For the second consecutive weekend, Arizona suffered its second double-digit defeat. Now come the questions – well, they started last week – what in the world is going on with the Wildcats?
Well, it’s a laundry list of winkles, misfortunes, missed shots and mediocre defense. And, um, rebounding, a problem that was very apparent on Saturday after UA’s 87-68 loss to Ducks in Eugene.
All have been made it a mixed bag and not good enough the last two-plus weeks. All of it. Arizona’s guards have been nothing like they were in November and December … oh, btw doesn’t that seem so long ago?
Simply, Kerr Kriisa needs to be better – especially with his shot. No secret there.
Oumar Ballo needs to play stronger near the basket. He hasn’t been the same as he was in the previous two months. Enough of the loose balls lost near the basket.
Courtney Ramey needs to shoot the ball better.
Pelle Larsson needs to be more visible and productive in the minutes he’s playing.
And the bench – such that it is – needs to step up. It hasn’t been productive lately and that’s not a good sign as the team moves forward.
And, Tommy Lloyd will have to find the magic he had last season and in the early parts of this one.
It has to happen soon, given USC comes in Thursday and UCLA on Saturday.
All that after everything looked so good the first couple of months, making the Wildcat faithful fans giddy for a possible deep run in the NCAA Tournament. That said, they too need to temper expectations (yes, good luck with that).
Even some of Arizona’s best team lose inexplicably.
Lloyd knew Saturday would be a hard game, given the Ducks had some very good players coming back and that coach Dana Altman would have them ready. Heck, he’s had them ready for years when it comes to Arizona. UA is now 1-8 vs. Oregon in the last nine trips to Eugene. The Ducks have won six straight in Eugene. Arizona hasn’t swept the Oregon schools since 2009.
But this isn’t about Oregon – although it played perhaps its best game of the season – but instead about Arizona, a team that will fall out of the top 10 this week after its third loss (all as favorites).
But what Altman did was what many will try to do and have found success: Keep Arizona in the 60s and limit Arizona’s transition points. It’s been the strategy when Lute Olson was the coach (who liked to play at a fast pace) to now Lloyd.
Utah did it. Washington State did it. And now Oregon.
Sorry to inform you but there will be others who will do it too. Arizona, once the best scoring team in college basketball, has shot itself in the foot by not shooting shots in the basket. Arizona shot 37.5 percent from the floor and 36 percent from the 3-point line.
It’s been too inconsistent offensively. And not good enough defensively, relying too much on trying to outscore opponents. That works, until it doesn’t. It hasn’t lately because teams are slowing it down and limiting possessions.
And Arizona hasn’t been effective or efficient enough lately to get the wins. It did on Thursday and everything seemed – but wasn’t – right again.
Once again, every game is a season.
“What happens on Thursday doesn’t impact what happens on Saturday,” Tommy Lloyd told the press after the loss. “The more desperate team played harder today, which is often the case especially at home. They deserved to get the win.”
It’s about the time Arizona needs to realize it too is a desperate team, even at 15-3.
Here’s the problem: UA is 4-3 in the Pac-12 Conference and fifth overall. In Arizona’s world that’s a desperate time.