On Sunday, the Arizona Wildcats basketball team kicks-off its season against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. It's difficult not to keep expectations for this season high, especially with Sean Miller at the helm after a few years of uncertainty at the coaching position and one of college basketball's best recruiting classes. Here's a quick look at some of the things to watch for this season:
Leadership: No question about it, Nic Wise is it. The senior point guard, who is on a number of pre-season lists, including the Wooden Award list, leads a very inexperienced squad. Wise should put up big numbers this year and will no doubt need to step up big time to lead the team.
Improvement: In terms of improving, nobody needs to do that more than Jamelle Horne. He's had a good pre-season so far, but we'll see how he does when the actual games are played. Horne will need to be a monster on the boards and provide a consistent scoring punch to complement Wise.
Freshmen: With five freshmen on the team, it will be difficult not to set expectations too high. But there are some really talented players on this team. I anticipate Derrick Williams and Natyazhko to be the players that help Arizona the most. But forwards Kevin Parrom and Solomon Hill should get some major playing time, as will Lamont 'MoMo' Jones.
Depth: This area is key for the Wildcats this year. I think Kyle Fogg and Brendan Lavender will be playing major minutes this season, especially with all of the youth this year.
Question Marks: Biggest question marks for me are how well the freshmen can play on a consistent basis, especially since they make up a little less than half the team. Health is also a big factor because if Nic Wise gets hurt, this team could be in trouble.
Does Arizona Make the NCAA Tournament? It's the question that everybody is asking. In a weaker Pac-10 and with a typical Arizona schedule. I say...YES (but barely).