Arizona Basketball

Three top storylines Arizona Wildcats vs. Wisconsin Badgers

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Brandon Ashley’s contribution on offense and defense will be important for Arizona today against Wisconsin (YouTube video capture)
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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)

SEASON PRODUCTIVITY RATING

Player Pos G S PP MIN PR
Stanley Johnson SG 37 36 760 1056 .720
R.Hollis-Jefferson SF 37 24 734 1053 .697
T.J. McConnell PG 37 37 742 1120 .663
Brandon Ashley PF 37 37 634 1034 .613
Kaleb Tarczewski C 37 36 518 963 .538
Gabe York SG 36 13 416 823 .505
Elliott Pitts SG 37 1 124 548 .226
AVG 5-9.9 MIN
Craig Victor PF 8 0 38 57 .667
Dusan Ristic C 35 0 173 308 .562
P.Jackson-Cartwright PG 33 0 158 324 .488
AVG 1-4.9 MIN
Matt Korcheck PF 21 1 57 77 .740
Trey Mason SG 9 0 2 12 .167
Drew Mellon SF 12 0 -3 23 -.130
Jacob Hazzard PG 17 0 -10 26 -.385
TOTAL TEAM 37 4333 7425 .584

MORE COVERAGE FROM ALLSPORTSTUCSON.COM:

— Arizona Wildcats so close to eight Final Fours instead of four straight Elite Eight heartbreaks

— Notebook: Arizona Wildcats survive to Elite Eight rematch with Wisconsin

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NO. 2 ARIZONA (34-3) vs. NO. 1 WISCONSIN (34-3)
Tip Time: 3:09 p.m. MST
TV: TBS (Harlan/Miller/Bonner/Nichols)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Jeffries/Hansen)
National Radio: Westwood One (Larrivee/Marshall)
THE SERIES
Overall: Arizona trails, 2-4
At Neutral Sites: Arizona trails, 1-4
Current Streak: Wisconsin won 2
Last Meeting: Wisconsin won, 64-63, on March 29, 2014
Sean Miller vs. Wisconsin: 1-2

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Top three storylines for today’s game:

1. Calling on Brandon Ashley.

In the five games preceding the NCAA tournament, culminating with the Pac-12 tournament championship over Oregon, Brandon Ashley was playing by far the best basketball of his career.

He led the Wildcats in each of those games — Cal (twice), Stanford, UCLA and Oregon — in this site’s productivity rating. During that five-game stretch, he posted a rating of 1.061 that boosted his season productivity rating to .637.

In the three NCAA tournament games against Texas Southern, Ohio State and Xavier, Ashley has a productivity rating of only .333, which has made his overall rating dip to .613.

Now more than ever, Arizona needs Ashley to produce to offset the threat Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky poses.

Ashley at 6’9″ and 230 pounds gives up size to Kaminsky (7’0″ and 242) but Ashley has the ability to extend the big man with his perimeter game on offense. Ashley also has the body control over teammate Kaleb Tarczewski (7’0″ and 245) to make Kaminsky expend energy on the block, not to mention get him in foul trouble.

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“It’s not just what he can add to defense,” Arizona graduate assistant Joseph Blair told Anthony Gimino of FoxSportsArizona.com about Ashley. “It’s what he can add to Kaminsky having to guard him on offense. It’s a few more touches where Kaminsky has to play more defense, which could wear him out a little bit more.”

Arizona did not have that last year in the 64-63 overtime loss to Wisconsin at the Elite Eight. Kaminsky was matched mostly against Tarczewski, who was stationery at the post for most of the game with Ashley sitting on the bench with a boot on his right foot. Aaron Gordon’s form of offense was attempted putbacks from his Arizona-NCAA tournament record 18 rebounds.

The Wildcats did not have a post player to sub for Tarczewski last year. Other than sixth man Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, guards Jordin Mayes and Elliott Pitts were they only reserves Sean Miller used. Freshman center Dusan Ristic provides relief for Tarczewski this year, if only for a few minutes.

