After Jerryd Bayless (the freshman sensation who scored 103 points over 3 games) had his name exonerated from the locker room the Arizona Wildcats knew they would have a new leading scorer this upcoming season.
For starters though, they couldn’t count on any incoming talent to relieve their scoring digress. Former Arizonarecruits Solomon Hill, Abdul Gaddy, Mike Moser all de-committed after learning of legendary coach Lute Olson’s decision to end his coaching career.
They even had trouble soothing their own first-year players. Jeff Withey, who committed to the Wildcats’ program, was not granted a release despite his perfuse request while fellow unhappy commit Emmanuel Negedu’s request was granted and he is now a member of the Tennessee Volunteers’. Withey has yet to log a minute of playing time this season.
The Wildcats’ have established one thing: The absence of Lute Olson is a sure-fire remedy to repel 5-star talent.
Newly ordained coach Russ Pennell had no choice but to make lemonade out of the disbanded bunch of lemons that suffered defeat by the hands of West Virginia in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament.
It’s a good thing lurking among the bunch were limes Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill, both all Pac-10 Selections.
Sliding off screens and running around the baseline, Budinger scores the meat of his points thanks to good off-ball antics and is a deadly shooter when he caresses the ball. Primarily a catch-and-shoot player, the 6-foot-7 forward is shooting a Pac-10 best, 65.4 percent from downtown and has increased his points-per-game average and three point and field goal percentage this season. In addition, Budinger’s assist-to-turnover ratio, rebounding, assists, and steals are all on the rise from a season ago.
Budinger averages 21 PPG on 65 percent field goal shooting (third in the Pac-10) while leading the offense and Hill averages 12.2 RPG and 2.8 BPG while patrolling the paint and shunpiking the opposition.
Together, (prior to last night’s contest vs Loyola-Marymount) the two combined for 42.6 PPG, 18.2 RPG, and 3.2 BPG, the best 1-2 forward combo punch in the land, more productive than the tandem of Thabeet-Adrien (UConn), Harangody-Zeller (Notre Dame), Blair-Young (Pitt) and the Griffin Bros. of Oklahoma.
Disbarring a series of idiotic fouls by freshman Kyle Fogg and sophomore Jamelle Horne in the Wildcats’ 72-71 loss vs UAB, Arizonawould be tied for first in the Pac-10, but nonetheless they have a better record (5-1) than routine Pac-10 preseason-powerhouse favorite, UCLA who stands at 4-1.
In that game Hill snatched a career-high 22 rebounds to go along with 2 rejections and 11 points. Jordan has registered a double in 4-of-5 games this year, including last night’s 23-10 feat against Northern Arizona.
Despite being a ferocious and intensity fueled defensive figurehead, out of his 68-game collegiate career, Hill has logged 1,673 minutes and only fouled out twice.
Also an underrated scorer, Hill is also the only player in the Pac-10 to have 12 consecutive games with a block and 13 consecutive games with double-figures, (dating back to last season).
Assertive on the glass, the Atlantarecruit leads the Pac-10 in rebounding with 13 boards per game
Not to be outdone, in the UAB loss Budinger scored a season-high 27 points on 4-of-8 shooting from long distance and contributed eight points and an assist in the final 9:02 of the UAB contest.
Whether or not Arizonais scanning the field for a big-name coach to recover some of the big name talent they relinquished early, Russ Pennell has done a great job of managing the Wildcats’. Him and stars Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill.