Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats Productivity Report: Wildcats have emerged strong, balanced since loss at ASU

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Brandon Ashley deserves Pac-12 Player of the Week honors after his performance against Cal and Stanford (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 91, STANFORD 69
PRODUCTIVITY RATING

* — STARTERS
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SEASON PRODUCTIVITY RATING
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Kaleb Tarczewski has shown the most improvement along with Gabe York since the loss at ASU on Feb. 7

Kaleb Tarczewski has shown the most improvement along with Gabe York since the loss at ASU on Feb. 7

The numbers indicate this is Sean Miller’s most balanced team, more so than last year, when much of Arizona’s success was predicated on Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon.

Arizona finished 28-3 in the regular season, the same record as a year ago at this time. Remember, last year’s team spent eight weeks at No. 1 and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

The significant difference is Arizona’s strength of schedule (No. 47 nationally) this season is not nearly as strong as last year’s (No. 5) when the Wildcats finished with the No. 2 RPI. Arizona presently has a No. 7 RPI and is likely headed for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Although Miller’s defense this season is very efficient, last year’s inside-outside defense was more pronounced with the athletic Johnson and Gordon.

What Miller can bank on more this season is depth and versatility. Five players have led the Wildcats in this site’s productivity rating at least four times, led by Stanley Johnson (seven times), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (6) and T.J. McConnell (5).

Brandon Ashley, a Pac-12 Player of the Week candidate, led the Wildcats in productivity against Cal and Stanford last week to increase his number to four times that he has led his team this season. That mark ties that of freshman center Dusan Ristic.

Gabe York led the Wildcats twice and Kaleb Tarczewski once, but both were essential to Arizona’s dominant eight-game winning streak to end the regular season. The Wildcats outscored opponents by an average of 23.3 points in that run. Their worst game in that stretch was against UCLA but they still won by 10.

Further indication the Wildcats are clicking on all cylinders: Last weekend’s games against Cal and Stanford was the first time since the 2008-09 season that Arizona scored at least 90 points in consecutive games.

The Wildcats beat Houston 96-90 in overtime (the game in which Arizona rallied after a Houston player stepped on Chase Budinger’s face) on Jan. 24, 2009. Five days later, Arizona beat Washington 106-97 in McKale Center.

The previous time Arizona scored at least 90 points in consecutive conference games was 10 years ago against Oregon (92-67) and Oregon State (91-70) at McKale.

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PAC-12 RPI RATING
Present RPI ranking of the Pac-12.
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Since the loss at ASU on Feb. 7, these are Miller’s top six players with the most improvement in their productivity:

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After the loss at ASU, I wrote a blog about the fans’ opinions about Arizona. The top five concerns at that time after an informal poll:

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

2. Avoiding playing down to the competition

3. Ashley’s aggressiveness

4. Perimeter shooting

5. Defensive consistency

You can put a check mark next to all of those in terms of marked improvement.

Now the challenge is for Arizona to build on that in the postseason.

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ARIZONA PAC-10/12
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:
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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 has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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