Gordon played 39 minutes in last year’s game and made only 3-of-11 shots from the field. He had the look of exhaustion in overtime.

Arizona wants that look out of Kaminsky. It’s up to Ashley’s threat against Kaminsky when Arizona goes small to make him that way in the end, if Kaminsky survives potential foul trouble.

2. What about the other Badgers?

In Wisconsin’s two defeats this season in which Kaminsky has played — he didn’t play in the loss against Rutgers because of concussion-like symptoms — fellow starters Nigel Hayes, Sam Dekker and Josh Gasser were not threats.

The losses were against Duke and Maryland. In those games, Hayes and Dekker (forwards) and Gasser (guard) combined to make 15 of 37 (40.5 percent) from the field and 6 of 17 (35.2 percent) from three-point range. They normally shoot an impressive 49.7 percent overall. Their three-point shooting percent of 35.3 percent this season is what they showed against Duke and Maryland.

The most important aspect for Arizona: Limiting the looks of Hayes, Dekker and Gasser while T.J. McConnell tries to contain sophomore point guard Bronson Koenig and senior Traevon Jackson (who led the Badgers with 40 minutes played in last year’s game but is limited this year in his return from a foot injury).

Hayes and Dekker normally average 18.4 field goal attempts per game. They averaged 14 against Duke and Maryland. Off-the-ball defense against them will be crucial for the Wildcats. The point guard or Kaminsky will try to offset the defense with penetration or by drawing double-teams, respectively. If the Wildcats stay true to their man, the results should be positive.

Former Arizona player Kelvin Eafon, the head coach at Pueblo High School and analyst on KCUB (1290-AM) The Source offered this viewpoint on the matter on Twitter:

3. Who will be the toughest?

Arizona’s lineage of quality point guards include four of the best who led the Wildcats into the Final Four: Steve Kerr, Damon Stoudamire, Mike Bibby and Jason Gardner.

Each had a calming influence with their confidence and ability to set up the execution for others on offense. While some may criticize aspects of their game, nobody can look back and question their fortitude.

The critics said Kerr was slow, Stoudamire took too many shots, Bibby was too quiet and Gardner was not a threat on offense.

What can be said of McConnell, who today will attempt to join this prestigious Final Four group of point guards?

He has an awkward jumper that looks like a set-shot from the 1950’s? No. McConnell will go down in history as the ultimate gamer, a player who got every ounce of ability out of himself.

ESPN’s Sean Farnham last night asked when analyzing the outcome: Who has the toughest player? The answer: Arizona with McConnell.

Stoudamire, now McConnell’s coach as an Arizona assistant, looks at his senior guard with envy. That’s saying something because Stoudamire is one of the best to wear an Arizona uniform.

“He’s making his own legacy,” Stoudamire told Steve Rivera of FoxSportsArizona.com. “He’s not like us in a sense that what we (other famed Arizona guards) were to our team and what he is to this team. His value to this team is never going to be measured in numbers because his statistics are never going to look right when you match him against someone else.

“He won’t be an All-American. He wasn’t the Pac-12 Player of the Year because of his statistics. But he’s special. I see him and say, he’s always going to make the right play. He’s always going to knock down the shot. He’s going to make a play on the defensive end. He’s an easy guy to love and watch.

“I didn’t play that way. But since I became a coach, I see that I don’t like guys who play like me. Then I look at a guy like TJ and you appreciate all the things he does. He doesn’t have all the ability other guys have, but he maximizes what he has. He gets every inch out of it on the court.”

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ARIZONA’S RECORD BY ROUND IN NCAA TOURNAMENT

First game: 20-13 (.606)

Second game: 17-3 (.850)

Third game: 10-7 (.588)

Fourth game: 4-5 (.444)

Final Four: 2-2 (.500)

Championship: 1-1 (.500)

Total: 54-31 (.635)

OLDEST ARIZONA PLAYERS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT
NCAAT: Last recorded date in NCAA tournament.

