Welp, after two ugly, ugly exhibition games that saw the Arizona Wildcats go 1-1, this one's for real. The Valparaiso Crusaders roll into McKale Center for a 7 p.m. tip tonight, and how this one will go is really up in the air
The No. 16 Wildcats might be called the favorites, but their preseason showings didn't put a lot of faith into anyone, from head coach Sean Miller to the fans, that this'll be anything but a dog fight. There's no go-to guy, struggles to play defense on the perimeter and a bevvy of rotational questions at hand.
What's the rotation looking like for Miller's crew? Here's Bruce Pascoe's projected starters, which should be the same as the two exhibition contests.
- As far as the bench minutes being dolled out, expect to see a lot of Nick Johnson, Jordin Mayes and Angelo Chol. Should the Wildcats go small, I'd expect Brendon Lavender to see some time as well. The Crusader's play with a pretty small starting line-up and only have nine available players, so expect Miller to really emphasize pushing the tempo.
- Chol will likely play in place of Sidiki Johnson at the 5 spot, who from this perspective appears to be far and away the freshman with the most work to do.
There are a number of issues that will pop up once again.
- Valpo has a full roster of straight-shooters, and nobody should worry about UA's Kyle Fogg locking down. But Mayes, who's still getting back into shape following a foot surgery, and starting point guard Josiah Turner, who has showed some effort on the defensive end but not necessarily results, will have to be on their game for the Wildcats to keep the Crusader guards in check.
- It's not just playing out on the perimeter, but also the guards and wings getting help if they're beaten off the dribble. The centers and power forwards haven't been the best at bailing out perimeter blow-bys so that'll be something to watch, too.
And from Valpo's end of things, it'll be the debut of head coach Bryce Drew. Yeah, that Bryce Drew.