Arizona Wildcats Productivity Report: Fans offer opinion on UA’s strengths, weaknesses

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Kaleb Tarczewski has the biggest room for improvement among the Wildcats according to some fans (Pac-12 Networks video screen shot, click on photo to access video)

Kaleb Tarczewski has the biggest room for improvement among the Wildcats according to some fans (Pac-12 Networks video screen shot, click on photo to access video)


WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY RATING?:
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)

ASU 81, ARIZONA 78
PRODUCTIVITY RATING

* — STARTERS

Player Pos PP MIN PR
*T.J. McConnell PG 30 34 .882
*Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 25 37 .676
*Brandon Ashley PF 14 30 .467
*Stanley Johnson SF 14 33 .424
Gabe York SG 4 21 .190
*Kaleb Tarczewski C 3 31 .097
Elliott Pitts SG -1 11 -.091
LESS THAN 10 MIN
Dusan Ristic C -2 3 -.667
TOTAL TEAM 87 200 .435

PAC-12 RPI RATING
Present RPI ranking of the Pac-12.

Rank Team Ovr Pac12 SOS Top50
No.7 Arizona 20-3 8-2 25 4-0
No.13 Utah 17-4 8-2 56 2-4
No.45 Stanford 16-7 7-4 87 2-4
No.50 UCLA 14-10 6-5 17 3-5
No.59 Oregon 16-7 7-4 79 2-4
No.71 Oregon St. 15-7 7-4 130 2-2
No.74 Washington 14-9 3-8 66 2-3
No.95 Arizona St. 12-11 4-6 23 1-5
No.107 California 15-9 5-6 99 1-5
No.108 Colorado 11-11 4-6 50 1-7
No.131 Washington St. 10-13 4-7 74 1-3
No.166 USC 9-14 1-10 55 0-5

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I posed this question the other day to Arizona Wildcats fans on a Facebook page devoted to the basketball program that includes more than 4,200 members:

“What do UA fans like most about this year’s team? What do they want to improve the most?”

Thirty-four fans responded in a two-day period and many of them had multiple answers rather than a decisive opinion of what is foremost good and bad with the Wildcats in their eyes.

Here are the Top Five answers for each category:

What needs to improve the most:

1. The play of Kaleb Tarczewski and his hand-to-eye coordination

2. Avoiding playing down to the competition

3. Brandon Ashley’s aggressiveness

4. Perimeter shooting

5. Defensive consistency

Other areas in need of improvement according to the fans: Intensity on the road, toughness, more unity like last year’s team, making 1-foot shots, killer instinct, dominance like last year, playing more in sync on offense, free throws, Stanley Johnson’s defensive miscues, inability to pass ball into the paint, team chemistry and Matt Korcheck’s playing time.

What do fans like the most?

1. T.J. McConnell’s play and leadership

2. Johnson being fun to watch and his athleticism

3. Arizona at its best against the top teams

4. Intensity, especially at home

5. Unselfishness and togetherness

Others areas fans like of this team: Ability to score, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s “moves”, Arizona’s record is better than it should be, energy and clutch play of Gabe York and steady improvement overall of the team.

The answers were more critical than complimentary of the Wildcats, who are ranked No. 7 with a 20-3 record overall and tied for first place in the Pac-12 at 8-2.



HOW ARE THEY DOING?
Present RPI ranking of Arizona’s non-conference opponents.

Rank Opponent Rec Result Date
No.8 Gonzaga 23-1 UA/66-63 (OT) 12/6/14
No.30 SDSU 17-6 UA/61-59 11/26/14
No.79 Michigan 12-11 UA/83-50 12/13/14
No.85 UTEP 16-7 UA/60-55 12/19/14
No.99 UNLV 12-10 UNLV/71-67 12/23/14
No.102 K-State 12-12 UA/72-68 11/25/14
No.111 UC-Irvine 12-9 UA/71-54 11/19/14
No.137 Gardner-Webb 12-9 UA/91-65 12/2/14
No.138 Oakland 10-13 UA/101-63 12/16/14
No.168 Missouri 6-16 UA/72-53 11/24/14
No.171 Mt.St.Mary's 11-12 UA/78-55 11/14/14
No.282 CS Northridge 5-19 UA/86-68 11/16/14
No.288 Utah Valley 7-14 UA/87-56 12/9/14

Some answers countered others, such as the complaint of a lack of team chemistry contrasting the praise that Arizona is unselfish and shows togetherness.

