We’re so close. With the season right around the corner, fans can almost taste it.
Luckily we’ll get an amuse bouche this Saturday when the first glimpse of the Cats will be revealed for the annual Red-Blue Game. What should the Wildcat faithful be looking for this weekend? Here are five burning questions heading into the Red-Blue Game, otherwise known as Christmas in October.
1. Does Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have a jumpshot? Last year Hollis-Jefferson had a brilliant freshman season, proving to be a dynamic, athletic force with the ball. He was fierce attacking the rim, and had the look of a player who could blossom into a star.
But his one Achilles’ heel is and always has been the ability to shoot the ball with distance. It allows defenders to sag off, thereby limiting Hollis-Jefferson’s greatest strength of attacking the rim.
So will RHJ be improved enough to keep defenses honest? That might be the biggest question of the year, and one of the factors in whether the Wildcats can put together a National Championship run.
2. Who will start at shooting guard? While the other four starting positions have clear front runners, the competition at shooting guard is a bit more fierce.
Will it be Gabe York, the junior with the sweet three point shot? Or will it be Stanley Johnson, the freshman phenom who will likely be playing NBA preseason games this time next year? Or could it be Kadeem Allen, the mysterious junior college transfer who just happened to be his league’s player of the year?
No matter who earns the spot, it’s clear that Arizona has a variety of options at shooting guard and can frustrate opponents with different looks.
3. Will Kaleb Tarczewski finally get the ball? Miller hinted at it in the media day press conference, but Tarczewski has been criminally underused in his time at Arizona. Seven footers need to get the ball, and though you can’t argue with the results, Zeus deserved more looks.
Could this be the year we see Tarczewski truly dominate the interior? While he’s always been a great rebounder, Tarczewski has actually expanded his game outside the paint and can now shoot the midrange shot. This added dimension to his game is a good sign for a potentially expanded offensive role.
4. Who will be Arizona’s go to scorer? Arizona hasn’t had a truly dominant, go to scorer since Derrick Williams. And frankly, they haven’t needed one.
But there will be games when the Wildcats will have to manufacture points in crunch time. Which player will carry that burden?
Last year it was Nick Johnson. Brandon Ashley seems like a natural fit with his diverse offensive game, but he’ll be rusty to start the year after missing the end of last season. Could it be McConnell, the maestro behind the offense who carrier the Cats in the clutch? Only time will tell.
5. Where will Arizona’s three point shooting come from? This is perhaps the biggest question that comes up about the 2014-15 Wildcats. They are talented at every position, they have great height and strength, and excellent guards. But can they make defenses respect the three point line?
It’s a legitimate question, but one that shouldn’t worry Wildcat fans. Arizona has capable three point shooters, they just aren’t proven yet.
York and Ashley have already shown it on the court, and McConnell surely passed up some attempts last year to facilitate the offense. Johnson could also play a role as a long range shooter, as could reserve Elliott Pitts.