The initial excitement surrounding the Arizona Wildcats men's basketball team has been tempered as of late. Not due to any extended losing streak, but more to losing the games that they are projected to lose. Not winning the 'big' games against Kansas and BYU. A closer look reveals issues with inconsistent play, foul trouble for Derrick Williams, and a weakness against zone defense. Watch any recent Wildcats basketball game, and you'll likely hear the commentators mention all of these issues. It is beginning to seem eerily reminiscent of the football team. "Good but not great."
A cursory look at the schedule would certainly lead one to agree. But go back to the Kansas game. That game wasn't a blow-out loss. It was a lot closer game than the final score indicated. And the main reason that Kansas won that game was the sudden lack of solid fundamentals by Arizona. Poor passing, poor shooting, and selfishness (I'm looking at you, Momo.) sunk the Wildcats in that game.
There is no silver lining to the BYU game. They flat out dominated the Wildcats. You won't hear me deny that. But my take on the Wildcats so far, is that they are a good team, that is in the process of becoming great. They are inconsistent because they are young, and learning as they go. I submit that this team will be a much better, consistent, and fundamentally sound team come NCAA tournament time.
Other teams may peak early, but Arizona is certainly looking like a team that will be getting a little better every week. Will there be losses? Of course. But have no fear, this team is headed in the right direction. Any time that you face the #6 team in the nation ear ly in the season, and beat yourself, you are in a good position. Sounds crazy, right?
Wrong. Now the Wildcats can look back at that game all season, and tell themselves that they can be good enough to beat those teams, but they have to work hard for it. It won't come easy, and the coaches will remind them of that at every practice and warm up. Hopefully, the losses to ranked teams will serve as tools to motivate an improving young squad, and lead to some upsets come tournament time.
Bear Down, Wildcats! Beat the Lumberjacks!