Johnson among Pac-12’s top performers - The Explorer: Sports

Johnson among Pac-12’s top performers

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Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 4:00 am

Ask five different people who they think the most valuable player for third-ranked Arizona has been for the first half of the season and you are bound to get a mixed bag of answers.

Mark Lyons has been the team’s go-to player, as evidenced by his drives to the basket in the closing seconds of the wins over Florida and San Diego State. Kevin Parrom has been invaluable off the bench, giving head coach Sean Miller an option to throw in at the top of the key when teams decide to play zone. Solomon Hill, the unquestioned leader, played his best game of the season against the Aztecs and earned MVP honors at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii.

While all three seniors mentioned have been important, no player has been more consistent as sophomore Nick Johnson.

The 6-foot, 3-inch guard came into the season with a fair share of pressure but not quite the burden of a star. Many wondered whether his disappearing act for most of the second half of last season would carry over into 2012-13.

On top of that was the number of similar players waiting in the wings for a bigger role in the playing rotation. So far, Miller has found it difficult to find minutes for Jordin Mayes and Gabe York.

Johnson’s 29.3 minutes per game is second on the team only to Hill’s 30.3.

Not only has he silenced any doubters, but Johnson has arguably been the best player in the entire Pac-12 Conference. Through 12 games, the Gilbert, Ariz., native is averaging 12.7 points (tied for second on the team) while shooting 49.5 percent from the field to go with a team-high 28 steals.

There have been better scorers, higher assist totals and more accurate shooters. But not many have put it all together and been as much of an X-factor in overall team success.

What may hurt him when people think about the best players in the league is the depth on his own team. Not a single Wildcat has been tabbed the conference player of the week, to this point. But Johnson said coming into the season that the players alongside him would make enough of a difference in how much easier the game comes to him this year.

No kidding.

With Lyons handling the ball most of the time, Johnson has been able to spend his energy elsewhere. Both Miller and Johnson said last season that something as simple as bringing the ball up the floor against a press can take its toll.

Now, Johnson has emerged as the team’s lockdown defender, which also has helped earn easier opportunities in transition.

The difference this year is Johnson has that year of experience and struggles to learn from and improve upon. 

Again, however, this is only the first half of the season. Now, Johnson finds himself at the same spot he was in last year. While his play was not as impactful to this degree, the same positive feelings are there.

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Tuesday, September 16

Boys Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Buena, Cienega at Marana

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge, Catalina at Amphi (Silverbell GC)

Catalina Foothills, Pueblo, Sahuarita at Sahuaro

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Mountain View at Rio Rico

Ironwood Ridge at Glendale Ironwood

Swimming (@4 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge, Sahuarita at Desert Christian

Wednesday, September 17

Girls Golf (@ 3 p.m.)

Rincon at CDO

Ironwood Ridge, Desert View at Flowing Wells (Silverbell)

Cross Country (@4:30)

Salpointe at Catalina Foothills

Palo Verde, Nogales at Marana

Rincon, St. Gregory at CDO

Sahuarita, Pueblo, Pusch Ridge at Desert View

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Empire at Marana (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

CDO at Queen Creek

Cienega at Mountain View

Sahuaro at Catalina Foothills

Walden Grove at Pusch Ridge

Thursday, September 18

Girls Golf

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Boys Golf

Sahuaro and Salpointe at Ironwood Ridge

CDO, Rincon, Sunnyside at Tucson High

Girls Volleyball (Fr 4 p.m., JV 5 p.m., Var 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Marana at Sahuarita

Ironwood Ridge at Sahuaro (4:30, 5:30, 6:30)

Catalina Foothills at Rincon

Pusch Ridge at San Manuel

Swimming (4 p.m.)

Marana vs. Tucson at Quincy Douglas Pool

Cienega at Marana

CDO, Ironwood Ridge at Amphi

Catalina Foothills at Sahuaro

Freshman Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Flowing Wells at Marana (4 p.m.)

Desert View at Mountain View

Cienega at CDO

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

JV Football (all games at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted)

Amphi at Marana

Santa Cruz Valley at Pusch Ridge

Mountain View at Desert View

CDO at Cienega

Buena at Ironwood Ridge

Sahuarita at Catalina Foothills

Friday, September 19

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Mountain View, Ironwood Ridge at Mt. Carmel Invitational (San Diego, CA)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

Football (@7 p.m.)

Pusch Ridge at Santa Cruz Valley

Catalina at Marana

Desert Vista at Mountain View

Ironwood Ridge at Buena

Cienega at CDO

Catalina Foothills at Sahuarita

Saturday, September 20

Boys Golf

Catalina Foothills, Ironwood Ridge, CDO, at Phoenix Aguila Invitational (all day)

Cross Country

Marana at Old Pueblo Invite(Lincoln Park)

Mountain View at San Diego

Catalina Foothills, CDO at Ojo Rojo (Chandler, AZ)

Swimming

Marana at Wolves Classic (Chandler High)

Girls Volleyball

CDO at Westwood Tournament of Champions

 

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