Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Coming into Balance

You have to hand it to San Diego State.   They out-shot us and beat us on the boards.  I thought they played terrific defense, and they almost won, despite Jamaal Franklin having a tough night.  I thought their pick and roll offense was particularly effective, leading to many easy shots at the rim.   The Cats pulled it off with defense by forcing 15 turnovers, and by making just enough free throws.

Solomon Hill looked like a different player last night.  He was very aggressive, taking 15 shots in all.  He shot the ball 16 times against Clemson (making only two of those), but on a typical night for Solo, his field goal attempts are in the single digits.  Solomon finished the night with 21 points.  It struck me that this team does not produce many 20 point efforts for individual players.  Rather, the scoring is often very balanced.  So, here are two trivia questions: 1) In the 116 games he has played in an Arizona jersey, how many times has Solomon Hill scored 20 or more points?  2) How many times this year has an Arizona player scored at least 20 points in a single outing?

The answer to the first question you might find surprising.  Hill has scored 20 or more points in only five games.  It never happened in his first season (09-10), although he came off the bench and finished with 17 in his first game against NAU on 11/15/09 to lead all Arizona players.  Solo had one 20 point game in his sophomore season against Santa Clara; he had three last year, including a 28 point effort against Washington in which he was 9 for 10 from the field.

As for the second question, when I think back on the Olson years, it seemed like somebody was getting 20 points nearly every night.  Now, that doesn't seem to to be the case.  It's important to keep in mind that on teams with significant depth, minutes are reduced and so are chances to score.  Also, when there are many legitimate scoring options, individual point totals are expected to decline.  So this year, how many times has an Arizona player scored 20 or more points?  It has happened on four occasions, and each time it was a different guy: Brandon Ashley (11/19, 20 pt), Nick Johnson (12/4, 23 pt), Mark Lyons (12/8, 20 pt), and Solomon Hill(12/25, 21 pt).


 The graph above shows the number of 20 point scorers per game for the last five seasons, except I should note that the 08-09 season only includes the final 12 games.  Notice that for the most part, 20 point games are becoming increasingly rare, making the most significant drop upon the arrival of Sean Miller.  This year, they are especially uncommon. 

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