Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats Productivity Report: Markkanen top producer but many contributing


LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Four games. One clear productivity leader: Lauri Markkanen. Four different players leading in productivity each game: Kobi Simmons against Michigan State, Markkanen against Cal State Bakersfield, Dusan Ristic against Sacred Heart and Parker Jackson-Cartwright against Northern Colorado.

On this Thanksgiving Day, Sean Miller has plenty to be thankful for with how balanced his team has played with a different standout from one game to the next.

Going against Santa Clara tonight at 8:30 p.m. (Tucson time) in the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic, Miller and his staff have a sense that Markkanen will be a standout (about 40 NBA scouts will be in attendance, most of whom are here to watch him).

The question of who will be the other player to stand out the most must come to mind.

Kadeem Allen certainly has it in him coming off a sprained knee injury after struggling to this point with a .250 rating, which is last among Miller’s eight regulars. Chance Comanche is valuable off the bench with the second-highest productivity rating (.649) behind Markkanen’s 1.000 mark so far this season.

Fellow reserve frontcourt player Keanu Pinder has also not led Arizona in productivity in a game but is fourth in the season ranking at .536. Rawle Alkins has a respectable .514 rating.

This bodes well for Miller going into the Pac-12 season because players one through eight in the rotation have the talent to lead Arizona in a game at any given time. That can’t be said for many conference teams, to go that deep with valuable contribution.

Think of it this way: How many thought Comanche is the second most productive player behind Markkanen? He has worked diligently behind the scenes, practically, as a reserve post player averaging 18.5 minutes a game. Against Northern Colorado on Monday, Comanche played only 11 minutes.

And this analysis does not include sophomore guard Allonzo Trier, who may or may not return soon from an undisclosed suspension.

Some notes about tonight’s game against Santa Clara, coached by former ASU coach Herb Sendek

— Remember this image of Sendek after losing his last game as the Sun Devils’ coach in the 2015 Pac-12 tournament? He returns to Las Vegas for the first time to face Miller, his former assistant at Miami (Ohio) and North Carolina State:

Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star wrote a good piece about Sendek’s long-standing relationship with Miller. Their bond is strong enough for Miller to invite Sendek to some of Arizona’s practices last season. “I tried to make the very best of the situation and I most certainly tried to improve as a leader and teacher and coach,” Sendek said about his year away from the game, including the trip to the Richard Jefferson Gym, after he was fired by ASU. …

— Two of Arizona’s NCAA tournament cruxes of the past — Santa Clara and Miami (Ohio) — are at play today. The Broncos and Steve Nash eliminated the Wildcats in the first round in 1993. Sendek’s background extends to when Miami upset Damon Stoudamire and the Wildcats in the first round in 1995. Miller was one of Sendek’s assistants as was Ohio State coach Thad Matta and former Miami coach Charlie Coles (all of whom are pictured with Sendek below in a Miami University photo).

Sean Miller, far left (to right), standing with Charlie Coles, Herb Sendek and Thad Matta (Miami University photo)

Sean Miller, far left (to right), standing with Charlie Coles, Herb Sendek and Thad Matta (Miami University photo)

— Remember guard Jaren Brownridge? How can you forget? The senior guard scored 44 of Santa Clara’s 73 points in a 75-73 overtime loss against the Wildcats last year in the Wooden Legacy at Fullerton, Calif. He set an opponent record with his 19 3-point field attempts (making seven) in the game that was played on Nov. 26 a year ago. He is averaging 16.8 points a game this season, including 32 against Sacred Heart in the season opener.

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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