If you’re an opponent of Arizona’s in McKale Center – or any other site you’d like to mention – what do you do? Who do you try to stop?
Allonzo Trier? Good luck.
Deandre Ayton? Bring a 7-footer or two.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright? Offensively you might be ok but he’s doing his best to get everyone else the ball.
Welcome to the 2017-18 version of the Arizona basketball team, where points will be plenty and your choices to pick and choose who to stop will be the same.
Figure Sunday afternoon where every player who played scored and had some sort of impact in UA’s 103-78 win over a tough University of Maryland Baltimore County.
As UMBC coach Ryan Odom said, Arizona has “options.”
Translation: pick your poison.
Trier had his second 30-point effort with 30, two days after scoring a career-high 32.
Ayton had 19 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. Reserve Ira Lee had 10 points.
And the list goes on and on.
“All the people saying they should make it to the Final Four and go deep in March, I think they have a team and coach that could do that,” said UMBC coach Ryan Odom.
And, we’re just two games in. Still, Arizona has a lot to improve on.
“Everything,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said, when asked what he needs to improve on before Thursday’s game three.
Sunday, you wouldn’t think that.
The evidence is in the box score, one that has showed 39 made baskets. It was a number Miller said he can’t remember seeing that high in his years of coaching.
Then there was Trier, who went 10 for 18 from the floor, including 5 of 12 from beyond the 3-point line.
“That’s what he does,” said teammate Parker Jackson-Cartwright. “…He’s prepared himself mentally for this moment, and he’s relishing it.”
Said coach Sean Miller: “He’s very efficient how he’s playing the game right now,” Miller said. “You also have to credit his teammates. It’s not easy to load up on him. He has a very fast and unselfish point guard Parker who understands how to play the game. He’s surrounded with a lot of other weapons. It’s set up for (Trier) as long as he’s taking good shots.”
He does everything so effortlessly. He hit jumpers from 15 feet. He had two monster jams and was an intimidator.
Heck, he was an intimidator with those jams, one an alley-oop in the first half and a rebound put back that was impressive in the second.
“I heard coach Miller say, ‘Deandre go get that one,” said Ayton. “I was like, ‘OK.’”
“I’ll take full credit for the dunk, if that’s what he believes,” Miller said. “There aren’t many players who can go and do what he did.”
On Jackson-Cartwright, who has 17 assists and three turnovers in the first two games.
“It’s just doing what I do,” PJC said. “I’m trying to put the ball in the right places so they get a good chance to score. They’ve put the ball in the basket.”
Over the last three seasons, PJC has watched and played with some of the best players at UA in the last decade-plus, but now he seems to have more options than in the past.
“Every year is different and I’ve played with great players – Gabe York, Kaleb (Tarczewski) but this year there is a lot of different guys who can make different types of plays,” PJC said. “I just try to get the ball up fast.”
Fast may be the key word. Arizona hasn’t played this fast or up-tempo since the Lute Olson years, when 90-plus points were the norm. And 100-point efforts were common, too.
PJC said it was “unexplainable really” when asked how he likes running this run-and-stun offense.
“There are so many weapons on the wings and the post,” he said. “Coach wants us to play fast on makes and misses. Not shoot fast and take bad shots but get it up fast and get a good shot.”
Notables: Arizona freshman Brandon Randolph played four minutes, scoring five points. He had been out after dealing with concussion issues the last week. … Sophomore transfer guard Dylan Smith played 14 minutes after sitting out the first game because of a team violation. … Senior F Keanu Pinder played his first game after having to sit out the first game because of an NCAA violation. He had four points and four rebounds and had a huge block near the end of the game where the ball went far into the stands.
“It felt great,” PJC said about the reserves. “Keanu brings a lot of energy and you saw that on the last block. And Brandon is just a hooper. It was nice.”