Race is on for Arizona Wildcats, who end 11-year drought of repeat Sweet 16 appearances

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WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY RATING?:
PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

ARIZONA 84, GONZAGA 61
PRODUCTIVITY RATING

* — STARTERS

Player Pos PP MIN PR
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 43 27 1.593
*Aaron Gordon PF 32 23 1.391
*Nick Johnson SG 28 34 .824
*T.J. McConnell PG 20 34 .588
*Gabe York SG 14 25 .560
*Kaleb Tarczewski C 7 27 .259
Matt Korcheck PF 1 11 .091
LESS THAN 10 MIN
Elliott Pitts SG 1 7 .143
Jacob Hazzard PG 0 1 .000
Jordin Mayes PG -3 9 -.333
Zach Peters C -3 2 -1.500
TOTAL TEAM 140 200 .700

Sean Miller has achieved consecutive Sweet 16 trips three times in his 10 years of coaching

Sean Miller has achieved consecutive Sweet 16 trips three times in his 10 years of coaching

If the strength of a program is based on consecutive NCAA tournament Sweet 16 appearances over an extended period of time, the Arizona Wildcats are one of the best.

Their trip this week to the Sweet 16 in Anaheim, Calif., marks the sixth time over the last 26 years (since their Final Four run 1988) that they have made consecutive appearances that far.

UCLA has achieved five consecutive trips in the same span with the last repeat from 2007 and 2008.

No shocker that Duke has gone in consecutive years 14 times since 1988. Kansas is at 11 but had its three-year streak snapped this year by Stanford. North Carolina and Kentucky have achieved consecutive trips nine times. In somewhat of a surprise, Michigan State is only at seven with Tom Izzo in a current three-year streak. It seems like Izzo is in the Sweet 16 every year.

Louisville has six repeat performances like Arizona, including this season. Florida is now at four, three of which have come under Billy Donovan since 1999.

Guess how many times Jim Boeheim has achieved consecutive trips to the Sweet 16 since the 1987-88 season? The second-leading winning coach in college basketball has achieved only four repeat Sweet 16 performances in that span. He has only five overall dating to his first season in 1976-77. Underachiever?

Sean Miller is up to three now at Xavier and Arizona in only 10 years of coaching. Mark Few, whose name was mentioned as a candidate for the Arizona coaching vacancy at the time Miller was hired in 2009, has only one consecutive Sweet 16 achievement to his credit. And that was in his first two seasons at Gonzaga from 1999-2000 and 2000-2001.


ARIZONA FRESHMAN REBOUND RECORD

Rank Player Season Rebs
1 Aaron Gordon 2013-14 279
2 Bob Elliott 1973-74 278
3 Al Fleming 1972-73 257
4 Michael Wright 1998-99 254
5 Derrick Williams 2009-10 219
6 Channing Frye 2001-02 214
7 Kaleb Tarczewski 2012-13 212
8 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson 2013-14 205
9 Brandon Ashley 2012-13 186
10 Chase Budinger 2006-07 179

After Arizona dismantled Gonzaga 84-61 last night somebody at the press conference asked Miller if he wants to be removed from the list of the best coaches who have yet to reach the Final Four.

“Of course I would like to get off that list, but the way I look at it is, every year you give yourself a chance to compete for a Pac-12 championship, compete for a Pac 12 tournament championship,” said Miller, who is only 45. “We’ve been in the championship game of our own conference tournament three times and lost three heart-breakers, but as much as you focus on the end you have to focus on while we’re there and that’s more important.

“For us, this is our third time in the Sweet 16 in the five years I’ve been at Arizona and what we have to do is be ourselves. It’s going to happen. If we continue to do things the right way. You need some good fortune. Coach (Lute) Olson talks about that all the time. Some of the greatest teams in our program’s history didn’t reach the Final Four and perhaps the one that won the national championship (in 1997) you could put in the category that wasn’t maybe as expected or as talented.”