Player Birth NCAAT Yrs/Months/Days
Mark Lyons 7/4/89 3/28/13 23/8/24
Ben Davis 12/26/72 3/22/96 23/2/25
Chris Mills 1/25/70 3/18/93 23/1/53
Eugene Edgerson 2/10/78 4/2/01 23/1/52
T.J. McConnell 3/25/92 3/28/15 23/0/3

CAREER ASSIST-TO-TURNOVER LEADERS (MIN. 300 ASSISTS)

1. T.J. McConnell (2014-present) 3.06 (435/142)
2. Steve Kerr (1984-88) 2.64 (443/168)
3. Matt Muehlebach (1988-91) 2.20 (458/208)
4. Matt Othick (1989-92) 2.18 (552/253)
5. Mike Bibby (1997-98) 2.12 (377/178)

SEASON ASSISTS LEADERS

1. Russell Brown (1978-79) 247
2. T.J. McConnell (2014-15) 233
3. Reggie Geary (1995-96) 231
4. Damon Stoudamire (1994-95) 220
5. Mustafa Shakur (2006-07) 215

SEASON STEALS LEADERS

1. Mike Bibby (1997-98) 87
2. Jason Terry (1996-97) 85
3. Hassan Adams (2005-06) 82
4. T.J. McConnell (2014-15) 81
5. Jason Terry (1998-99) 80

ARIZONA’S TOP SCORING CENTERS
Rank: Overall school ranking.

Rank Name Years Points
2. Bob Elliott 1974-77 2131
9. Channing Frye 2002-05 1789
14. Anthony Cook 1986-89 1590
15. Sean Rooks 1989-92 1497
25. Frank Smith 1980-83 1329
32. Jordan Hill 2007-09 1208
42. A.J. Bramlett 1996-99 1098
43. Joseph Blair 1993-96 1086
50. Ed Stokes 1990-93 984
57. Junior Crum 1945-49 940
70. Kaleb Tarczewski 2013-15 930

ASHLEY CLOSE TO NO. 50 TOP SCORER IN ARIZONA HISTORY
50. Ed Stokes (1990-93) 984
51. Rick Anderson (1998-03) 968
52. Mickey Foster (1967-70) 966
53. Tom Lee (1968-71) 962
Brandon Ashley (2013-present) 962

ARIZONA’S LAST 4 ELITE EIGHTS

Year Opponent W/L Score Diff
2003 Kansas L 78-75 3
2005 Illinois L 90-89 (OT) 1
2011 UConn L 65-63 2
2014 Wisconsin L 64-63 (OT) 1

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ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS

Date Opponent Results TeamPR Productivity Leader Pos PP MIN PR
March 26 Xavier 68-60 (W) .515 Kaleb Tarczewski C 25 32 .781
March 21 Ohio State 73-58 (W) .610 T.J. McConnell PG 39 39 1.000
March 19 Texas Southern 93-72 (W) .725 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 42 24 1.750
March 14 Oregon 80-52 (W) .605 Brandon Ashley PF 28 29 .965
March 13 UCLA 70-64 (W) .535 Brandon Ashley PF 37 34 1.089
March 12 Cal 73-51 (W) .595 Brandon Ashley PF 27 29 .931
March 7 Stanford 91-69 (W) .715 Brandon Ashley PF 28 29 .966
March 5 Cal 99-60 (W) .860 Brandon Ashley PF 36 26 1.385
Feb. 28 Utah 63-57 (W) .450 Gabe York SG 19 25 .760
Feb. 26 Colorado 82-54 (W) .571 Gabe York SG 25 23 1.087
Feb. 21 UCLA 57-47 (W) .400 Dusan Ristic C 24 11 2.182
Feb. 19 USC 87-57 (W) .574 T.J. McConnell PG 20 19 1.053
Feb. 15 Washington St. 86-59 (W) .640 Kaleb Tarczewski C 28 24 1.167
Feb. 13 Washington 86-62 (W) .725 Stanley Johnson SG 39 27 1.444
Feb. 7 ASU 81-78 (L) .435 T.J. McConnell PG 30 34 .882
Jan. 30 Oregon St. 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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