Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats Productivity Report: McConnell historically UA’s most unlikely Pac-12 player of year candidate

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Can T.J. McConnell follow Nick Johnson into becoming a Pac-12 Player of the Year? (ESPN screen shot)

Can T.J. McConnell follow Nick Johnson into becoming a Pac-12 Player of the Year? (ESPN screen shot)

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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 57, OREGON ST. 34
PRODUCTIVITY RATING

* — STARTERS

Player Pos PP MIN PR
*T.J. McConnell PG 22 30 .733
Elliott Pitts SG 10 16 .625
*Brandon Ashley PF 18 31 .581
*Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 16 32 .500
*Stanley Johnson SF 15 32 .469
*Kaleb Tarczewski C 6 23 .261
Gabe York SG 2 24 .083
LESS THAN 10 MIN
Trey Mason SG 5 1 5.000
Drew Mellon SF 1 1 1.000
Matt Korcheck PF 0 1 .000
Jacob Hazzard PG 0 1 .000
Dusan Ristic C -2 8 -.250
TOTAL TEAM 95 200 .475

PAC-12 RPI RATING
Present RPI ranking of the Pac-12.

Rank Team Ovr Pac12 SOS Top50
No.5 Arizona 20-2 8-1 19 4-0
No.11 Utah 15-4 6-2 25 1-3
No.29 Stanford 15-5 6-2 63 1-2
No.55 Washington 14-6 3-5 87 2-3
No.64 Oregon 13-6 5-4 67 0-4
No.66 UCLA 12-9 4-4 30 2-5
No.84 Colorado 11-9 4-4 39 0-5
No.85 Oregon St. 13-7 5-4 146 1-2
No.117 Arizona St. 11-11 3-6 54 0-5
No.122 California 12-9 2-6 95 0-4
No.134 Washington St. 9-11 3-5 100 0-3
No.152 USC 9-11 1-7 81 0-2

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ARIZONA 57, OREGON ST. 34

T.J. McConnell

T.J. McConnell

T.J. McConnell’s evolution as an All-Pac-12 performer is not surprising as he was a second-team choice last season.

What is unprecedented is an Arizona player becoming the conference’s player of the year when he was not hyped for such an honor at the outset of the season.

Back in November, McConnell was fourth in the pecking order for potential player of the year honors behind Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson (despite Johnson’s freshman status). Nothing was written or said three months ago that McConnell deserved such recognition.

Not even Bill Walton mentioned it.

McConnell’s rise is rivaled only by Derrick Williams, who was selected the player of the year as a sophomore in 2010-11. But that’s a stretch. Williams was an All-Pac-12 selection the season before.

Other returning all-conference players in 2010-11 included juniors Isaiah Thomas of Washington and Klay Thompson of Washington State and senior Ty Abbott of ASU.

Arizona’s regular-season championship ultimately gave Williams the decision over Thomas, the preseason choice by many. The Huskies beat Arizona in the Pac-12 tournament title game but the all-conference selections were announced before that.

UCLA, which finished a game behind Arizona, had three all-conference selections with Tyler Honeycutt, Reeves Nelson and Malcolm Lee. It was not easy for coaches to decide a player of the year from that group.

Williams, one of the top contenders going into the season, followed through and won the distinction as the Pac-12’s best.

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HOW ARE THEY DOING?
Present RPI ranking of Arizona’s non-conference opponents.

Rank Opponent Rec Result Date
No.9 Gonzaga 20-1 UA/66-63 (OT) 12/6/14
No.31 SDSU 15-5 UA/61-59 11/26/14
No.59 Michigan 12-8 UA/83-50 12/13/14
No.78 K-State 12-9 UA/72-68 11/25/14
No.105 UNLV 11-9 UNLV/71-67 12/23/14
No.109 UTEP 13-7 UA/60-55 12/19/14
No.119 UC-Irvine 10-8 UA/71-54 11/19/14
No.139 Gardner-Webb 9-9 UA/91-65 12/2/14
No.140 Missouri 6-13 UA/72-53 11/24/14
No.165 Oakland 8-12 UA/101-63 12/16/14
No.172 Mt.St.Mary's 9-11 UA/78-55 11/14/14
No.254 Utah Valley 7-11 UA/87-56 12/9/14
No.258 CS Northridge 5-16 UA/86-68 11/16/14

Mike Bibby (1997-98), Jason Terry (1998-99) and Nick Johnson (2013-14) were not all-conference selections the year before their player of the year honors.

The trio, however, was each a top candidate for the honor entering the season in which they emerged on top.

Bibby was coming off Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors. He engineered the Wildcats to the NCAA title at the point guard position. Topping teammate Miles Simon, the reigning Final Four MVP, for the conference player of the year in 1997-98 was a mild upset.

Terry was the top sixth man in the league before he was finally given a starting role as a senior in 1998-99 after Bibby departed. Terry’s player of the year honor — in the Pac-12 and nationally — was not a surprise as the senior captain and All-American candidate.

