Arizona Basketball

Three top storylines: Arizona Wildcats at Washington Huskies

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The Arizona-Washington rivalry has showcased its share of fantastic finishes such as the game-saving blocked shot by Derrick Williams four years ago (YouTube video 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)

WASHINGTON PRODUCTIVITY LEADERS
*Starters. **No longer with team. List includes players who average at least 10 minutes a game.
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ARIZONA SEASON PRODUCTIVITY RATING
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NO. 6 ARIZONA (20-3, 8-2) at WASHINGTON (14-9, 3-8)
Tip Time: 7:05 p.m. MST
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch/Bill Walton)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)
THE SERIES
Overall: Arizona leads, 47-28
In Seattle: Arizona trails, 17-18
Current Streak: Arizona won 3
Last Meeting: Arizona won, 71-62, on Jan. 4, 2014
Sean Miller vs. Washington: 5-5

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Top three storylines for tonight’s game:

1. Washington “rivalry” revisited

Once upon a time, Arizona and Washington had the most heated rivalry in what was the Pac-10. That came after the Wildcats had storied matchups with UCLA and Stanford. Colorado wants you to believe the Buffaloes have generated a rivalry with Arizona. Not close.

In terms of rivalry significance since Lute Olson arrived in 1983, the top five ranking goes like this:

1. UCLA. The hated Bruins have won four of the last five against Arizona and hold a 15-7 record against the Wildcats since 2006.

2. Stanford. Although one-sided as of late, with Arizona winning 10 straight, nobody can forget the Todd Lichti, Brevin Knight and Chris Hernandez years.

3. Washington. The Huskies had a 6-2 run against Olson near the end of his career, and they have beaten Arizona three times in the conference tournament.

4. California. The Jason Kidd vs. Damon Stoudamire games in the early 1990s were classic.

5. Arizona State. The in-state rival has to be ranked among the top five, and let’s face it, the Sun Devils are 9-8 against Arizona since 2008.

The rest of the ranking: No. 6 Oregon State, No. 7 Oregon, No. 8 Utah, No. 9 Colorado, No. 10 USC and No. 11 Washington State.

2. Lorenzo Romar on the hot seat?

The dean of the Pac-12 coaches, in his 13th season at Washington, is 13-13 against Arizona in his career. He is 5-5 against Sean Miller since Miller’s hire in 2009. He has held his own over the years against the conference’s top program.

The Huskies have lost their relevancy, however, among the nation’s top programs in recent years. After an 18-11 run against Top 25 teams from 2004 to 2007, Washington is 8-29 since. They are 0-3 against ranked Arizona teams since beating the No. 16 Wildcats 77-75 in overtime on Isaiah Thomas’ game-winning shot to capture the 2011 Pac-10 tournament title.

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Seattle Times columnist Jerry Brewer wrote yesterday that Romar “will need to return to the NCAA tournament next season or call it a tenure.”

“Critics are fuming,” Brewer writes. “Fans are fleeing, leaving the Huskies to play in front of thinning home crowds. If not for a stellar recruiting class, the ‘fire Romar’ sentiment might be even greater. Realistically, however, athletic director Scott Woodward will give him the chance to coach a 2015-16 class that Scout.com ranks as the nation’s ninth best.”

With the disciplinary issues of wayward highly-productive center Robert Upshaw (dismissed from the team last month) and a knee injury suffered by starting forward Jerrard Jarreau, Romar might have a pass to next season if he can’t rectify the Huskies down the stretch this month and next.

“Good people get fired all the time in sports,” writes Brewer, citing Romar’s class and integrity. “The program is clearly slipping, and if Romar can’t fix it, he won’t leave complaining because the school has been appropriately patient.”

3. What Arizona’s followers want to see the most starting tonight.

Following up on my blog posted earlier this week, this is where fans want Arizona to improve the most:

1. The play of Kaleb Tarczewski and his hand-to-eye coordination

2. Avoiding playing down to the competition

3. Brandon Ashley’s aggressiveness

4. Perimeter shooting

5. Defensive consistency

Other areas in need of improvement according to the fans: Intensity on the road, toughness, more unity like last year’s team, making 1-foot shots, killer instinct, dominance like last year, playing more in sync on offense, free throws, Stanley Johnson’s defensive miscues, inability to pass ball into the paint, team chemistry and Matt Korcheck’s playing time.

Since the publication of the blog, another fan on the Arizona Wildcats Basketball Facebook page has suggested that Miller try a full-court press once in a while to shake things up.

With Parker Jackson-Cartwright questionable tonight with a concussion, the Wildcats do not have the depth to employ a press at different parts of the game like Rick Pitino.

Miller is also a strategic half-court defensive coach with strict man-to-man principles.

The fans had some good input, including the use of a press (it would be fun to watch with Johnson, T.J. McConnell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as ball hawks). But let us remember Arizona is 20-3. Most fans in the nation would love for their team to have such a record.

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PAC-12 RPI RATING
Present RPI ranking of the Pac-12.
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HOW ARE THEY DOING?
Present RPI ranking of Arizona’s non-conference opponents.
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ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also has published articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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