Prior to the season, I wrote this article posing several questions for this year’s iteration of our Wildcats. Seven games into the season, Arizona is 6-1. Let’s revisit the questions and see what we’ve learned thus far.
Who will run the point?
Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright have split minutes at the point guard position. Allen started games and averages 21 minutes while PJC averages 23.6 minutes. Both have had up and down moments. Allen had his best game of the season Sunday against Boise State. Coach Miller said it isn’t an either-or situation, expect to see the two play together more as the season progresses.
How will Miller put together new pieces?
This was the most interesting question heading into the season, and has been a work in progress so far. With six new faces and injuries to seven players, it has been tough to manage lineups and develop continuity. What would have been a challenge even with a healthy roster has been more difficult as Elliott Pitts, Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski missed games. Hopefully, moving forward the team doesn’t suffer any more injuries and can get comfortable with different lineups in practice which will translate into games.
Will Arizona continue to struggle against zone defenses?
Arizona as a team is shooting 28% from three, which is 8% worse than last year and if the number holds up would be the worst in 20+ years. Right now the players aren’t comfortable attacking the zone, finding gaps and openings. With a team of skilled capable shooters, their three point shooting percentage should go up.
Who will be the leader?
Ryan Anderson has been Arizona’s most dependable player and plays each game with great emotion. Anderson has been a bear down low, dominating the glass. Even though Kaleb Tarczewski has missed the last two games with a left ankle sprain, he was very vocal on the bench against Providence and Boise State and could be seen giving words of encouragement to his teammates during timeouts. Arizona doesn’t have a clear leader like TJ McConnell last year, but Anderson and Tarczewski have done a good job stepping up.
Will Miller use his bench more and go 10(+) deep?
Miller has mainly used a nine-man rotation with Justin Simon and Chance Comanche getting spot minutes. The top nine players are averaging between 15 to 30 minutes a game. After the win against Santa Clara, Miller said he might shrink the rotation when the reserves gave up a 17 point lead late in the first half. I would like to see Miller continue going deep into his bench, the key is to find the right mix of players and making sure whoever is in the game plays with max effort and intensity.
While it is disappointing to Arizona fans that the Wildcats did not play Michigan State in the final of the DirecTV Wooden Legacy Tournament, Kaleb Tarczewski’s injury was a huge reason Arizona fell to Providence. It was recently announced that Tarczewski will be out 4-6 weeks with a stress reaction and strained muscle in his left foot. That is a huge blow to Arizona. Tarczewski is an anchor in the middle, his stats aren’t eye-catching but he is a smart player and very mobile for his size. He has the ability to show and recover on pick and rolls on the perimeter; his mere presence down low is a factor. Dusan Ristic and Chance Comanche will now get the opportunity to play more minutes and gain experience which will benefit the Wildcats down the road.
This year’s team has veteran players, but is young in terms of playing together and under Miller’s direction. Miller is wise to be patient and let the players play through mistakes. The Wildcats are still learning, growing and improving. What we see now shouldn’t be an indication of what’s to come in January and March.
I was curious to see how the team would respond to losing against Providence, and was encouraged with the Wildcats turnaround effort and energy Sunday against Boise State. Once Miller settles on a rotation and roles are defined, the players will adapt and execute better. The margin of error is slimmer than previous years, but considering injuries and amount of new players with significant roles, the team is where it should be and trending up.
What shoes will Allonzo Trier wear?
Here’s a list of the shoes Trier has worn this season:
Red Blue Scrimmage – LeBron VIII v2 Low Solar Red
Chico State – LeBron XIII Opening Night (first half), Kobe VI 3D (second half)
Pacific – LeBron XIII Horror Flick
Bradley – Kobe 2 Prelude
Boise State – LeBron XI What The
Northwestern State – LeBron VIII v2 Low Sprite
Santa Clara – Kobe V Photo Blue (with white laces)
Providence – KD VI DC Preheat
Boise State – Kobe 8 Christmas