It might not have been a weekender to Vegas, but last weekend, at least for the Arizona Wildcats, was pretty rowdy.
If you had the free time, you were able to see two basketball games and an upset over the then-10th ranked football team in the country.
Friday's season opener against the Pacific Tigers allowed Coach Sean Miller to extend his bench's playing time and in doing so, seven of the 10 players saw at least 20 minutes of floor action. Only Justin Simon and Chance Comanche saw less than 10, and coincidentally, neither made a shot.
Monday, the benches were cleared even more, allowing Jacob Hazzard to get some blood flowing during a 30-point takedown of the Bradley Braves.
Player Grades vs. Pacific:
Ryan Anderson - A: There's no more doubt to why he's secured at least six-straight ‘gold jerseys’ in practice. With an 18 point, 12 rebound performance to start the year, along with an efficient 5-8 from the field and 8-11 at the line, Anderson is positioning himself for a huge season.
Kadeem Allen - B+: The former JuCo National Player of the Year showed why he was just that by stuffing the box score in this regular season McKale Center debut. With 13 points, 4 rebounds, and a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio, plus impressive defense, Allen is showing how complete a ball player he is.
Gabe York - B: Seemingly the only threat from long range in Friday’s game, York gave everyone a taste of how far he’s come since his freshman season. With 50% shooting on the evening and 3-5 from behind the arc, the California native couldn’t have asked for a better home opener. Now all he has to do is replicate it for another 35 games.
Mark Tollefsen - B: Raise your hand if you thought Tollefsen would lead the team in blocks for any game this season. I’ll venture a guess to say none of your put your hand up. Well that’s exactly what he did. With 10 points, three blocks, five rebounds, and a three-pointer, the USF transfer got the nerves out early and put in a nice performance in front of another McKale Center sellout crowd.
Dusan Ristic - B: Eleven rebounds in 16 minutes. Now that’s how a 7-footer is supposed to play! With his offensive game still developing from a European style to American college basketball, Ristic is making a name for himself in Tucson by never backing down. With the team not needing him for offensive support against Pacific, it was great to see him concentrate on securing missed shots and getting the ball into the hands of guards to start the offense.
Kaleb Tarczewski - C: Here we go again. Being the tallest player on the court should have some benefits like rebounding, but for whatever reason, Zeus doesn’t seem to find himself within reach of the ball. Even though he only had four rebounds, he was a solid defensive presence being that he’s a behemoth on the court. He also added in nine points, with five of them coming from the free throw line. It’ll be interesting to see how well he plays once everyone hits their stride come late December, early January.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright- D: As a point guard, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt if his point totals don’t blow people away but that’s because I expect him to keep the offense flowing and rack up assists. On opening night however, PJC did neither. With only three points and an underwater assist to turnover ratio (2:3), Miller has a pretty easy choice at who should start at the point guard slot.
Allonzo Trier - D: A rough start to the season for Trier with 1-10 from the field, but slightly made up for it at the line, going 5-6. I’ll give him a pass because, well, we all saw Monday night’s game.
Player Grades vs Bradley:
Allonzo Trier - A+: Welcome to the show Mr. Trier. In his second career game, the freshman All-American dropped 22 points on only five shots (it helps when you go 14-14 from the line), didn’t commit a turnover, and had five rebounds. It is evident he has the best dribble-drive of the guards on the team, so more of the high-scoring outbursts should be expected if he continues to knock down the freebees.
Ryan Anderson - B+: So my hope of a season long double-double streak ended, but not missing a shot (4-4) with 15 points, four rebounds, three steals, and no turnovers is still a very solid performance. I’m calling first team All-Pac 12 right now.
Kaleb Tarczewski - B+: Zeus was another starter who didn’t miss a shot in the game (3-3) while keeping up his great free throw shooting (83%). With 11 points and 7 boards, Arizona Wildcat fans will be ecstatic if he can give us that at a minimum.
Dusan Ristic - B+: 10 points. 5 rebounds. 0 turnovers. Most teams would be thrilled if their starting 7’0 center would do that and Ristic is our backup! With the ability of both Zeus and he to hit mid-range jump shots, it’ll be interesting to see if Miller ever plays them at the same time. It would sure be fun unless the outcome is a 10-0 run by the opposition.
Gabe York - B: Another good shooting day for the senior with two threes (in a span of seconds) that put separation between the ‘Cats and Braves. York, with 10 points total, also contributed with four rebounds, a nice bonus for a smaller wing.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright - C+: After a disappointing opening night, PJC played much better Monday, dishing out six assists and only committing one turnover. With only two shots taken (along with three out of five at the line), it shows the ball was not stuck in his possession, thus enabling ball movement throughout the offense.
Mark Tollefsen and Kadeem Allen - C-: When three of your five starters finish the game with four fouls, it puts a strain on the bench. Luckily, that bench is full of capable players who, as we saw, can drop 22 points like nothing. Allen and Tollefsen both had four fouls which took them completely out of rhythm. Neither player played more than 20 minutes and combined to score just 10 points and grab six rebounds. With a team this talented, the only thing that can bring them down is committing silly fouls.
Chance Comanche, Justin Simon, Jacob Hazzard - N/A: They played four, five, and three minutes respectively, which doesn’t give them enough time to show what they have to produce. Hazzard was the only one to make a shot of the bunch (Comanche had a FT) and Simon was able to pull down three rebounds.
Ability to get to the FT Line - A+: This squad set a McKale record with 52 free throw attempts, though they made only 35. In percentage form, that’s a ‘D.’ Back to the gym, guys.
Overall, Allonzo Trier is symbolic of the way these games were played. The Wildcats started slow, but were able to adjust and overcome in the end, and as I’ll say for each of these:
The Future is Bright for These ‘Cats