Arizona Athletics

Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson taking leave for health reasons

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Friday evening it was announced by the Arizona basketball program that assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson would be taking some time away from the program for health reasons. Richardson has been an assistant under Arizona head coach Sean Miller since Miller accepted the job in 2009.

“I have made the decision to take time away from the University of Arizona for health reasons,” Richardson said in the release. “This is not a life or death situation, but nonetheless very important. I am very appreciative to be given the flexibility to temporarily step away from coaching and basketball, and to concentrate on my well-being.

“I want to thank Coach Miller, the Arizona basketball family and the athletic department for allowing me this opportunity. I look forward to returning to the Arizona basketball program.”

Prior to making the move to Tucson Richardson was a member of Miller’s coaching staff at Xavier from 2007-09, and his presence on the staff has had a significant impact on the recruiting trail. Arizona’s put together Top 10 recruiting classes in each of the last three years, with the 2012 and 2013 classes being ranked in the top five.

“We support Coach Richardson’s decision to take some time off from his coaching duties,” said Miller. “What’s most important at this time is that he takes care of himself. We will miss his contribution to our program, but giving him time away is the best thing we can do to help. We look forward to his return.”

Also on Coach Miller’s staff as assistants are Joe Pasternack and Damon Stoudamire, who returned to his alma mater in May after spending two years on Josh Pastner’s staff at Memphis.

NCAA rules Arizona forward Zach Peters eligible to play immediately

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With the start of practices being less than 24 hours away, college basketball coaches would be best served if they know who will be available for the first official practices of the new season. That wasn’t the case for Arizona head coach Sean Miller, who had yet to hear from the NCAA regarding the status of forward Zach Peters.

Peters began his collegiate career at Kansas but wasn’t in Lawrence for long, as he decided last November that he wanted to transfer. In the immediate aftermath of that decision Peters signed a release that stated he would not transfer for medical reasons. According to a story written by Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star, it turns out that said agreement resulted in Peters’ case taking longer than expected. Thursday evening Arizona announced that the NCAA has ruled that Peters is eligible to play immediately, adding even more depth to a team that didn’t lack for front court options.

“Today’s news from the NCAA is very exciting for Zach and his family, as well as our basketball program,” Miller said in the release. “There was a lot of effort and cooperation that went into this waiver process. We’d like to thank the NCAA, the University of Kansas and many members of the Arizona Athletics family for their tireless efforts to make this a reality.

“To this point, Zach has participated with us and we’re still in the process of him returning to full competition and contact,” Miller added. “Zach has made tremendous progress in his time at Arizona, and we’re optimistic that with continued improvement, that time will come in the near future.”

Concussions have been an issue for Peters, as according to the Daily Star he’d suffered five in a two-year period, and that led to Kansas having him sign the aforementioned waiver. With the NCAA deeming him eligible to compete, the next question to be answered is when Peters will be cleared to take part in full contact drills.

The Wildcats, who lost two starters (Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill) from last season’s Sweet 16 team, return sophomores Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski and add McDonald’s All-Americans Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to the front court rotation. They’ll also have the services of 6-foot-10 redshirt junior Matt Korcheck, who redshirted last season.

Arizona, the favorites to win the Pac-12 in the eyes of many, doesn’t lack for options in the paint and that should ultimately help Peters as he continues to work towards a return to full contact.

Stanley Johnson, Justise Winslow package deal?

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This past weekend at the Under Armour Elite 24 in Brooklyn, the latest potential package deal — one that could punish defenses on the wing in the 2014-2015 season — was born.

Mater Dei High (Calif.) wing Stanley Johnson and St. John’s School (Texas) small forward Justise Winslow told that they have discussed that possibility.

“We got a couple of similar schools on our lists and I think together we can do something real special in college,” Johnson said after earning Co-MVP honors with Emmanuel Mudiay for Team Bed Stuy at Saturday’s Elite 24. “Me and him think similarly so me and him are really  talking about it, trying to get a decision done.”

The commons schools between the two 2014 wings are Arizona, Duke, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky and UCLA, though, Johnson said the two are keying in on Zona, UK and Florida with the USC potentialy becoming an option at some point.  Last week, the 6-foot-6 Johnson has set official visits to the Gainesville, Lexington, Tucson campuses as well as Southern Cal. Winslow told SNY that he is going to once again trim his list of offers; this time he’s be cutting it down to five from eight remaining schools.

“The best one-two punch in the country,” Johnson referred to himself and Winslow if they do make it to the same school.

It seems like these package deals will be tough to actually complete, specifically this one. Both Johnson and Winslow play the same position. Obviously, these two are versatile enough where one could be two-guard, but when you look at the schools that they are both considering, there’s too many factors. What if a guy like James Young remains at Kentucky for a sophomore year? Arizona freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson doesn’t appear to be a one-and-done candidate. Billy Donovan already landed a shooting guard for 2014 and like Kentucky is still in play for other elite wings like Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre.

As fun as the Johnson-Winslow combo would be, I’d like to see it before I believe it.

Johnson is ranked No. 8 in the Class of 2014 by Rivals, and Winslow is listed as No. 16, also by Rivals. It should be noted that the 6-foot-6 Winslow has also been rumored to be part of the Jahlil Okafor-Tyus Jones package deal.

Arizona advances to Sweet 16 after sending home upset-minded Harvard

Mark Lyons

No. 14-seeded Harvard’s moment in the spotlight has ended, coming to its conclusion Saturday evening with a 74-51 loss to Arizona at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Arizona was led by the senior duo of Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill, who had 27 points and 13 points respectively. Those two carried the offensive attack while the defense used its length to disrupt anything that Harvard tried to get going on that end of the floor. It wasn’t a matter of forcing turnovers (the Wildcats turned the Crimson over just eight times) but more about making the Crimson uncomfortable and unable to hit shots.

But how much can we really know about Arizona after the Wildcats made the Sweet 16 by getting wins over Belmont and Harvard? Give credit to them for beating teams that they should have beaten and beating them in the way that they should have. At the same time, both Belmont and Harvard have no real size on the interior, an area where Arizona could wilt against a challenge.

Without experience in the post between Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett, and Kaleb Tarczewski, a tough front line in the paint could spell trouble like it did at points in the Pac-12 season.

The other major question will be if the Wildcats can take care of the basketball against a team like Ohio State, who Arizona could meet if the Buckeyes get past Iowa State and advance to the Sweet 16. Mark Lyons is proving that he is the best ball handling option on the roster, but how will he fair against the defensive pressure that point guard Aaron Craft and Ohio State would bring?

Craft would be able to harass Lyons and force the ball elsewhere offensively. Considering that Lyons went 12-of-17 from the floor Saturday, Arizona would have to find a way to score without him if Craft locks him down. In back-to-back losses to UCLA and USC late in the conference season, Lyons shot a combined 6-of-24 from the floor. Effectively eliminating him changes the way Arizona plays.

Just as the 2013 tournament has been so far, it will come down to a matchup. Arizona now must await word of what that match up will be in the Sweet 16.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Late Night Snacks: Georgetown is rolling, Penn State shocks Michigan

Otto Porter
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Game of the Day: No. 7 Georgetown 78, Connecticut 77 (2OT)

Otto Porter, as you’ll read below, was everything Georgetown needed and more Wednesday. He was key in each of the Hoyas’ last three possessions, but it was also his supporting cast that came up in a big spot. Without Greg Whittington because of his ineligibility, freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera has emerged as a legitimate third scoring option with 14 points in the win. Add that to Markel Starks and package it all with a team focused on defense, and it’s no wonder why Georgetown is on such a streak.

Important Outcomes

1. Penn State 84, No. 4 Michigan 78

In perhaps the biggest upset of the year (in good company with TCU’s win over Kansas), few saw a Penn State victory coming Wednesday night. The Nittany Lions simply outplayed a potent Michigan offense and played at the Wolverines’ pace on their way to a win. As for Michigan, there is little to say other than to question how something like this happened.

2. Akron 88, Ohio 81 (OT)

The battle for the top of the MAC did not disappoint. The Zips extended their winning streak to 19 games and have now beaten Ohio, the next best team in that conference, twice. Demetrius Treadwell and Zeke Marshall led the way for Akron.

3. USC 89, No. 11 Arizona 78

Arizona’s defense continues to stick out as likely its biggest threat to hopes of a Pac-12 title and a run in the NCAA tournament. USC shot 61 percent from the floor, despite coming into the game ranked 212th in the nation in field goal percentage. This should be another wakeup call for the Wildcats and a realization about the limits of their growth potential if they don’t improve defensively.


1. Otto Porter, Georgetown (22 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists)

The do-it-all forward was at it again Wednesday, giving an encore to the huge performance he put on Saturday against Syracuse. He had a hand in Georgetown’s final three possessions, scoring five points in that span and dishing out an assist. His layup with under 0:10 to play put the Hoyas ahead for good.

2. Doug McDermott, Creighton (32 points, 12-of-17 FG, 11 rebounds)

McDermott has had some un-McDermott-like performances spread out over the past few weeks, but he came back in a big way Wednesday against Bradley. Creighton is now tied atop the Missouri Valley race with Wichita State.

3. Eric Wise, USC (22 points, 9-of-12 FG, 5 rebounds)

Wise was one of five Trojans in double figures for a USC Wednesday night that simply broke Arizona down. The Wildcats continue to sturggle on the defensive end and Wise led an attack that shot 61 percent from the floor in a win.


1. Trey Burke, Michigan (6 turnovers in loss to Penn State)

Burke came into Wednesday ranked third in the country with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.6. Against Penn State, he finished with six assists and six turnovers. Yes, he still scored 18 points but two of his six turnovers came at key points. One came with the game tied at 74 with 4:23 to play, and another with Michigan down three with 1:47 remaining.

2. Arizona’s Defense (61% FG Defense, 60% 3pt FG Defense)

There has been a trend emerging in Arizona’s losses. The Wildcats are continually unable to keep teams from shooting a high percentage. In their five Pac-12 losses, coach Sean Miller’s team has not been able to hold anyone below 48 percent shooting. That certainly does not bode well for March.

3. Carl Jones, St. Joseph’s (2 points, 1-of-9 FG, 3 TOs)

St. Joe’s has not has not had the type of season it might have expected to have coming into the season, and a loss Wednesday to Saint Louis adds to that. Jones struggled from the floor in the 17-point loss.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

No. 11 Arizona’s defense is cause for concern again in loss to USC

Sean Miller

No. 11 Arizona allowed USC to shoot an astounding 61 percent from the floor in an 89-78 loss at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, Calif., Wednesday night.

The Trojans, who came into the game ranked 212th in the country in field goal percentage at just over 42 percent, had five players in double figures, led by Eric Wise’s 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting. One bad night defensively wouldn’t make this a primary concern, expect for the fact that we’re seeing a trend emerge.

Arizona has lost five games in Pac-12 play and in those games, no opponent has shot less than 48 percent from the floor. Feb. 14 against Colorado, the Buffaloes shot 50 percent. Feb. 10 against Cal, the Bears shot 59 percent. UCLA shot 49 percent in its win over Arizona on Jan. 24. Oregon shot 48 percent in its victory Jan. 10.

If Arizona wants to win in the Pac-12 tournament and more importantly in the NCAA tournament, the defense on the perimeter needs to be tighter and defenders need to get out to shooters at the three-point line. Wednesday, they allowed an average three-point shooting team hit 6-of-10 from behind the arc.

Against elite shooting teams like Indiana, Duke, and Michigan, how will the Wildcats fare? The simple answer: not well.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_