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Christmas wish list: What does Arizona want and need?


Mike Miller

From now until Christmas, Beyond the Arc will detail what some teams need. Hey, we’re in a giving mood.

Arizona began its holiday break with an ideal win – 100-60 over Bryant – that allowed Sean Miller’s team to continue working out the kinks from an up-and-down non-conference run and build some more confidence entering Pac-12 play. The Wildcats (9-4) haven’t been terrible, but spotty guard play and a lack of size made things though against good teams.

So what would Miller ask Santa to boost Arizona’s fortunes after the holidays? Here’s what:

What other teams have Christmas wish lists? Click here.

Must have: Lifts for the frontcourt.

Size will be an issue for Arizona until its big recruits arrive next season Jesse Perry (6-7), Solomon Hill (6-6) and Kevin Parrom (6-6) do their best, but it’s asking a lot when you’re consistently fighting for rebounds or trying to shoot over guys four or five inches taller. So why not sneak an extra inch or two into those guys’ sneakers?

Getting significant minutes from the likes of junior Kyryl Natyazhko (6-11) or freshman Angelo Chol (6-9)would be ideal, but until then, Perry, Hill and Parrom will have to find ways to boost Arizona’s offensive rebounding. Or just tell everyone to start hitting more shots. That’d cut down on the chance of offensive rebounds, too.

Stocking stuffer: A consistent perimeter threat.

For a team that made nearly 40 percent of its 3-pointers last season, Arizona would love to start hitting shots to space out the defense and create driving lanes for the guards. Derrick Williams isn’t around to clean things up, so that means guys like Kyle Fogg (44.7 percent) and Nick Johnson (37.5 percent) have to be consistent perimeter options. (Hill and Josiah Turner need to stop shooting from outside.)

Then again, maybe the answer is simply to find more PT for senior Brandon Lavender! He’s the Wildcats’ most efficient scorer (129.8 ORtg), its best outside threat (15 of 24 on the year) and is coming off a career high 18 points against Bryant. If Lavender’s a bit more selfish with his shot or gets another 4-5 minutes a game, that’s a start.

Planning to re-gift: That preseason hype for the 2011 recruiting class.

We’re guilty of this, but we were hardly alone. Johnson, Turner, Chol and Sidiki Johnson comprised a Top 5 class. But we were barely a month into the season before Turner landed in Miller’s doghouse, Sidiki Johnson transferred and Chol languished on the bench. Nick Johnson’s been good, but the freshmen class has hardly lived up to its billing.

There’s still time for them to make an impact, but it seems unlikely.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.