Johnson emerged last season as the top player as a junior despite not garnering even a second-team selection the year before.

Nobody, however, can deny that Johnson was Arizona’s leader from the beginning on a team that started 21-0 and finished 33-5.

Johnson’s competition for player of the year honors entering the season was returning all-conference players Jahii Carson, a sophomore at ASU; Spencer Dinwiddie, a junior at Colorado; and Dwight Powell, a senior at Stanford.

The top threat to Johnson out of those players was Dinwiddie, but he was lost to a season-ending knee injury midway through the season.

UCLA sophomore Ryan Anderson (a second-team choice the year before) was also a top candidate. Arizona’s dominance, winning the conference by three games over UCLA, gave Johnson the nod.

Arizona’s other conference players of the year — Sean Elliott (1987-88 and 1988-89), Chris Mills (1992-93) and Damon Stoudamire (a co-choice with UCLA’s Ed O’Bannon in 1994-95) — were all-conference selections the season before like Williams.

With all of this player-of-the-year data, it’s obvious that McConnell is the most unlikely Arizona player to achieve that honor if it comes about.

A lot of basketball is left. Stanford’s Chasson Randle and Utah’s Delon Wright are very deserving candidates. Ashley, Johnson and Hollis-Jefferson all have a chance to win league coaches over in the last nine regular-season games.

To Sean Miller’s credit, he has incorporated that top four core of players into a cohesive unit.

That, in my opinion, makes Miller the choice for Pac-12 Coach of the Year.

But that’s a different blog.

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SEASON PRODUCTIVITY RATING

Player Pos G S PP MIN PR
Stanley Johnson SG 22 21 489 633 .773
R.Hollis-Jefferson SF 22 9 419 606 .691
T.J. McConnell PG 22 22 383 654 .586
Brandon Ashley PF 22 22 359 620 .579
Gabe York SG 21 13 226 456 .496
P.Jackson-Cartwright PG 21 0 105 216 .486
Kaleb Tarczewski C 22 22 271 580 .467
Elliott Pitts SG 22 1 90 336 .268
AVG 5-9.9 MIN
Craig Victor PF 8 0 38 57 .667
Dusan Ristic C 22 0 101 208 .486
AVG 1-4.9 MIN
Matt Korcheck PF 12 0 30 32 .938
Trey Mason SG 8 0 2 11 .182
Drew Mellon SF 6 0 1 9 .111
Jacob Hazzard PG 10 0 -7 12 -.583
TOTAL TEAM 21 2414 4225 .571


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) 38 38 848 1254 .676

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ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS

Date Opponent Results TeamPR Productivity Leader Pos PP MIN PR
Jan. 30 Oregon 57-34 (W) .475 T.J. McConnell PG 22 30 .733
Jan. 28 Oregon 90-56 (W) .715 Dusan Ristic C 18 13 1.385
Jan. 24 Cal 73-50 (W) .550 Stanley Johnson SG 31 30 1.033
Jan. 22 Stanford 89-82 (W) .585 Brandon Ashley PF 22 16 1.375
Jan. 17 Utah 69-51 (W) .525 Stanley Johnson SG 30 28 1.071
Jan. 15 Colorado 68-54 (W) .545 Stanley Johnson SG 40 32 1.250
Jan. 11 Oregon St. 58-56 (L) .365 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 26 34 .765
Jan. 8 Oregon 80-62 (W) .590 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 26 25 1.040
Jan. 4 ASU 73-49 (W) .530 Dusan Ristic C 14 11 1.273
Dec. 23 UNLV 71-67 (L) .446 T.J. McConnell PG 28 39 .718
Dec. 19 UTEP 60-55 (W) .395 T.J. McConnell PG 23 35 .657
Dec. 16 Oakland 101-64 (W) .835 Craig Victor PF 13 10 1.300
Dec. 13 Michigan 84-50 (W) .640 Stanley Johnson SF 31 27 1.148
Dec. 9 Utah Valley 87-56 (W) .710 Dusan Ristic C 23 18 1.278
Dec. 6 Gonzaga 66-63 OT (W) .435 Brandon Ashley PF 19 38 .500
Dec. 2 Gardner-Webb 91-65 (W) .745 Parker Jackson-Cartwright PG 17 13 1.308
Nov. 26 San Diego State 61-59 (W) .525 Stanley Johnson SG 29 37 .784
Nov. 25 Kansas State 72-68 (W) .540 Stanley Johnson SG 21 25 .840
Nov. 24 Missouri 72-53 (W) .525 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 25 23 1.087
Nov. 19 Cal-Irvine 71-54 (W) .610 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 31 29 1.069
Nov. 16 Cal State-Northridge 86-68 (W) .605 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 26 22 1.182
Nov. 14 Mt. St. Mary's 78-55 (W) .660 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 28 21 1.333

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

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