Arizona basketball's question-Mark is about continuity

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 08: Mark Lyons #10 of the Xavier Musketeers shoots the ball during the game against the Rhode Island Rams at Cintas Center on February 8, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The roster is a lock, and Mark Lyons' commitment to Arizona yesterday solidified Sean Miller's options when the depth chart begins to develop for next basketball season.

Now begins the time where we ask ourselves why this team will be successful next year where it wasn't this past one, and the senior point guard transfer in his own right will be a person of interest as Miller develops an Arizona Wildcats team that won't look much at all like that squad of a year ago.

The brief stay of Lyons in an Arizona uniform, in a way, represents the issues this Wildcats team as a whole will face this year. The 6-foot-1 point guard will be slung into a starting role his one and only season with chemistry and continuity being the key to the season.

First, a bit on Lyons.

As Eamonn Brennan of ESPN wrote today and like I discussed when Lyons announced he was transferring from Xavier, question marks are aplenty, especially considering what Musketeers' coach Chris Mack said when the school announced Lyons was leaving.

"After our end of the season meeting with Mark it became apparent that a change for both parties was the right thing moving forward," said Mack. "During our meeting expectations were outlined for his fifth and final season, areas in which I believe needed improvement. Mark did not recognize these expectations as being important and ultimately it was decided that a change of scenery would be in his best interest. I wish Mark well."

Will this be another Josiah Turner-esque case of a player putting himself ahead of his team?

Lyons' comments in Bruce Pascoe's Monday story were more promising. Maybe Lyons won't be a cancer on or off the court. He wants an opportunity to play point guard and win games, he said, and he even reached out to fellow A-10 Conference transfer TJ McConnell to talk about playing with him in practice as McConnell sits out this upcoming season.

That's a good sign.

But at the most crucial position in the game of basketball, handing the keys to the car over to a newcomer presents risks even if Lyons is a perfect teammate.

That's because of how many moving parts the team underwent during this wild offseason.

For sure, Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom, Jordin Mayes and Nick Johnson will be the key players that return to similar roles, but with so many newcomers, how will this team develop?

After an Elite Eight run showed how well Miller's squads can come together over the course of the season, last year's NIT appearance was maybe a symptom of off-the-court issues on top of an obvious lack of talent. In fact, it's fair to say the Wildcats digressed at certain points in the year, always taking a step forward followed by two steps back.

The positives as we look ahead? The Wildcats will finally have size with Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley, Angelo Chol and Kaleb Tarczewski all looking to contribute. The roster has appeared to shed itself of players not committed to Miller's ways. And guys like Hill and Parrom enter their fourth seasons under the Miller regime, and Parrom and Mayes have the offseason to get healthy.

The main negatives going into the 2012-13 season then lies in how the old meshes with all the new.

But maybe a fresh roster make-up is just what Arizona needed.

Maybe continuity isn't as important as putting a new patchwork of like-minded pieces together to develop by the Pac-12 Tournament. And more than likely, that is the better option to spark a deep NCAA Tournament appearance than the other option -- a squad that is returning with the roster that we'd thought we'd see as of a year ago.

A guess of a depth chart

PG: Lyons, Mayes

SG: Johnson, York

SF: Hill, Parrom

PF: Ashley, Jerrett

C: Chol, Tarczewski

Who do you think will start Arizona's first game of next season?

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