Athleticism on display in Red-Blue game
Last season Arizona was a very athletic team, but this year's team led by Deandre Ayton looks bigger and even more athletic.
“I thought our team did a really good job,” Sean Miller said in the postgame press conference. “This freshman class has an opportunity to be the best freshman class we have brought in.”
The most noticeable part of the freshman class was their size. Even though there is hardly any defense in the Red-Blue game, the team's size and quickness looked promising. Arizona looks to be a tough matchup for any team in the country defensively.
Freshman Deandre Ayton had one of the two threes the Wildcats hit all night. Ayton took the game over effortlessly, calmly knocking down the first shot of the game from midrange. He almost recorded a double-double with 21 points and nine rebounds in 19 minutes on 71 percent shooting. He looked at home both around the basket and with his jump shot.
“I think for anyone in the country it's going to be a tough task to battle down low with him,” Parker Jackson Cartwright said.
Miller likened Ayton to Lauri Markkanen from last season saying that the gap between Markkanen’s shooting ability and Ayton's is much less than most people think.
Another takeaway was guard Brandon Randolph. Randolph showed promise early on by hitting tough contested shots. He finished with 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting and he looked like an additional part of a possible deadly combo alongside Trier while Rawle Alkins is out with a broken foot.
With Ayton and Trier taking so much of the opponents attention defensively, Randolph may see a fair amount of open shots.
As a whole, 3-point shooting was less than impressive. Each team hit only one shot from behind the arch. At the postgame press conference Jackson-Cartwright said that even though their shooting was poor he is not worried and is confident in the team's ability.
Jackson-Cartwright's defense looked improved from last year as he made freshman Alex Barcello's life difficult. He seemed quicker and more dialed in, creating several turnovers in the first half.
Talking about defense, Miller said that Emmanuel Akot will be the player to possibly take Kadeem Allen's role as a defensive juggernaut. He said he considers Akot to be one of the best defenders he has ever coached and likened him to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Aaron Gordon.
“He is as good a defensive player that we have ever had,” Miller said. “He will be able to defend the team's best player.”
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