Arizona basketball game notes: Deadly from deep
Wildcats sharp shooting helps in win against 49ers
In Arizona’s 94-72 win against Long Beach State Monday night, senior Kevin Parrom made all five of his shots, all of which came from beyond the arc.
“I was feeling it,” Parrom said. “I’m the shooter on the team so I did what I had to do today.”
On the season Parrom is now 7-for-11 from 3-point range, and the Wildcats’ sixth man has only taken one shot from inside the arc through the first three games.
“Kevin on offense is really dynamic with his ability to shoot,” head coach Sean Miller said.
“As we know, following him, he can shoot the ball. If he’s not our team’s best shooter, he’s certainly right there.”
But fellow senior Solomon Hill isn’t quite ready to give Parrom the crown. While he said Parrom is a great shooter, he added that several players, such as Grant Jerrett, or even himself, can hit the outside shot when they get the open look.
“I just think on any given night it could be someone different,” Hill said. “Just like [Monday] was Kev’s night. Hopefully we can look for him to go 5-for-5 next time too. But if he continues shooting like that it adds another dimension to our team.”
As a team Arizona has shot 29-for-69 from three through three games, or 42 percent. Even though the Wildcats don’t have a designated three-point specialist, like Brendon Lavender was last season, Miller feels the team has six different players who could all argue their credentials as the team’s best pure shooter.
In practice the Wildcats run a drill called five minute shooting — two teams of four players continuously shoot at both ends of the court for five minutes and each shot counts as a point.
Usually teams struggle to reach 200 points as a group — not this time around, Miller said.
“Not one time have we ever gotten less [than 200] and it’s a function that we have a lot of players that can shoot,” Miller said. “So I think, to me, it’s one of our team’s strengths. We just have to make sure the shots we take from the perimeter are good and that we play inside and out.”
The double-edged sword
Being able to hit the three is just one aspect of the game, and as well as the Wildcats have shot, they’ve had trouble defending the perimeter.
In the three regular season games, teams have gone a combined 29-for-74, or 39 percent, from the three-point line. In Monday’s game, Long Beach State went 7-for-15 in the first half and finished 14-for-32 from three.
“Giving up 14 threes is bad,” Miller said. “It wasn’t that they got hot, they earned it … that’s a problem right now. And with this break, that’s a real big focus for us to be able to take away the three-point shot. Not at the expense of the other things we’re doing well, but just to improve that.”
While Arizona has held its opponents to a lower shooting percentage than its shot, the defensive numbers are a far cry from a year ago. Arizona allowed teams to shoot just 28.5 percent last season, the third best mark in the nation.
The addition of so many freshmen bigs in the front court is a main reason for the initial outburst off deep shots, but as Hill said, it could become a major issue if it isn’t fixed soon.
Hill pointed to a game in his freshman year, in December 2009, when a junior Jimmer Fredette and BYU lit up the Wildcats in McKale Center. The Cougars shot 14-for-25 from three, including 9-for-13 from Fredette, and embarrassed Arizona 99-69.
The Wildcats might not have Fredette on the schedule this season, but without closing down quicker on outside shooters, Arizona could experience a similar offensive showing.
Hill passes 1,000 career points
Hill became the 47th Wildcat to eclipse the 1,000 career point mark Monday after hitting his first of two free throws with 4:20 left in the game.
The senior finished with 15 points and hit 11-for-11 free throws despite struggling to shoot from the field — he went 2-for-8 on the night.
But for Hill, who now stands at 1,001 career points, the record doesn’t mean that much.
“I’ve been here long enough,” Hill said. “I would hope I’d get 1,000 points.”
Miller wasn’t quite as nonchalant about the record, as he said the accomplishment shows the Hill’s importance to the program.
“He’s added an element to his game each and every year and he’s been a really important part to all of the four teams that I’ve coached,” Miller said. “And obviously this year’s team, in particular, he’s the leader and the most experienced player on our team.”
With Thanksgiving coming up and the Wildcats not playing in any holiday tournaments, the players have a nine-day window of rest until their next game on Nov. 28 against Northern Arizona.
But a break from games doesn’t mean a break from work, Hill said.
“As Coach was telling us, it’s not time to rest, it’s time to just stay focused and stay active,” Hill said.
The team will have a short individual film study on the holiday and then join Miller later on for a Thanksgiving dinner at his house. But there won’t be any time for players to go home and visit family, as they’ll have to stay in Tucson despite the extended break from classes.
“You don’t really get holidays around here, especially when you’re playing,” Hill said. “It’s nice to enjoy [Thanksgiving] as a team, we’re going to get together as a team. But the goal is to win, so you can only take so many days off.”