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Arizona basketball: Give Elliott Pitts some time

Elliott Pitts has not exploded out of the gate, true, but it's been a strange start to the college basketball season.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Right before the 2015-16 season started, I submitted a FanPost entitled "Elliott Pitts Rises?", in which I predicted his junior season, primarily as a result of Ray Smith's season-ending ACL tear, would finally be the year when Elliott Pitts proves once and for all that he is a legitimate threat. Several hours later, he was scrapped from Arizona's opening game against Pacific after injuring his left knee in practice.

In his first game of the season, against Bradley, he recorded three points on 1-6 shooting and three rebounds in 20 minutes. In his second game, against Boise State, he scored three points, committed three turnovers, and fouled out in just 11 minutes. And against Northwestern State Sunday night, he missed all three of his three-point attempts while nearly fouling out again in 17 minutes of ball.

Season averages so far: 2.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 3.0 APG.

In a recent article, fellow Desert Swarm writer, Alec Sills-Trausch, graded Elliott Pitts' overall performance against Boise State and Northwestern State a C, and rightly so. My prediction about Elliott Pitts unleashing a break-out season was a foolhardy claim, you might now say. I should be banned from ever writing about the Arizona men's college basketball team ever again, you may argue.

Nonsense, I answer. Not so fast, I reason.

This early in the season, these performances mean nothing. They are in no way an indicator of what is to come. While on the court, Elliott Pitts has shown, however briefly, he can be a dangerous threat, especially against Bradley. In that game, he repeatedly found the open man for easy buckets. Oh, you say that it was a fluke that he delivered a career-best and also a game-high seven assists? Well, I counter, if he hadn't unbelievably fouled out in 11 minutes during the following game against Boise State, it is perfectly reasonable to presume he would have expanded upon the two assists he had already accumulated.

True, he may not have delivered one single assist the very next game against Northwestern State, but let us pause here for a moment and take a look around at all the strange drama that has already unfolded at the start of this college basketball season. Quite a number of unexpected occurrences have transpired. Even without Marcus Paige, who honestly predicted No. 1 North Carolina to get beat by Northern Iowa? If I hadn't attended a literary conference on Northern Iowa's campus last summer, I probably wouldn't have even known they had a Division-I basketball team. Western Illinois beat last season's NCAA Runner-up and No. 17 Wisconsin. George Washington beat defensive powerhouse and No. 6 Virginia, and Tulsa upended No. 9 Wichita State.

The lesson to be gleaned here: What has transpired so far does not actually bear serious consideration. Quality teams losing to practically unheard-of schools, Elliott Pitts fouling more than he scores--these things garner merely an eye roll.

The Arizona Wildcats next play Santa Clara on Thanksgiving night in the Wooden Legacy tournament. No, I am not going to claim that Elliott Pitts will go off for 20 points and 10 assists, but I do expect an improvement from his previous three appearances. At the very least, I expect he will control himself physically enough to play the kind of tenacious and smart defense he is capable of.

Like Virginia and Wisconsin and North Carolina and Wichita State, do not count Elliott Pitts out. There is still plenty of time for whatever kinks have discombobulated him to uncoil themselves and release the potential head coach Sean Miller referred to when he said that Elliott Pitts is "someone who can step up, no question, in the future."