The offseason is here, with all of Arizona’s sports done for 2021-22 and the 2022-23 campaigns still a little ways away.
Which makes this a great time to step back and see how all of the Wildcats’ programs are doing.
Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at each of the UA’s 19 men’s and women’s programs to see what shape they’re in and what prospects they have for the near future. We’ll break down each team and evaluate how it is performing under its current coaching staff, looking at the state of the program before he/she arrived and comparing it to now while also looking at this season and beyond.
Next up: Jim Anderson’s men’s golf team.
How it looked before
Men’s golf emerged as one of Arizona’s top Olympic sports under legendary coach Rick LaRose, who led the Wildcats to the NCAA postseason in 22 of his last 23 years at the helm. When LaRose retired after the 2012 season, the UA hired Anderson, an assistant coach at Texas A&M.
Anderson’s first’s seven years as head coach were rough: the highest the Wildcats finished in the Pac-12 was 8th. Then came the 2020 Covid-19 year that wiped out the final months of the spring season.
Where things stand now
Anderson turned the program around in the last two years, leading the UA to a Pac-12 championship in 2021 and to the NCAA Championships in 2022. Anderson would be one of the first to say that the credit largely belongs to Arizona’s upperclassmen, Trever Werbylo 2021 and Christian Banke and Chase Sienkiewicz in 2022.
Arizona was inconsistent at times last season, finishing last in the Pac-12 Championship before winning its NCAA Regional. By making it to NCAA Championships, the Wildcats gained some invaluable experience that should go a long ways next spring.
Though Arizona lost Banke to graduation this summer, Sienkiewicz returns, as do Chaz Aurilia, Sam Sommerhauser and Johnny Walker. That group will form the core of Arizona’s roster heading into next season.
Arizona should return at least three other golfers and adds a trio of freshmen, the highest-touted of them being Filip Jakubcik of the Czech Republic.
One big question
Can Arizona get over the hump? In back-to-back seasons, the Wildcats achieved postseason success by winning the Pac-12 Championship in 2021 and winning their NCAA Regional in 2022. However, Arizona hasn’t been able to put it all together across one postseason.
Arizona’s goal next spring should be to qualify for NCAA Championships and reach the final eight match play round, where it could compete for a national title. An experienced core group combined with some talented up-and-comers should give the Wildcats a team that can realistically achieve that goal.