Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Building an identity based on defense takes time

Arizona's last three opponents have shot less than 40 percent from the field, a credit to the Cats' new emphasis on defense.

"That mental challenge of getting a team to say, 'OK, our identity is going to be on defense' takes a long time," said UA interim head coach Russ Pennell. "Sometimes, you don't get it in a season."

According to this article in the Tucson paper, after playing man-to-man early in the season, UA has unveiled "The Claw," a 1-1-3 zone defense devised by assistant coach and former Nuggets assistant Mike Dunlap, after refining it in practice.

"This has taken a very selfless attitude, because it takes all five guys to do it," Coach Pennell said. "It takes a lot of effort and energy, which allows everybody on the team to participate. Not everyone can score 20 points, but they can all play the 1-1-3. So instead of the traditional YMCA zone where you stand back with your hands up, we could be a lot more aggressive, which Mike was used to. It took a while to develop because it's kind of difficult to learn."