Arizona Basketball

Larsson: ‘I feel at peace with every shot I take’

SALT LAKE CITY – The numbers don’t lie – apparently – or do they?

Get this: Pelle Larson is as crucial to Arizona’s success than any other player in the lineup.

He’s actually the Sweden army knife. If there is such a thing?

Well, Arizona has him and according to Evan Miyakaya’s in-depth analytics, Larsson is as pivotal as anybody for Arizona, which faces Dayton Saturday morning in the NCAA tournament’s second round.

“Larsson’s a heck of a talent,” said Dayton coach Anthony Grant, not wanting to single out any UA player because he said it was “a talented group.”

Still, Larsson is averaging 12.9 points (third on team), 4.0 rebounds (fifth) and 3.64 assists per game (leader).

He leads in Miyakaya’s MVP score and Indispensability score, 0.35 and 0.28 respectively (refer to the chart).

The MVP score measures how valuable a player has been to the team over the course of the season.

“The reason Pelle is No. 1 here is because he’s played more than (Jaden) Bradley),” Miyakawa said in a note.

Pelle was a bit surprised to hear that.

“We have a lot of guys doing many things and there’s just gonna be some guy that’s on top of the leaderboard,” Larsson said. “It’s just a result to the way we play. I’ve always kind of been the guy to do a little bit here, a little bit there.”

It all adds up.

A little bit of this. A little bit of that. He’s Arizona’s straw that stirs the drink.

And lately, he’s been very good, save for Thursday’s game when he missed a couple of layups. He still went 5 for 11 from the floor, including 3 of 5 from beyond the 3-point line. In the last three games, he’s shot 57 percent, hitting 8 of 14 3s.

Prior to that, he’s hit 22 of 41 shots. He’s playing some of his best basketball at the right time.

“I feel very comfortable in (my) senior year,” he said. “I’ve noticed compared to other years.  I feel at peace with every shot I take. I feel confident and other guys have been playing good. That makes me play better too. I’m kind of one of those guys who feed off of them and play good with others.”

It’s no surprise to Tommy Lloyd.

“I don’t need analytics to tell me how much he impacts us,” Lloyd said. “He impacts every possession at both ends of the floor. He’s a guy that gives you everything he’s got. He’s a guy who has great attention to detail, plays with amazing effort and energy.

“And of the offensive end, he’s smart. He knows what we’re trying to do and how to execute. If we get knocked off our path a little bit, he knows how to get us back on it. We really value Pelle and everything he brings to the program.”

Then comes Bradley, who is the most impactful on a per possession basis.

“It’s about accepting your role,” Bradley said, of his situation. “You come on the court and be the sparkplug. It’s doing whatever my team needs that day to get the win.”

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