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Arizona basketball: Hill, Lyons make Pac-12 1st team; others snubbed

2013-03-12T00:00:00Z 2013-09-10T16:35:15Z Arizona basketball: Hill, Lyons make Pac-12 1st team; others snubbedBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The Pac-12 postseason awards released Monday mirrored the 2012-13 Arizona Wildcats.

There were some expected highlights (Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons made the 10-man first team), a disappointment (none of UA's three high school all-American post players made the all-freshman team) and a possible casualty of UA's late-season defensive slide (Nick Johnson did not make the all-defensive team).

No huge victories, no terribly bad things. Just like the Wildcats' 12-6 conference season.

The season was good enough, Hill found, to push him into a repeat spot on the all-conference team.

"(It) just showed my hard work was noticed, and it also comes with team success," Hill said. "I think if our team wasn't in the top half of the conference, I wouldn't have this award."

The same might go for point guard Lyons, who upgraded from being a third-team all-Atlantic 10 pick last season to a first-team all-Pac-12 pick this season.

"Feels good," Lyons said. "I get to play my natural position. It's a blessing in disguise to be here. I'm back with my original coach, and it's just been great. The season's been great."

Meanwhile, the Wildcats' key omissions also were no surprise, considering how the season played out. Johnson, according to UA coach Sean Miller, may have been kept off the all-defensive team because of the Wildcats' late-season defensive struggles, after Johnson made a name for himself defensively through January.

"You get grouped into that when things don't go well, so I'm sure that hurt him," Miller said. "He could have been on it very easily."

UA center Kaleb Tarczewski was named honorable mention all-freshman, but the 7-footer did not make the five-man team in a league that is improved in part because of a strong freshman class.

Tarczewski finished the season well, averaging nine points and eight rebounds in his final five games, but it wasn't enough to join all-freshman picks Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson of UCLA, Jahii Carson of ASU, Damyean Dotson of Oregon, and Josh Scott of Colorado.

"That all-freshmen team is really, really talented," Miller said. "I wouldn't look at the fact that our freshmen didn't make it as a negative as much as if you just look at each one of them."

Miller said Tarczewski has steadily improved, playing one of the best games of the season against ASU in the regular-season finale, in a conference with plenty of skilled big men.

"It's well-documented that the strength of our conference is the frontlines across the board," Miller said. "You pick a team and you're going to see big, physical players who are older."

Self-focused

Since they won't know their Thursday opponent in the Pac-12 Tournament until late Wednesday afternoon, the Wildcats are spending most of the week focusing on themselves.

Miller said they would add some preparation for both Colorado and Oregon State, who play a first-round game Wednesday for the right to face Arizona, which remained 18th in the Top 25 poll on Monday. But Oregon State's win at Colorado on Saturday underscored the uncertainty of who will win Wednesday, especially with Buffs forward Andre Roberson still questionable with a viral illness.

"It's just about us working hard and playing really hard in practice," Miller said. "We'll deal with both teams a little bit. But the scouting element is overrated at this time of the year because both teams know each other so well.

"If you look at Colorado or Oregon State, they're not going to even have one day to prepare for either of us. So that's not going to be a factor."

Extra time

In the past, Arizona players have had spring break during the hectic first week of NCAA tournament play, but the late basketball calendar this season means the players are off now before the Pac-12 Tournament.

"This is a great opportunity for guys to get in the gym and really fine-tune things before the tournaments," Hill said. "We can rest up, get treatment if we need to. This is great."

Although the Wildcats have been offered a chance to practice at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Wednesday morning, they are scheduled to practice at UA through Wednesday afternoon and then fly to Las Vegas. That schedule mirrors their routine before a Thursday road game in the Pac-12 season.

Up Next

• What: Pac-12 tournament

• Who: Arizona vs. Colo./Ore. State

• Where: Las Vegas

• When: 2:30 p.m. Thursday

• TV: Pac-12 Networks

Contact reporter Bruce Pascoe at bpascoe@azstarnet.com or 573-4145. On Twitter @BrucePascoe.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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