TOP TEN ARIZONA REBOUNDING TEAMS

Margin Team Avg Opp Games
19.3 1950-51 59.5 40.2 30
9.7 1976-77 46.7 37.0 27
8.9 1992-93 43.1 34.2 28
8.3 1975-76 47.2 38.9 33
8.1 1998-99 41.7 33.6 29
7.7 2013-14 38.4 30.7 36
7.3 1991-92 40.3 33.0 31
7.2 1974-75 46.7 39.5 29
6.8 1977-78 44.0 37.2 26
6.6 2000-01 39.8 33.2 36

The 1996-97 national title was Olson’s best coaching job in his quarter-century at Arizona and not only because the Wildcats won it all. Olson was forced to replace four starters from the previous team that lost to Kansas in the Sweet 16. Reggie Geary, Corey Williams, Ben Davis and Joseph Blair were replaced by Mike Bibby, Michael Dickerson, Bennett Davison and A.J. Bramlett.

Miles Simon and, to a certain extent, Dickerson were the only constants from 1995-96 team that factored into Arizona’s title run. Jason Terry and Bramlett averaged less than 10 minutes a game in 1995-96.

Olson replaced four starters again and reached the Sweet 16 in consecutive years from 2000-01 to 2001-02. The 2000-01 team played in the national title game. In the following, year Arizona lost to Oklahoma in the Sweet 16. Only Jason Gardner was the constant for both teams in the starting lineup. Gilbert Arenas, Richard Jefferson, Michael Wright and Loren Woods in 2001 were replaced by Salim Stoudamire, Luke Walton, Ricky Anderson and Channing Frye in 2002.

Gardner, Stoudamire, Walton, Anderson and Frye returned in 2003 and the Wildcats advanced to the Elite Eight.

Olson’s best two teams, with their starting lineups intact from at least a Sweet 16 the previous year (1998 and 2003), did not go past the Elite Eight.

“The thing that’s captivating about our history is it’s not the Final Fours, we probably have competed for a Final Four 12 times and that’s what you have to do, put yourself in the race,” Miller said. “So we’re in the race.”

Arizona is in the race with a consecutive trip to the Sweet 16 without three starters from last year — Mark Lyons, Solomon Hill and Brandon Ashley. T.J. McConnell, Gabe York and Aaron Gordon have stepped into those roles.

ARIZONA OVERALL PRODUCTIVITY RATING

Player Pos G S PP MIN PR
Nick Johnson SG 36 36 804 1172 .686
Aaron Gordon SF 36 36 697 1109 .628
R. Hollis-Jefferson SF 36 6 559 900 .621
Brandon Ashley PF 22 22 371 609 .609
Kaleb Tarczewski C 34 33 569 968 .588
T.J. McConnell PG 36 36 546 1151 .474
Gabe York SG 36 10 304 772 .394
AVG 5-9.9 MIN
Jordin Mayes PG 32 1 37 183 .202
Elliott Pitts SG 22 0 38 190 .200
AVG 1-4.9 MIN
Chris Johnson PF 4 0 5 6 .833
Jacob Hazzard PG 13 0 21 29 .724
Matt Korcheck PF 22 0 48 102 .471
Erik Conklin F 7 0 6 17 .353
Trey Mason SG 10 0 7 22 .318
Drew Mellon F 6 0 2 12 .167
Zach Peters C 11 0 -9 31 -.290
TOTAL TEAM 3924 7275 .539

ARIZONA PAC-10/12
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:

Name (Year) G S PP MIN PR
Derrick Williams (2011) 38 38 1190 1141 1.043
Sean Elliott (1989) 33 33 1128 1125 1.003
Chris Mills (1993) 28 28 838 870 .963
Sean Elliott (1988) 38 38 1167 1249 .934
D. Stoudamire (1995) 30 30 964 1092 .883
Mike Bibby (1998) 35 35 905 1124 .805
Jason Terry (1999) 29 29 877 1107 .792
Nick Johnson (2014) 36 36 804 1172 .686

NICK JOHNSON CAREER POINTS RANKING

Rank Player Years Points
20 Solomon Hill 2010-13 1430
21 Joe Nehls 1978-80 1409
22 Ernie McCray 1958-60 1349
23 Kyle Fogg 2008-12 1341
24 Frank Smith 1980-83 1329
25 Mustafa Shakur 2004-07 1318
26 Nick Johnson 2011-14 1302
27 Ivan Radenovic 2004-07 1300
28 Nic Wise 2007-10 1285

One of the difference-makers is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson coming off the bench and igniting Arizona as the sixth man in the Wildcats’ victories over Weber State and Gonzaga. Hollis-Jefferson has an astounding productivity rating of 1.327 in the two victories. Gordon has a rating of 1.018 in the NCAA tournament. A solid mark is .650 or higher.

