Arizona Basketball: State of The Union Address to Wildcats Fans

Ralph Freso

Things have gotten dicey in recent weeks in light of the injury to Brandon Ashley, but fear not, there's no need to jump off the ledge.

Everybody just calm down for a moment. Take a deep breath...better? RELAX.

Losing to the Sun Devils can drive the fanbase crazy and send all rationale out the window. Reality is it was an ugly performance on Friday night and showed some things Arizona must improve on in the last month, but not all is lost. Nick Johnson has shot 6-for-34 in Arizona's two losses thus far, SIX FOR THIRTY FOUR and Arizona could have won both games. Sure, things are not perfect with Arizona's offense right now and it is frustrating seeing the bench resort to what it has become. But it's been four games.

Does anyone question the quality of coach Sean Miller is? Do you truly believe he's incapable of figuring things out with the talent he has on this roster? Those who watched enough last year will recall a similar rough patch at times in Pac-12 play, none moreso than a weekend sweep at the SoCal schools where things hit rock bottom in a loss to USC when the Trojans scored 89 points. That Arizona team had plenty of question marks and was over-reliant on the three ball for portions of the season. When things came down to it, Arizona played some of its best ball all year in the Pac-12 tournament and then in the NCAAs.

In fact, go back to Sean Miller's days at Xavier where he took the Musketeers to a Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight, a feat he's matched in his first four years in Tucson. Sean Miller-coached teams simply are ready to go in March and this Wildcats team is in my opinion as good as any he's had during his tenure with the Wildcats. The work Arizona did in the non-conference schedule gives the team room for error down the stretch as it chases a one seed and realistically would have to tank to fall below a two seed. Look at the resumes' of the teams most have on the three line or four line and compare it to Arizona's. The Wildcats have a significant edge on many of them.

There's no 2012 Kentucky in this year's field. The country has no true juggernaut that is simply infinitely more talented than everyone else. Look at what the #1 team in America has had to do in recent weeks to survive and stay undefeated. It survived a Duke team at home Arizona dominated in the second half. The Orange needed a 35 foot heave to beat Pittsburgh. It just dodged a bullet vs NC State. Michigan State has been given an injury pass for weeks yet took another questionable loss today. Kansas has taken six losses already. Wichita State struggled for large portions of the game with Tennessee and Alabama.

I understand the frustrations from everyone given what the potential for this team was and it feels like it was taken away a bit. However what team's fanbase shouldn't have any concerns about their team at this moment? Everyone has shown flaws that could derail their title chances come March and I think the fact Arizona has lost two games to teams most feel the Wildcats are clearly superior to has only sparked those cries of anger more. Better Arizona teams have lost to worse PAC-12 opponents in the past. With the format of league play and traveling on the road for two games at times, it's very difficult to go unbeaten. How many games SHOULD Arizona have lost by now? Two doesn't seem like an unreasonable number.

The Wildcats will need a boost from some guys unquestionably. Gabe York cannot go 0-6 off the bench. There's not many things York is expected to do when he's on the floor. He's never running the offense for the most part. He's not considered a strong defender asked to guard the opposition's best guard. He's not a great rebounding guard. He literally has one role, come off the bench and provide perimter shooting. If he's not doing that, what's he bringing?

Aaron Gordan and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have to be consistent offensive production. The Wildcats don't need both every night but usually will need at least one. The defense's ability to just sag off the both of them is killing Arizona's ability to score inside and gives Nick Johnson and T.J McConnell no help on screens because team's don't fear either of those guys flashing for a jump shot. Can either find find a rhythm and become a night in and night out offensive threat>

The short of all this, don't overreact my fellow Beardown brethren. The sky is not falling. Arizona's season is not a lost cause. The Wildcats aren't primed to be the first 16 over 1 upset victim. Sean Miller will get this team peaking around March and the Wildcats will be a tough out in the tournament. I'm almost certain of it. Things could be worse. We could be chasing our first trip past the first weekend in nearly 20 years.

If I'm wrong, well there's always the 1997 VHS tapes.

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