Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
If told that in March of any season that a Sean Miller basketball team would be a bad defensive team, most fans wouldn't believe it. For most of his career, Miller has hung his hat on the defensive side of the ball.
But the truth is, at this point in the season, Arizona is a bad defensive team. In Wednesday's loss to the USC Trojans, the Wildcats allowed one of the worst shooting teams in the nation to shoot over 60 percent from the field.
For long stretches of that game, Arizona looked helpless. Open shot after open shot went down and Arizona could do nothing to stop them. USC looked like it was playing its little brother. Or like a pro team playing a college team. The Trojans made everything and Arizona did little to get in their way.
And this was done by guys no one has ever heard of: Eric Wise, J.T. Terrell and Byron Wesley. Now Arizona faces Shabazz Muhammad, the Wear twins, Larry Drew II, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson. If USC looked like a pro team, UCLA is going to look like the 1987 Showtime Lakers.
If Arizona is going to win, adjustments need to be made of the defensive side of the ball. It is scary to say this so late in the season, but there is no doubt about it. The Wildcats have stopped playing fundamental defense. They jump wildly at every shot fake instead of playing down and boxing out after an attempt.
More than any other issue, the Wildcats reach and reach (and reach) instead of just cutting off the lane by sliding their feet. The Wildcats overplay nearly everything, and as a result it is incredibly easy to get the ball in the lane against them. This is a recipe for disaster. It causes breakdowns on every possession and leads to good shots by the other team.
If you look at the game possession by possession, you can see this happening. Arizona comes out with great ball pressure and hawks the ball, and the energy is great and fun to watch. But because there is so much overplay, the defender will get beaten, there will be a mad scramble to cover open guys and inevitably there will be an open shot.
The Wildcats must fix their defensive woes and play some fundamental defense. Otherwise, UCLA is going to torch Arizona for the second time this season.