The Arizona Wildcats lost to the Providence Friars on Friday night. It was the first loss of the year.
It also, apparently, has signified the end of Arizona basketball as we know it.
There's been a steady diet of "I told you so" coming in since the loss, with some indicating that this team just isn't going to be any good. I've seen comments running the gambit from 2015 being a dead year, all the way to Sean Miller reaching his pinnacle in the Elite Eight.
After one loss.
I'm not going to try and convince anybody that the 2015-2016 team is going to the Final Four. I'm of the opinion that making any kind of long-ranging prediction about this team at this point in the season is a fools' errand; we just don't know that much about who this team is, what their ceiling may be, or how they're going to come together (or fall apart) by the end of the year. So whether you believe this team is going to challenge in the tournament or won't score another basket all year, your opinion is equally valid and justifiable.
No, my argument here is that we need to put this loss into perspective.
We're all well aware how spoiled we've been in the past few years of Arizona basketball. The 'Cats won their first 14, 21, and 12 games in 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively. We're not used to seeing Arizona lose this early in the year, especially to an opponent perceived to be "inferior." But let's not pretend this is the first time this has happened.
Anyone remember 1997, when Arizona lost to New Mexico Lobos in the third game of the year, 84 - 77? New Mexico turned out to be a good basketball team, going 28 - 5 on the year and making it to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.
Remember how Arizona's 1997 season turned out?
That New Mexico team evokes similarities to the Providence Friars. They certainly weren't a pushover, but they also weren't a powerhouse. An NCAA tournament team with good talent that will be competitive in any game. In The Pit that night, a good team had a better night than an Arizona team that eventually won the title.
Just like the New Mexico loss was not a harbinger of doom for the '96-97 team, the Providence loss isn't the kiss of death for the '15-16 team. There are going to be growing pains with a team that returns one starter from the previous year and hosts a slew of transfers and freshmen. This isn't going to be the team that wins 21 in a row to start the year, but that doesn't mean they have no potential. I'm not saying they're going to turn into the '97 championship team, but I also don't think they're going to collapse into the '09-10 team that went 16-15 and missed the tournament. And hey, remember what happened to that team the next year after they had time to learn the system and each other?
Now is not the time to panic. Give the team time to coalesce and let's see what happens.