's going to take (playing) time.  Racking up 3 TO's in 10 minutes of game time don't help, though.  Grade: C

In other cases, things have turned out as expected:

  1. Horne has definitely proven to be the x-factor on the team, as well as a significant source of turnovers...I guess he fancies himself an NBA guard.
  2. Hill not only has a nice mid-range jumper, but has developed his left hand for shooting (though not blocking).  The game against UNLV exposed Hill's slow post move...I'd put this top of his list to develop.
  3. Budinger is team leader whether he wants to be or not, and it's clear the team looks to him for scoring...when he's lost or in a funk that can be a major weakness for Arizona.

Horne is definitely the x-factor, though not quite in the way I expected at least.  When he's on, he's a major lift for the team, rebounding above the rim, hitting a short jumper or throwing down a monster dunk.  When he's off, such as against WSU, he literally kills Arizona's momentum, making dumb fouls away from the basket, overdribbling and turning the ball over, or taking shots outside his range.  His 11 points, 5 assists, and 14 rebounds in the last three games are heavily offset by his 6 turnovers and 9 fouls.  Grade: C

Hill is star of the class.  To think how far he's come is mind-boggling.  He's now using both hands around the rim, has significantly improved his post move, and is playing himself straight into the NBA.  30 points and 18 rebounds against Houston?  Unreal.  He's averaging a double-double: 18 points and 12 boards.  Grade: A

Would the real Chase Budinger please stand up?  I think he did, thanks to a now infamous face-stomp (I still stand by my suggestion of planting a footprint on his pre-game jersey from here on out).  Team Leader Chase now appears to have arrived, and his resilience against WSU -- not giving up even when shots weren't falling -- demonstrated this.  If he keeps this up, he'll join Hill at the top of the class.  Grade: B-

Some are exceeding expectations:

  1. Fogg figured out very quickly (for a freshman) that defense wins games and earns playing time.  Now if he can just gain the confidence to take those open looks he gets...
  2. Jacobson has contributed minutes (9/game), presence (esp. the big line-up), and even a few rebounds.  Admittely, my expectation of him was so low that even playing is an accomplishment, but still...
  3. Wise is generally making good decisions, and it's abundantly clear how valuable his presence on the court is.  Add to that some significant scoring (15 ppg) and assists (5 apg) and he's certainly improved upon last season.  Now if only we could put in an electric fence to keep him away from the rim...

I'm sure the Pac 10 voters will pick Jrue Holiday or Isaiah Thomas as Freshman of the Year, but in my book it has to be Kyle Fogg.  Three straight games with double-digit points -- including 15 of 16 free throw shooting -- and 9 rebounds (for a 6-2 guard).  Looks like he found that confidence.  Now to improve that Assist/TO ratio...  Grade: B+

Alex Jacobson.  Ajax.  As in please scrub any memory of this guy.  His jersey number shouldn't be 50, it should be 0, because that's what he contributes.  He's the only player on the team whose stats actually go up when he sits.  The line I'd like to see for him the rest of the season: Did Not Play.  Grade: F

Nic Wise is a split personality of remarkable athletic talent and glaring lack of self-awareness wrapped in a Napoleon complex with a veneer of brilliance and toughness.  If that sounds like a mixed compliment, it is.  As Wise goes, generally so too does Arizona.  When he overpenetrates, opponents surround him, take the ball away, and storm downcourt (see Oregon, USC, Houston).  When he works the perimeter passing, Chase and Zane and Kyle and Nic himself get open looks or lanes to slash to the basket (see USC, Washington).  Lines such as against Washington -- with 29 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals -- show just what Wise is capable of doing.  Unfortunately, so does the ASU game -- 6 points, 1 assist, and fouled out.  Some games Nic has me longing for the return of Jason Gardner, other times I think it's the second coming.  Grade: B-

Extra Credit: Zane Johnson.  Maybe he'll never be Steve Kerr, but his contributions couldn't have come at a better time.

MID-TERM GRADE(14-8 Overall, 4-5 Pac-10): B-

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Arizona, Wildcats
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