Where fans agreed the most was the play of Tarczewski, a junior nicknamed “Zeus” who is not as God-like with his numbers from last year. He averaged 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds last season. He is at 8.3 and 5.0 this season. He shot 75.6 percent from the free-throw line last season. He is at 68.5 percent this season. He averaged a blocked shot a game last season. He has only 14 in 23 games this season.

In today’s press conference the first question posed of Sean Miller was, “Is Kaleb meeting your expectations?”

“Probably not right now,” Miller said. “I would say that some of what Kaleb brings to the table in terms of his overall value you don’t really see on the stat sheet.

“I’ve said it from the outset of our season he is where he is supposed to be. He is physical. He is hard-working. He is hard-playing and he’s very determined on defense and that impacts a lot for our team.”

Tarczewski actually has 13 steals this season, which is almost equal to his total (15) from his first two seasons.

Many of the respondents were critical of Tarczewski’s hands. Miller agreed today, mentioning that Tarczewski has struggled the most on offense, catching the ball, finishing and having confidence.

“I believe he can get that confidence back,” Miller said. “It’s up to us as a coaching staff to help him get that confidence back because we are a better team when he can contribute 10 points or more in a game and he is certainly capable.”

Tarczewski has always been turnover prone with 63 last season after posting 54 as a freshman. He is at 40 this season and on pace to have about 54 by the end of the regular season. Most big men are turnover prone. One of Arizona’s most fundamentally-sound centers — Sean Rooks — had 230 turnovers in his four-year career. Tarczewski is at 157.

Does Tarczewski have room for improvement? Yes. Does he have an athletic Aaron Gordon playing next to him to free him up more this year? No. Gordon’s ability to attract defenders is not happening as much with Ashley, who is not as athletic as Gordon and is not involved around the rim as much as Gordon.

Tarczewski is not a part overall in the offensive flow because much of Arizona’s scoring is predicated on McConnell, Johnson, Hollis-Jefferson and Ashley. Tarczewski attempted 219 field goals last season with Ashley out with the foot injury in the last two months and Nick Johnson, Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson being the main scoring threats.

He has attempted only 125 field goals through the first 23 games. He is on pace to attempt only 168 by the end of the regular season.

In other words, Tarczewski may not be as tuned in as he was last season because he is not as much in the focal point of the execution. It’s up to him as a third-year player to overcome that and be prepared at all times rather than fall back.

Another significant area of agreement among the fans is Arizona playing up and down to its competition level. There is some truth to that.

The Wildcats are 4-0 against RPI Top 50 teams Gonzaga, San Diego State, Utah and Stanford. They have lost to No. 71 Oregon State, No. 95 ASU and No. 98 UNLV.

Johnson is another hot topic on the team with many fans enjoying his aggressive style of play. Some detractors questioned his willingness to pass off the dribble, improve the team chemistry and play tough on defense at all times.

McConnell’s leadership and performance overall is far and away the most positive aspect of the team mentioned by fans. He has become a fan favorite in the mold of Arizona’s most popular point guards (Steve Kerr, Damon Stoudamire, Mike Bibby, Jason Terry and Jason Gardner).

One other thing a few fans agree on, despite it not directly involved with Arizona’s team — the referees. They want them replaced with others who are not whistle-happy.

Everybody has an opinion, right or wrong, from Lexington, Ky., to Madison, Wis., to Tucson. That’s the beauty of sports.

