Solomon Hill has seen it all in his four years at the University of Arizona.
From the high of reaching the ‘Elite Eight’ in 2011 to the lows of missing March Madness all together the year before and after the Wildcats 30-win season under then second-year head coach Sean Miller.
Saturday afternoon the versatile 6’6 senior will step on the floor at McKale Center one last time in hopes of breaking an ugly two-game losing streak as in-state rival Arizona State invades Tucson.
“It’s about getting back to what we did in the first half of the season defensively,” Hill told Brad Cesmat Thursday on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “We don’t have that same swagger, that same commitment that we had before…we watched our dreams of winning the Pac-12 [regular season] championship slip away.”
In other words UofA (23-6, 11-6) needs some damage control and a little momentum heading into the Pac-12 tournament next week in Las Vegas. The ‘Cats once proud defense was shredded by USC and UCLA during the southern California road swing a week ago.
“It’s all about being consistent,” Hill explained to Cesmat. “Just because we have the Arizona name on our jersey doesn’t mean we’re going to go out and win every game. It’s a sign of respect that you show to everybody that came here…the alumni, the fans…you’re going to play hard every time you hit the floor.”
Saturday afternoon the ‘Cats will see a team equally desperate for a win in ASU (20-10, 9-8) who were also swept by the SoCal schools and have lost three in a row and five of their last seven. Even after handling the Sun Devils 71-54 January 19th in Tempe, Hill realizes Herb Sendek’s team poses plenty of problems, starting with their likely Freshman All-American point guard.
“We can’t let Jahii Carson dictate the tempo of the game and be the aggressor,” Hill said. “He loves the pick-and-roll game. [If] we get [forwards] Carrick Felix and Jonathan Gilling uncomfortable I think we have a great opportunity to duplicate the same thing we did [in Tempe]. It’s easier said than done, but in front of our home crowd on [Senior Day] I think emotions will be high.”
Hill, who is second on the team in scoring (13.6) and tied for first in rebounding (5.3) said he still needs to improve defensively before taking aim at an NBA future. He hopes his versatility at both ends of the floor and work ethic on and off the court will make him an appealing draft prospect this summer. Many draft experts believe the Los Angeles native is an early second-round pick.
For now his focus is taking care of business against ASU and experiencing another deep run in the NCAA tournament before the curtain closes on his career in red and blue.