Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats Productivity Report: Debunking critical view of UA’s low tempo rating


While teams such as UCLA and Washington are playing at a high tempo — ranked in the top 20 by Ken Pomeroy — Arizona and Cal are in the bottom third of Division I teams.

The Wildcats and Golden Bears meet tonight in Berkeley in what figures to be another one of those grind-it-out games between the teams. Last year’s 74-73 victory by Cal in Berkeley is considered high-scoring when these teams meet.

Arizona beat Cal 107-105 in a three-overtime classic in Berkeley in 2011. At the end of regulation, the game was tied at 76. Only twice in the last 13 seasons has both teams scored at least 80 points in regulation when playing each other, with the last time a 94-85 win for Arizona at McKale Center in Lute Olson’s last season as an active coach in 2006-07.

Oregon defeated UCLA 89-87 in regulation on Wednesday, exemplifying the pace at which those teams can play. The Bruins rank eighth in Pomeroy’s “Efficiency and Tempo” ranking. Oregon ranks No. 242, one spot below California.

What it means: When forced to accelerate more, Oregon showed coach Dana Altman it can deliver.

Sean Miller’s team has that capability also with guards such Kadeem Allen, Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins and a mobile 7-footer in Lauri Markkanen. Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Allonzo Trier possibly will rejoin the team soon and make Miller’s offensive flow more potent.

The Wildcats visit UCLA Jan. 21 in the most anticipated game of the first half of the Pac-12 season. If Arizona is at full speed, it could be the kind of game we saw between Oregon and UCLA on Wednesday.

Miller’s team currently ranks 11th in the Pac-12 and 289th out of 351 Division I teams in Pomeroy’s “Efficiency and Tempo” rating. Miller relies much more on efficiency than having to push the pace, and that will likely be the case when or if Jackson-Cartwright and Trier enter the rotation.

Some may be critical of Arizona’s low tempo rating. Don’t forget that Oregon’s rating is not high either and the Ducks beat UCLA.

Miller’s coaching the team the right way, much like Altman is doing with Oregon. A true test of a team’s capability as a season progresses is performing well at different variances of tempo because opponents are not the same and the Wildcats will possibly have off nights.

Miller is guiding his team into that position to potentially grind it out with Cal and also pick up the pace against UCLA.

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)

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FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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