The dog days of summer are here and not much is happening in the world of college sports, aside from recruiting.
With that, we had you, our readers, submit questions about the Arizona Wildcats for us to answer and our responses are below.
Unfortunately, we were not able to answer all the questions we were asked, but we’ll have another mailbag relatively soon, so if you still have something you want answered, comment below or tweet us at @AZDesertSwarm.
How big of an impact is Lorenzo Romar expected to make on Arizona's offense (or lack thereof)?
I don’t think Romar’s presence will substantially change Arizona’s offense, but there is apparently one thing that he will be bringing — more ball screens.
Arizona commit Brandon Williams told ESPN that UA’s offense will feature more of them moving forward.
“They are starting to do a lot more ball screens, which fits my game,” he said.
I wrote more about that here if you want to read in-depth about that. Obviously the hope is that it would make Arizona’s halfcourt offense smoother and give UA’s guards more opportunities to create off the dribble.
Another change Romar could bring is changing Arizona’s pace. At Washington, Romar’s teams often played an uptempo style of basketball. Miller’s teams at Arizona generally slow things down.
But part of the reason that is true is because Miller’s defensive coaching scheme — the packline defense — limits UA’s transition opportunities, because forcing turnovers is not of high priority.
And I just don’t see Miller deviating too much from the staple of his coaching philosophy to speed up the offense. So Romar’s impact will most likely be seen in Arizona’s halfcourt offense (and recruiting, but that’s an entirely different story).
— Ryan Kelapire
Dax Trujillo asks....
How far can Adia Barnes elevate women’s basketball at Arizona?
I think Barnes can make UA women’s basketball a top five program in the Pac-12.
We can look at the Washington Huskies as a model. UW did not have a winning season for six years before Barnes arrived there as an assistant coach in 2011, but now have rattled off six straight 20-win seasons.
The Huskies hit on a few key recruits (Barnes was UW’s recruiting coordinator), developed them, and turned the program around, even reaching a Final Four.
Arizona has all the resources — if not more — to replicate what Washington did and Barnes has already shown she can recruit with the best of the best.
Arizona’s 2018 class already has two five-star forwards and two high-caliber transfers, which is unprecedented for this program.
The Wildcats will be young in 2017-18 and thus will probably struggle a fair amount, but starting in 2018-19, you’ll start to see some major progress being made.
— Ryan Kelapire
Any update on Chance Comanche?
Surprisingly, Comanche did not play in NBA Summer League, which is an ominous sign for his professional future. It did not give him a chance to receive an invite to NBA training camp and, probably most importantly, it prevented him from showcasing himself to international teams.
Nobody really expected Comanche to get drafted, but him not being on a Summer League roster was shocking, and there has been nothing to suggest that he has signed overseas or anything like that.
He probably will eventually, though. Someone will give him a...............Chance (pun completely intended).
— Ryan Kelapire
Sean Marchett asks......
What is the realistic timeline for Arizona to compete for the Pac-12 South? Has the new coaching staff improved the recruiting enough to be competitive?
Right now, I think there is a culture issue at Arizona and Samajie Grant said it best last season.
There are a lot of guys on this roster who do not love football, are not truly inspired to grind, and just want to live the student-athlete life.
With that being said, as well as the steep drop off over the last two years, I do think this is Rich Rodriguez’s last season in Tucson. It will be interesting to see who Dave Heeke can attract to come take over this rebuild phase. But in order to compete in the Pac-12 South, the culture needs to change. And whoever comes in next needs at least two years to get things under control and manage winning records.
Over the last few years, Arizona’s recruiting has gotten better when it comes to the caliber of programs they reach. A lot of these guys are coming from winning high school programs with great coaching staffs.
But there have been a ton of recruiting errors when it comes to character and we’ve slowly seen this roster decompose. There has also been a severe lack of player development over the last few years, too. Add that on top of all the injuries that are keeping some of Arizona’s best players away from the field, and the program isn’t in a good place.
These last two recruiting classes, 2016 and 2017, have a lot of good talent. During their recruiting pitch these recruits were told that they were going to be the ones to bring Arizona back to the Fiesta Bowl, and they’re inspired to do so.
Having Donté Williams certainly helped even if it was just one year. Vince Amey has stepped up in the Phoenix area and Jahmile Addae has been dominating Florida and Nevada. But the efforts in Texas and the Polynesian community come way too late to save this group.
It all starts with the tone at the top and there needs to be radical change under Heeke to get Arizona out of this hole. It just needs to be the right coaching staff that can motivate and develop this group, weed out the weak links and get guys to compete.
— Gabe Encinas
Is DeAndre Ayton on campus yet?
From what I have heard, yes. He is also listed on the UA student directory, for whatever that’s worth.
Arizona travels to Spain for a trio of exhibition games in mid-August, so the team is able to hold a handful of practices in July before that (10 of them, I think).
Plus, Sean Miller said all of Arizona’s freshmen would be on campus at some point this summer for summer school.
While a potential hiccup with Ayton’s eligibility (most likely for academic reasons) could happen between now and November, there doesn’t seem to be much concern that one will arise.
— Ryan Kelapire
Will Tamara Statman get a shot in the circle next season now that Arizona softball has lost the majority of its pitching?
With Taylor McQuillin as Arizona’s only returning pitcher, it seems likely Statman will at least get a shot to log some innings for UA softball.
She did throw bullpen sessions and take grounders as a pitcher this past season, but Arizona is adding two pitching recruits — Taylor Gilmore and Hanah Bowen — and Mike Candrea hinted they will likely add a transfer as well, so it remains to be seen where Statman or any of the newcomers will be on the totem pole.
As such, pitching is definitely Arizona’s biggest question mark in 2018.
— Ryan Kelapire