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August 14, 2012

'Cats sweep Bahamas trip

The results were predictable as the Arizona men's basketball easily put away a pair of teams from the Bahamas in a three-day stretch culminating with a 99-57 win Monday over the Bahamas All-Stars in Nassau.

Unlike Rich Rodriguez and the football team, fourth-year head coach Sean Miller knows he has depth up and down the roster. Instead, the trip was more about integrating eight newcomers, as well as speeding up the recovery process for Kevin Parrom and Jordin Mayes - both of whom battled through a taxing 2011-12 season, both physically and emotionally.

"The highlights of the trip, to me, are the two players (Parrom and Mayes) that I thought this trip could really benefit," Miller told Arizona Athletics after the victory. "They combine experience and the know-how, but because they were both injured so much a year ago and missed so much time, they worked very hard this spring and summer and used this trip, to me, to get both feet on the ground."

While the box scores mean close to nothing against lesser opponents, it's hard to ignore the contributions from both players.

In 20.5 minutes per game, Parrom averaged 18.5 points - including a game-high 21 in a 70-point win over the Real Deal Shockers on Saturday - and made a combined 13 of 20 shots (65 percent) from the field. In the final game, the versatile 6-6 senior showcased his all-around game with seven rebounds and five assists.

Meanwhile, Mayes showed some flashes of finding that balance between scoring and distributing in the opening contest. The combo guard made 3 of 4 shots, finishing with eight points and adding five assists.

Miller also stayed true to his word, saying before the trip that the number of capable contributors could force him into experimenting with new lineups all throughout the season. Only Parrom started both games, as expected starters Solomon Hill and Xavier transfer Mark Lyons both came off the bench in the first contest.

While Lyons wants to focus more on becoming a point guard after spending most of his career off the ball, the 6-1 guard wasted little time showing that the Wildcats now also have the go-to scorer that the team appeared to be missing last season. Lyons tied Parrom in points while making 13 of 19 attempts (68 percent), including identical 4-of-6 performances from 3-point range in each contest.

Then, of course, there is the No. 3-ranked incoming freshman class. Miller gave all four except Gabe York one start on the trip.

The biggest change from last season is that the 'Cats now have size - and it showed. UA dominated the glass, averaging 57.5 rebounds per contest and were plus-40 on the glass. The 6-8-and-taller trio of Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski combined to average 23 rebounds per game - or 40 percent of the production.

In addition, Ashley collected a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double in the opener, and made 5 of 6 shots en route to 12 points in the second game.

"We played well as a team, showed we have a lot of potential," said the 230-pound Tarczewski, who told the school website that he's added 30 pounds since joining the program.

The only player to not join the team for the trip was Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell, who must sit out the 2012-13 season, per NCAA rules, but will be eligible to practice with the team this year.

The team will return to Tucson today.

Tracy McDannaldTracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor

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