Between a football team that's gone awry only to have a tinge of hope in the past week, the NBA lockout and baseball becoming irrelevant by the day, the sports scene is running mighty dry.
Thank God (or gods or scheduling) that basketball season has arrived.
There's too much to ask about the Arizona Wildcats as they enter their first exhibition game, which has a 6:30 p.m. tip against Seattle Pacific tonight.
For one, nobody knows who'll lead as the replacements for Derrick Williams, nor for Iona transfer Momo Jones. Williams is waiting for the NBA to kick-start, and Jones just got cleared to play after getting a hardship waiver to not sit out a season.
Who's The Man? Kyle Fogg will be looked to as the clear leader. He's the hardest worker, the team's most-experienced player, and a lockdown defender at the two-guard spot.
There's too many storylines to list. But I've got an idea of what I'm most curious about. Here's a look at the obvious things we're going to find out from a likely stomping of Seattle Pacific, as well as a glimpse of some hidden themes that could allude to what this team will look like come season's end.1. There's a point guard battle on deck, but are we assuming too much?
Everyone wants to crown freshman phenom Josiah Turner as the starter. I could be wrong, but from hearing what Miller said after the Red-Blue scrimmage, in which Turner got burned by Mayes on defense, the hype is much too high behind the youngster.
I think Jordin Mayes could eventually win the job. It's a bit more complicated in that he's still behind in conditioning since recovering from a surgery over the summer, but I truly believe Miller's comments allude to the fact that Turner does have a learning curve to catch up on.
Not that it's anything against Turner, but especially on defense, I see Mayes having the advantage.
Plus, Mayes showed in spurts last season that he has a great feel for controlling the game as a floor general. That, especially in Miller's motion system, is a bigger deal than, says, Turner's natural talents in setting up his teammates.
Just a guess, and I could be wrong. Don't take it as Turner-hating, either. Rather, take it as me thinking Jordin Mayes is being sold short.
2. Who is the surprise?
Sure, we can talk about Nick Johnson being college-ready as a ball-player, more so than any other of his freshman class friends in Turner, Sidiki Johnson and Angelo Chol.
What we're really overlooking, however, are the veterans who could have a lasting impact in their final season at Arizona. Jesse Perry will likely play a lot of small forward, and his numbers are sure to jump. But what about Brendon Lavender, who hardly went home to Mesa this summer and in one shooting competition with Kevin Parrom hit 55 three-pointers IN A ROW?
He is athletic, plays defense, can play multiple positions and had some key moments in last season's NCAA tournament run. With a stacked backcourt, don't think Lavender won't make his mark by season's end.
3. What's the identity of this team? Big and physical, or small and speedy?
Just as he did last season, Miller will send substitutions in waves and likely go 10 players deep. Questions is, what will the identity of the squad become?
Miller's brilliance in recruiting lies in how the versatility of his roster and recruiting. This team has more pure talent in the backcourt, but also has the capabilities to play very, very big.
Let's see: to play small-ball and push the tempo like Miller would like, the Wildcats could go with a line-up of Turner, Mayes, Fogg, and Nick Johnson (even Lavender) filling three spots on the floor. Solomon Hill has the potential to play power forward as does Perry, and Sidiki Johnson or Kyryl Natyazhko could play in the frontcourt.
Or, the Wildcats could go big. Once Kevin Parrom returns, which could be as early as a few months from now, Arizona could have an NBA-sized team on the floor.
Turner, who's a physical 6-foot-3 would play point. Parrom, at 6-foot-6, is capable or playing two-guard, and Hill or even Perry could play the 3. Throw in Chol and Natyazhko, and you've got one of the biggest team's in the NCAA, and one not composed purely on size alone -- that line-up isn't made up of scrubs.
Miller could go either way.
Will he fiddle with his rotations, or find a consistent group of starters and bench players to keep it consistent? Likely the latter, but early on, it's possible he takes the time to figure that out himself.