SEASON PRODUCTIVITY RATING

Player Pos G S PP MIN PR
Stanley Johnson SG 23 22 503 666 .755
R.Hollis-Jefferson SF 23 10 444 643 .691
T.J. McConnell PG 23 23 413 688 .600
Brandon Ashley PF 23 23 373 650 .574
Gabe York SG 22 13 230 477 .482
P.Jackson-Cartwright PG 21 0 105 216 .486
Kaleb Tarczewski C 23 23 274 611 .448
Elliott Pitts SG 23 1 89 347 .256
AVG 5-9.9 MIN
Craig Victor PF 8 0 38 57 .667
Dusan Ristic C 23 0 99 211 .469
AVG 1-4.9 MIN
Matt Korcheck PF 12 0 30 32 .938
Trey Mason SG 8 0 2 11 .182
Drew Mellon SF 6 0 1 9 .111
Jacob Hazzard PG 10 0 -7 12 -.583
TOTAL TEAM 23 2594 4625 .561


ARIZONA PAC-10/12
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:

Name (Year) G S PP MIN PR
Derrick Williams (2011) 38 38 1190 1141 1.043
Sean Elliott (1989) 33 33 1128 1125 1.003
Chris Mills (1993) 28 28 838 870 .963
Sean Elliott (1988) 38 38 1167 1249 .934
D. Stoudamire (1995) 30 30 964 1092 .883
Mike Bibby (1998) 35 35 905 1124 .805
Jason Terry (1999) 29 29 877 1107 .792
Nick Johnson (2014) 38 38 848 1254 .676

ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS

Date Opponent Results TeamPR Productivity Leader Pos PP MIN PR
Feb. 7 ASU 81-78 (L) .435 T.J. McConnell PG 30 34 .882
Jan. 30 Oregon 57-34 (W) .475 T.J. McConnell PG 22 30 .733
Jan. 28 Oregon 90-56 (W) .715 Dusan Ristic C 18 13 1.385
Jan. 24 Cal 73-50 (W) .550 Stanley Johnson SG 31 30 1.033
Jan. 22 Stanford 89-82 (W) .585 Brandon Ashley PF 22 16 1.375
Jan. 17 Utah 69-51 (W) .525 Stanley Johnson SG 30 28 1.071
Jan. 15 Colorado 68-54 (W) .545 Stanley Johnson SG 40 32 1.250
Jan. 11 Oregon St. 58-56 (L) .365 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 26 34 .765
Jan. 8 Oregon 80-62 (W) .590 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 26 25 1.040
Jan. 4 ASU 73-49 (W) .530 Dusan Ristic C 14 11 1.273
Dec. 23 UNLV 71-67 (L) .446 T.J. McConnell PG 28 39 .718
Dec. 19 UTEP 60-55 (W) .395 T.J. McConnell PG 23 35 .657
Dec. 16 Oakland 101-64 (W) .835 Craig Victor PF 13 10 1.300
Dec. 13 Michigan 84-50 (W) .640 Stanley Johnson SF 31 27 1.148
Dec. 9 Utah Valley 87-56 (W) .710 Dusan Ristic C 23 18 1.278
Dec. 6 Gonzaga 66-63 OT (W) .435 Brandon Ashley PF 19 38 .500
Dec. 2 Gardner-Webb 91-65 (W) .745 Parker Jackson-Cartwright PG 17 13 1.308
Nov. 26 San Diego State 61-59 (W) .525 Stanley Johnson SG 29 37 .784
Nov. 25 Kansas State 72-68 (W) .540 Stanley Johnson SG 21 25 .840
Nov. 24 Missouri 72-53 (W) .525 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 25 23 1.087
Nov. 19 Cal-Irvine 71-54 (W) .610 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 31 29 1.069
Nov. 16 Cal State-Northridge 86-68 (W) .605 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 26 22 1.182
Nov. 14 Mt. St. Mary's 78-55 (W) .660 Rondae Hollis-Jefferson SF 28 21 1.333

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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