Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats Productivity Report: Analyzing UA’s point guards in NCAA tournaments past and present

As the season has progressed, Arizona has steadily improved taking care of the basketball.

The general thought is keeping the turnovers down is a significant element for advancing to the Final Four for the first time in 16 years.

The Wildcats averaged 12.5 turnovers a game against non-conference opponents. That number was reduced to 10.6 during the Pac-12 season.

In the postseason, including the Pac-12 tournament, the number is 10.2.

Sean Miller’s accepting of no more than 12 turnovers, so Arizona is meeting that goal.

In the NCAA tournament wins over North Dakota and Saint Mary’s, Arizona had seven and nine turnovers, respectively.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright has 17 assists with only five turnovers in the postseason. Kadeem Allen has 10 assists and 10 turnovers in that span.

In past NCAA tournaments, it is interesting to note that point guards limiting their turnovers was not always essential for Arizona to reach the Final Four.

Four of the best point guards to play for Lute OlsonSteve Kerr, Damon Stoudamire, Mike Bibby and Jason Gardner — led the Wildcats to the Final Four but not all had sterling assist-to-turnover ratios in the NCAA tournament.

Kerr had the best ratio by far with 22 assists and only four turnovers in the 1988 tournament.

Bibby had the worst, actually having more turnovers (24) than assists (20) in Arizona’s title run in 1997. He had eight turnovers in the championship game against Kentucky’s full-court pressure defense under Rick Pitino. That’s ironic because Bibby’s cool temperament and efficiency forced Pitino to abandon the press in the second half of that game.

Stoudamire had 27 assists and 19 turnovers in the 1994 tournament. He had five turnovers and four assists in the Elite Eight victory against Missouri.

Gardner compiled only 15 assists in the six games Arizona played in the 2001 tournament. He had 10 turnovers.

Allen has one assist and three turnovers after the first two tournament games. Jackson-Cartwright had five assists and two turnovers.

Stoudamire had 10 assists and nine turnovers after Arizona’s first two tournament games in 1994. Bibby had three assists and four turnovers in the first two games in 1997.

What these point-guard greats did instead of gaudy assist-to-turnover ratios (other than Kerr) was make clutch shots and free throws, serve as a captain on the court, played within the team concept, and stepped up on defense when necessary.

The most important characteristic: They kept coming at the opponent strong no matter the numbers.

That’s the kind of confidence Miller needs the most from Allen and Jackson-Cartwright heading into tonight’s Sweet 16 matchup with Xavier.

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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