The contributions of Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson in the NCAA tournament serve as indicator that Miller can reload after the program’s 11-year drought without consecutive trips to the Sweet 16. Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson may be gone to the NBA next season along with Nick Johnson. That core would be missed.

But Miller has reinforcements on the way with the likes of Stanley Johnson, Kadeem Allen, Craig Victor and Dusan Ristic. The nucleus is there. The race is on.

ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS

Date Opponent Results TeamPR Productivity Leader Pos PP MIN PR
March 23 Gonzaga 84-61 (W) .700 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 43 27 1.593
March 21 Weber State 68-59 (W) .510 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 23 22 1.045
March 15 UCLA 75-71 (L) .495 Nick Johnson SG 25 39 .641
March 14 Colorado 63-43 (W) .505 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 23 28 .821
March 13 Utah 71-39 (W) .565 Nick Johnson SG 23 26 .885
March 8 @Oregon 64-57 (L) .380 Aaron Gordon PF 28 33 .848
March 5 @Oregon St. 74-69 (W) .470 Nick Johnson SG 35 33 1.061
March 2 Stanford 79-66 (W) .605 Aaron Gordon SF 39 32 1.219
Feb. 27 California 87-59 (W) .730 Nick Johnson SG 38 31 1.226
Feb. 22 @Colorado 88-61 (W) .720 Aaron Gordon PF 35 27 1.296
Feb. 19 @Utah 67-63 OT (W) .391 Gabe York SG 20 36 .556
Feb. 14 @ASU 69-66 2OT (L) .356 Kaleb Tarczewski C 22 45 .489
Feb. 9 Oregon St. 76-54 (W) .575 T.J. McConnell PG 25 30 .833
Feb. 6 Oregon 67-65 (W) .455 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 31 34 .912
Feb. 1 @California 60-58 (L) .430 Kaleb Tarczewski C 34 35 .971
Jan. 29 @Stanford 60-57 (W) .400 Nick Johnson SG 24 33 .727
Jan. 26 Utah 65-56 (W) .435 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 16 24 .667
Jan. 23 Colorado 69-57 (W) .525 Brandon Ashley PF 24 31 .774
Jan. 16 ASU 91-68 (W) .675 Nick Johnson SG 23 27 .852
Jan. 12 @USC 73-53 (W) .520 Brandon Ashley PF 28 31 .903
Jan. 9 @UCLA 79-75 (W) .570 Gabe York SG 16 18 .889
Jan. 4 Washington 71-62 (W) .580 Nick Johnson SG 34 36 .944
Jan. 2 Washington St. 60-25 (W) .510 Kaleb Tarczewski C 20 22 .909
Dec. 23 NAU 77-44 (W) .660 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 30 27 1.111
Dec. 19 Southern 69-43 (W) .535 Aaron Gordon SF 28 29 .966
Dec. 14 @Michigan 72-70 (W) .530 Kaleb Tarczewski C 23 26 .885
Dec. 11 N.M. State 74-48 (W) .555 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 22 23 .957
Dec. 7 UNLV 63-58 (W) .450 T.J. McConnell PG 29 35 .829
Dec. 3 Texas Tech 79-58 (W) .570 Brandon Ashley PF 32 28 1.143
Nov. 29 Duke 72-66 (W) .590 Kaleb Tarczewski C 21 28 .750
Nov. 27 Drexel 66-62 (W) .505 Nick Johnson SG 31 36 .861
Nov. 19 Rhode Island 87-59 (W) .685 Nick Johnson SG 39 26 1.500
Nov. 18 Fairleigh Dickinson 100-50 (W) .890 Nick Johnson SG 30 20 1.500
Nov. 14 @San Diego State 69-60 (W) .490 Nick Johnson SG 29 31 .935
Nov. 11 Long Beach State 91-57 (W) .790 Brandon Ashley PF 28 21 1.333
Nov. 8 Cal Poly 73-62 (W) .565 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 20 21 .952

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.



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