Three things to watch when UA hoops takes on Chico State
Several veterans look to refine skills and define roles
A lot of attention has been paid to the freshmen in the preseason, but with one game left on the exhibition slate in a matchup against Division-II Chico State tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the McKale Center, several storylines concerning veteran players need to be watched.
The early struggles of Parrom
Last year guard/forward Kevin Parrom experienced tragedy after tragedy. His mother and grandmother passed away and he was shot in the leg during a trip to New York. He was able to fight his way back onto the court, but the bad luck persisted as he suffered a season-ending fracture in his right foot.
Now the senior has returned to full strength emotionally and physically, head coach Sean Miller said, but his play on the court hasn’t.
“He hasn’t practiced well recently,” Miller said. “He did some good things in the game [against Humboldt State], but Kevin’s going to be fine. He’s very important to our team. He gives us another old, experienced player, an excellent shooter and we’re going to be a better team if he plays well.”
Parrom scored eight points on 3-for-4 shooting against the Lumberjacks last Wednesday, but his influence was limited elsewhere on the court and went largely unnoticed in his 18 minutes of play.
This isn’t the first time Miller has said Parrom is underperforming in practice, but with the season just around the corner, the Wildcats will need to see more from one of their key seniors.
The forgotten guard
Last year was not memorable for guard Jordin Mayes. After playing a pivotal role in Arizona’s second round matchup against Texas in the NCAA tournament in 2011’s Elite Eight run, in which Mayes went 4-for-4 from the three point line and had 16 points and two steals in 19 minutes, the future looked bright for the then-freshman guard.
But during last year’s offseason, Mayes had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot, and the injury continued to bother him, eventually returning in a Feb. 2 game at Cal. Even though Mayes played in 29 games, he never made the leap forward and regressed because of the injury. His scoring average dipped down slightly to just 4.7 per game and he shot 29 percent from the three point line — a far cry from his 45.3 percent his freshman season.
This year Mayes will likely come off the bench to backup Mark Lyons, and the junior guard impressed Miller against Humboldt State.
“I thought Jordin Mayes came into the game and did a really good job,” Miller said. “Jordin has a lot of experience, he’s an important part of our team as well. It’s always great when he comes in and plays well.”
Mayes scored six points and had four assists in 17 minutes of action against Humboldt State.
Free throw woes
While Arizona’s early issues at the line don’t fall solely on the head of sophomore Angelo Chol, the Wildcats’ only veteran big-man looked a bit rusty from the foul line against Humboldt State.
In the Red-Blue game and against the Lumberjacks, Chol shot 3-of-9, which is well under his 67.9 percent shooting average last year. As a team, Arizona shot 19-for-32 against Humboldt State, which is 64.9 percent from the line this preseason.
“We got to the foul line quite a bit through our offensive rebounding and posting up,” Miller said. “I think we’re a physical team, but when you get there you have to convert.”
Arizona was 110th from the line last year with 70.5 percent shooting, which was still second best in the Pac-12. Now that the Wildcats have an interior presence, Chol and the rest of the big men will need to convert from the charity stripe to make it a real advantage.