With Arizona coming to town this weekend, Go Joe Bruin asked Zona Zealots expert, Shareen Rayan, five questions about UCLA Basketball vs. Arizona.
Go Joe Bruin: Arizona is in a similar situation as the UCLA Basketball team as they have a few key freshman leading the charge. Is there any concern about lack of veteran leadership or are the Wildcats doing just fine where they are at?
Zona Zealots: The leadership isn’t a concern at all, Kadeem Allen was declared by Sean Miller at the Pac-12 Media Day to be his leader and he has been just that. Not only by his words, but he has taken the team on his shoulders at times and gets momentum going, so he leads by his actions as well. The freshmen came in already friends, they spend a lot of free time together and enjoy each other. They pledged to come to Arizona to bring Miller a championship.
Article continues below ...
GJB: Once again we are in a season where Arizona and UCLA are at the top of the standings, how important is it for Arizona to get a win at Pauley Pavilion?
ZZ: UCLA Has been ranked far above Arizona mostly this season, higher than even Oregon. It seems no matter what they do and who they beat they go up by one slot at a time, probably because they are not a deep team and may be one injury away from struggling. Beating a top rated in conference team like UCLA will be HUGE! Is that why UCLA did not sell or set aside any tickets for Arizona Alumni? (Yes we are not very happy about that…what the heck?)
GJB: Is Sean Miller still bitter about losing TJ leaf and will it show in this game or has he moved on?
ZZ: Sean Miller is past TJ Leaf, he moves on as you can tell. Only having seven scholarship players at one time, he has no time to worry about who has jilted him, he is totally focused on what admires and wants to learn from him.
GJB: UCLA is defined by their up-tempo offense and not much defense. Can Arizona keep up with the Bruin offense? Will they exploit their defense?
ZZ: The Wildcats are getting better and better at defending the three. That said, I don’t know if they still cannot defend Bryce’s threes. The team will be pretty much rested, but may run out of steam because of their shallow bench. Arizona’s defense has improved in each game, and they are flashing zone defenses and other defenses we are not used to seeing from the Miller’s Cats in the last several years. We hope they don’t get tired.
GJB: I expect this to be a very close game, in your opinion, what does Arizona need to do to pull out the win?
ZZ: The team needs to play team ball and not fall into playing me ball. If they share the ball and Lauri and Dusan use their height advantage, Rawle and Kobi their hops, and Kadeem keeping everyone cool under pressure, I agree this will be a great game, maybe if it is close, it will be at the end. If we could just get Allonzo Trier back in the line-up, the Cats would be deeper but we never ever know until game time that he will be cleared to play. If UCLA would have allowed the Alumni to have seats, the fans could have more of a voice too, that always helps.