Adams State comes into tonight's game with a 2-0 record, led by senior Rece Hampton. The 6'5 forward leads the Grizzlies in points per game and rebounds per game, while shooting a terrific 65% from the field. Despite being undersized, Hampton still manages to control the glass for the Grizzlies, pulling down 5 offensive rebounds per game.
The Grizzlies are also led by another senior, 6'1 guard Larry Charles Jr. Charles Jr., a product out of Tucson, averages 16.5 points per game for the Grizzlies, along with 5 rebounds per game. The Grizzlies have a good number of upper class men on their squad, including five seniors. While we've seen teams come into the McKale Center and be in awe of the atmosphere, the banners surrounding them, and the name Arizona, you should expect this team be poised under the control of first year head coach, Mark Murdock.
While the Grizzlies haven't played the most competitive teams so far this season, they've been productive in shooting the basketball, rebounding the basketball, and taking care of the basketball, for the most part. They have played both their regular season games at home, so this road trip to the McKale Center should be the ultimate test for the Grizzlies of Adams State.
The Grizzlies don't have a lot of size in their front court with their tallest player being 6'7 senior forward Kevin Johnson. This could work to Arizona's advantage, particularly guys like Jordan Hill, Bret Brielmaier, and Chase Budinger. However, this will be the second straight game that Arizona has an obvious advantage in the front court, which they need to capitalize on. Despite having an advantage in size against UMKC, the Wildcats only managed to out rebound the Kangaroos by seven. Despite being undersized themselves, Arizona needs to limit the second chance opportunities for their opponent if they intend on being a successful basketball team.
The Wildcats displayed some positives in their win over UMKC. The three guard, and sometimes four guard lineups worked extremely well for the Cats. They got big contributions from unlikely players in Daniel Dillon & Laval Lucas-Perry. Dillon, starting for the second consecutive game, had a perfect night from the floor, scoring 14 points for the Wildcats. Lucas-Perry, playing his first significant minutes of his college basketball career, gave Arizona a much needed spark in the first half. Lucas-Perry played a season high 24 minutes against UMKC, scoring 9 points, grabbing 5 rebounds, and dishing out 2 assists.
However, that wasn't the story of Monday's game as freshman sensation Jerryd Bayless missed a triple double by a single rebound and assist. Despite almost accomplishing such a feat, both Bayless and interim head coach Kevin O'Neill made sure to note that Bayless nearly had a quadruple double including his 6 turnovers; but Bayless wasn't the only Wildcat turning the basketball over as the Cats committed 14 turnovers, most of which came in the first half of Monday's game.
The Wildcats had great shot distribution in Monday's win over UMKC. There wasn't one player that took double figure shot attempts, which shows the unselfishness of this basketball team. Based on their first three games, this team has great chemistry; more so than we've seen from an Arizona basketball team in a few years. However, this team is a bit too unselfish at times. They tend to overpass at times, resulting in an abundance of turnovers. This should change once guys continue to accept and understand their roles on this basketball team.
On paper, the Wildcats seem to have quite the advantage over the Grizzlies. However, you shouldn't expect this Adams State team to come in and play like they've never played the game of basketball before. They're a veteran team, led by an abundance of upper class men which should work to their advantage. If you're Arizona, it's tough not to look ahead to Sunday's game in Lawrence versus the Kansas Jayhawks, but Arizona still needs to take care of tonight's business before heading into Sunday's showdown.
Continuing to improve will be the key for the Wildcats tonight and throughout the season. Taking two steps forward, rather than one step back should be exactly what they're trying to do, continuing with tonight's matchup versus Adams State.