Wichita State’s big men are on call again in the NCAA Tournament, facing a team with superior size. Unlike Vanderbilt, Arizona knows how to use its size, according to a coach who’s faced the Wildcats this season.
He spoke on the condition neither his name nor school is revealed.
“They’re a very physically dominating team,” our coach said. “Size, speed, quickness. Very well-coached. They play extremely hard.”
▪ The Wildcats start with center Kaleb Tarczewski (9.4 points, 9.3 rebounds) and forward Ryan Anderson (15.5, 10.1).
“They’re going to really throw the ball inside,” our anonymous coach said. “It’s a pretty simple offense. The play inside-out. They attack the basket and drive the ball to the rim.”
Tarczewski scores on dunks, rebounds, jump hooks and rolling to the rim off picks. He is not a player skilled enough to go for big numbers based on footwork and moves. Anderson, a transfer from Boston College, is 155 for 208 from the foul line (Ron Baker leads WSU with 135 attempts).
“Those two guys are so big,” our coach said. “Anderson is really strong and gets to the foul line a lot. He’s really, really hard to block out.”
They also give Arizona’s man to man a physical presence.
“Tarczewski can be an extremely dominating defensive player,” our coach said. “They’re not easy to score on around the rim.”
Arizona will go at Shaq Morris and Anton Grady often. WSU probably cannot survive another foul-plagued effort by Morris, who played nine minutes against Vanderbilt.
▪ Arizona’s weak spot, and it’s a mild one, is point guard.
Junior Kadeem Allen is capable of playing the position, but it’s not his best spot. Sophomore Parker Jackson-Cartwright isn’t physically ready, especially on defense.
Allen is the team’s best perimeter defender.
“He can guard that position as well as anybody,” our coach said.
▪ Arizona’s defense is aggressive, but getting steals is not a big part of the plan.
“You can kind of run your offense and get the ball moved,” our anonymous coach said. “Getting the ball inside the three-point line is tough to do. Their defense is great three-point line and in. You’re going to have to make some threes.”
▪ How the game is officiated could be crucial.
“If the refs let them play, they’re even better,” he said. “They don’t break down. They rotate. They help their teammates.”
▪ Guard Gabe York makes 42.5 percent of his threes. Guard Allonzo Trier, a freshman, averages 15 points and shoots 47.2 percent from the field, 36.5 from three. Allen averages 8.3 points.
“You have to really respect (York and Trier) from three,” he said. “York made nine threes (vs. Stanford). Trier is their most talented offensive player, so athletic.”
▪ The Wildcats are solid off the bench with forward Mark Tollefsen, who started 13 games, 7-footer Dusan Ristic and Jackson-Cartwright doing most of the work.
▪ Arizona went 5-5 in road games and 3-2 on a neutral court. In five of those losses, they failed to crack 80 points.
▪ The Shockers pulled away from Vanderbilt with a big push from players such as Conner Frankamp, Markis McDuffie and Zach Brown. It will be up to those supporting players to take some of the burden off Baker and Fred VanVleet.
Can they play well for a second game in a row against good competition?
Wichita State vs. Arizona
- What: NCAA first-round game
- When: About 8:20 p.m. Thursday
- Where: Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, R.I.
- Records: WSU 25-8, UA 25-8
- Radio: KEYN, 103.7-FM
- TV: TNT