Badger of Honor sat down again with Zona Zealots for an Elite Eight preview ahead of the Wisconsin-Arizona game.
Be sure to check out Zona Zealots and stay tuned for tournament updates throughout the weekend.
Now, on to our questions. Thanks again to Zona Zealots editor Shereen Rayan for taking soe time to answer a few questions.
BoH: This is the same match up we saw a year ago in the Elite Eight, and it ended in a controversy. How are Arizona fans reacting to the opportunity for a rematch?
ZZ: Bring it on! We cannot wait for ‘redempsean” (see what I did there?) The players want to win this game for their coach, it would be his first Final Four as a head coach. Most experts and the bookies feel this game is going to be very close and come down to free throws, so Wisconsin is great at making their free throws, this is a concern as the Wildcats were fantastic last night and have made lots of progress making their free throws, unfortunately, the referee’s do not send our players to the stripe very often in the first half at least.
BoH: Frank Kaminsky has 63 points, 27 rebounds and 8 assists in this tournament so far. How is Arizona planning to slow him down?
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ZZ: I believe Brandon Ashley has already been heard saying he is going to guard Kaminsky, but we all know that what works against big men as far defending them is to double team them. It wasn’t until late in the second half against Xavier that the Wildcats double teamed him in the corner, forcing him to call a time out. It shut him down. Otherwise, the Wildcats can leave Kaminsky alone and just guard everyone else if guarding him is not working. The last thing that’s a possibility is to increase the speed of the game to take Wisconsin out of their methodical transitions to offense. If they can get turnovers and fast breaks, it may be hard to stop Arizona.
BoH: The consensus about this Arizona team is they’re great defensively, but have struggled to score at times. How do you see them putting points up against a very good Badgers defense?
ZZ: Usually Arizona is slow to get started, but when they get warmed up, they can really get going, and you never know who it will be. Last night it was T.J. McConnell, and after all the balls he threw away and mistakes he made in the first half, he made up for in the second scoring a team high of `17 points. Arizona had three players in double figures, and Kaleb Tarszewski had a double double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. If the paint doesn’t work for them, then they turn to Gabe York for his three point shots. Also Parker Jackson-Cartwright is always a spark plug that ignites the team. I am not worried, there are plenty of players that can step up and get shots.
Cincy on the Prowl
BoH: In our last interview, you told us pretty much any Wildcat could come up big on any given night. If we see another one-pessession game with time winding down, who do you want to see taking Arizona’s final shot with the game on the line?
ZZ: Oh, that’s a hard one! I think T.J. McConnell or Gabe York, being point guards, sometimes the opponents forget to guard them and they sneak a three pointer in there. If it was down to free throws, I think Kaleb Tarczweski or T.J. McConnell.
BoH: What is the key to victory for the Wildcats in the Elite Eight?
ZZ: Keep their cool, don’t give up. I think their new word is “persevere.” Can’t let the other team under your skin, it seemed to be working a little last night from Xavier. I saw Stanley staring down the Xavier bench. I asked the twitter-verse to clue me in, and they said the Xavier bench was talking trash to Stanley. He is young, and he has done a great job not letting it get to him, but he need to just tune people out. They have to play their best defense, they have to play team ball (no one should take the game on their own shoulders except for T.J.), and the have to cause turn overs and make more fast breaks, keep the game moving at a fast pace.
BoH: Care to offer a prediction?
ZZ: Arizona 72 – Wisconsin 70
It’s been great having this dialog with Badger of Honor, may the best team win! BEARDOWN ARIZONA!