Cats have a big plan in store for Rice game

2009-11-18T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T09:27:54Z Cats have a big plan in store for Rice game Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 18, 2009 12:00 am  • 

ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Arizona coach Sean Miller is ready to shake up his playing rotation again, and he may not be done for a while.

Gone is freshman wing Kevin Parrom because of a foot stress fracture that will keep him out for at least a month, necessitating more help at small forward.

In for more time is freshman Solomon Hill, who is making a move to start on the wing. Also likely to be seen Thursday, when the UA hosts Rice, is a big post combination of Derrick Williams and Kyryl Natyazhko.

Miller said he was unsure of his starting lineup for Thursday, noting that a change would not necessarily mean anyone played himself out of a job.

"I think you're going to find we potentially could have a number of different starting lineups early until we get solid," Miller said, adding immediately: "Solomon Hill is obviously coming on. He's not only played well in games, but he's becoming a better practice player. He has a great attitude and does a lot of different things with his size."

Hill, a 6-foot-6-inch wing from Los Angeles who dropped 20 pounds after arriving in Tucson last summer, led the Wildcats in scoring in the UA's season opener Sunday against NAU with 17 points, while adding eight rebounds and two assists.

Starting or coming in, Hill said he believes he will help the UA compensate for the loss of Parrom, who brought versatility, shooting and toughness to the rotation.

"If you're playing defense, you want to go 100 percent, and he brought another body," Hill said. "We feel comfortable with Kevin out there."

Miller said Brendon Lavender, who started at small forward Sunday, and Jamelle Horne, the starting power forward, also can help.

"Injuries can sometimes derail your thinking," Miller said. "We're a much more flexible team with Kevin Parrom as part of the equation. Now that he's not with us, we'll have to adjust."

They can do so easier if Williams can grasp the power forward spot, playing alongside Natyazhko, and allowing Horne to play small forward at times.

It's a scenario Miller talked about often in the preseason, though he was reluctant to force the issue because he wanted Williams to firmly learn defense at center first.

"It's hard for freshmen to grasp everything," Miller said. "It's like getting to first base before you get to second, and part of our defensive breakdowns the other night stemmed from the lack of experience in so many instances. And to give that player who's not executing the simplest things a second position. … But Derrick's doing a terrific job, make no mistake."

If Williams plays some at power forward, that might also open up a few minutes at center for sophomore Alex Jacobson. Miller was kicking himself Tuesday for not playing Jacobson, saying he needs to develop more depth there, too.

"It was really my fault for not playing him," Miller said. "Getting him in there is the plan. Why he didn't play was nothing he did. He has to continue to work to develop. Just getting a team of nine and 10 who can get in, night in and night out, allows us to be the most consistent."

Miller said he also wanted sophomore Kyle Fogg to embrace a role as the team's defensive stopper. Fogg started 27 of 35 games last season at shooting guard.

He needs "to not be the guy who says it's OK if my guy scores on me," Miller said. "Every team needs that guy that just has more talent on the defensive end, and the mentality that he's willing to guard the other team's best defender. Kyle's a strong candidate for that. His teammates believe in him, and his improvement will make our team better. Kyle has a great attitude, and I have no doubt he'll keep getting better."

On StarNet: Follow the Cats on Bruce Pascoe's blog at go.azstarnet.com/pascoe

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