Arizona Basketball

Balanced, experienced Belmont poses productive rotation

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[table “” not found /]

G: Games played. S: Number of starts.
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)

Senior point guard Kerron Johnson is Belmont's most productive overall player

Senior point guard Kerron Johnson is Belmont’s most productive overall player

The competition level over a full league schedule is different between the Ohio Valley and Pac-12 conferences, but Belmont poses a productivity threat unlike any conference foe Arizona faced this season.

The experienced Bruins (26-6) are more balanced in their rotation from their Nos. 1 to 8 players than what the Wildcats (25-7) have seen in the Pac-12. The teams play Thursday at 4:37 p.m. at Salt Lake City in an NCAA West Regional second-round matchup.

Belmont, which has four seniors and a redshirt junior among its primary rotation, plays in a Ohio Valley league that ranks 16th nationally in terms of RPI. The Pac-12 ranks sixth.

Belmont’s primary rotation has a productivity rating (see glossary for definition) that is .568. Arizona’s productivity rating is also respectable at .540.

The Broncos’ top productivity player is senior point guard Kerron Johnson, who has a rating of .689. Their No. 8 player, redshirt sophomore guard Reece Chamberlain, stands at .349. That’s a percentage difference of .340 from top to bottom, which is closer than any Pac-12 team exhibited this season.

Arizona’s top productivity player is senior forward Solomon Hill at .598. The Wildcats’ No. 8 player is junior guard Jordin Mayes, who has a .230 rating. That’s a percentage difference of .368 from top to bottom, the best balance in the Pac-12.

Belmont has four players who have logged at least 900 minutes while Arizona has three.

The Bruins’ veteran group of senior forward Ian Clark (1,067 minutes), junior forward J.J. Mann (963), Johnson (956) and senior forward Trevor Noack are the bread-and-butter players for coach Rick Byrd. They will play in their third consecutive NCAA tournament, seeking their first win after losing in the opening round to Wisconsin 72-58 in 2011 and Georgetown 74-59 last season.

Arizona’s top players in terms of minutes are Hill (1,057), sophomore guard Nick Johnson (999) and senior guard Mark Lyons (959). Hill has one previous NCAA tournament experience when Arizona went to the 2011 Elite Eight. Lyons has went as far as two Sweet 16s with Xavier the three previous seasons. This is Johnson’s first NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats’ freshmen trio — Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett — account for 31.8 percent of the minutes played for Arizona’s primary rotation. Belmont has only one freshman in its primary rotation — 6-3 guard Craig Bradshaw — and he accounts for only 5.1 percent of the minutes.

Ashley, Arizona’s top freshman in terms of productivity with a rating of .590, is encouraged with how he and his freshmen teammates have progressed. They played well in Friday’s 66-64 loss to UCLA in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament. They combined for 50 of Arizona’s 92 productivity points in the game.

“(The freshmen) came out aggressively in this (Pac-12) tournament,” Ashley said after the game. “We came out under control and played like we had to do to win. I definitely think we’re playing well together. We’ll continue to grow and move along.”

The bottom line: Arizona has the talent, but Belmont is more balanced and experienced, including the number of NCAA tournament appearances, than the Wildcats. The Bruins are also hungry after failing to get past the first round of the NCAA tournament in their five previous appearances over a seven-year span.

“The more often that you knock on the door, and the experience you have with a bunch of seniors and juniors, and you’ve already been in this thing a couple of times, I think our chances to compete and to play well and have a chance are better than they have ever been,” Byrd told members of the media Sunday.


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Solomon Hill is on the brink of joining an elite group of scorers and rebounds in UA history

Solomon Hill needs 17 points and four rebounds to join Arizona’s 20-10 Club

Solomon Hill is 17 points from No. 20 career scoring leader Joe Noels, who had 1,409 points from 1976-80. He is four rebounds shy of No. 10 career rebounding leader Jordan Hill (no relation), who produced 763 from 2006-09.

Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner


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