Basketball is back in Tucson and there's not a soul in Wildcat Nation who hasn't been waiting for it since April.
With it being their first official game (they played St. Mary's last week in a "secret" scrimmage) against players they don't eat lunch with daily, we knew it would be a work in progress and that's exactly what it was.
At least at the beginning.
Thanks to the Wildcats' excellent depth and athleticism that rivals the nation's best, Chico State just didn't have enough in the tank to make it competitive for a full 40 minutes.
Eleven Arizona Wildcats saw the court last night with all of them contributing to the team's 90 point total.
Ryan Anderson, A+:
If fans of the Wildcats didn't know who Ryan Anderson was, they do now. He posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds on a super efficient 8-9 shooting. He brought his A-game and that's what I'm giving him. While most of Arizona's opponents will be more talented than Chico, if Anderson brings this effort every night, U of A is going to be riding high.
Allonzo Trier, B+:
In his first collegiate game, Trier stuffed the stat sheet. With 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists, it's no wonder this kid was ranked as one of the top players in the 2015 class. If he continues to produce like this, Coach Sean Miller will have to consider putting him in the starting line up.
Gabe York, B+:
Entering his final season, York is going to be counted on to produce on both offense and defense this year. With 13 points and 5 rebounds, he upheld his side of the bargain. If York is going to put up 13 points a game (which I doubt over the long run) he'll turn into a fan favorite!
Kaleb Tarczewski, B-/C+:
I guess Zeus can't win in my eyes unless he drops 20 and 10. As a senior and freak of nature (7ft and 5% body fat) he should be dominating every possession, but he continues to dribble a few times, go nowhere (or turn it over) and then kick it out. Yes he had 12 points, but the way he plays makes me wonder about his killer instinct. Hopefully I'm proven wrong this year.
Dusan Ristic, C+:
Dusan continues to grow and I mean that literally and figuratively. Up to over 250 pounds this season, the European center has improved every aspect of his game and is going to make Zeus work every day in practice to hold onto that starting center slot. He totaled seven points and grabbed six rebounds, meaning that the center position had 19 and 10 for the game.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright, C:
He has sort of been handed the reins to the team (I say sort of because Kadeem Allen started at PG) and did pretty much what we expected. He had 7 points and 3 assists but was hobbled by the 4 fouls called on him. After being spoiled with T.J. McConnell, 'Cats fans will have to accept a learning curve at the point guard position. In my view, all PJC needs to do is minimize mistakes and get the ball into the right hands for U of A to keep winning.
Kadeem Allen, C:
He didn't seem to be on the court long enough to make a sizeable impact (he did have 3 fouls and cramped up in the second half) but when he was, he was busy. With 5 points, 2 rebounds and a team-high 4 assists, Allen showed he's got the talent to wear 'Arizona' across his chest.
Justin Simon, C:
Even though he was the last scholarship player to see the floor, for whatever reason, he still racked up 6 points and didn't miss a shot. Being able to come out with energy after sitting on the bench for 34 minutes shows a lot about who Simon is as a player and person. I've always thought his size, defensive ability, and athleticism would put him at the front of the rotation. While I understand there's a logjam at the guard spots, I didn't expect he was the one to get the short end of the stick. It'll be interesting to see what happens the first few weeks of the season.
Mark Tollefsen, C:
His stat line of 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist might not seem too impressive but he's in a weird role now that Ray Smith is out. I foresee Tollefsen taking a few games to get adjusted to what Sean Miller wants from him. Plus, he's never been surrounded by as talented a cast as he is now.
Elliott Pitts, C:
If Pitts isn't hitting 3's, he's going to find himself on the bench quicker than a missed jump shot. For the game, the small forward missed all three of his outside shots, finishing with just two points and three assists.
Chance Comanche, C:
He had a huge throwdown towards the end of the game that got whoever was left in McKale on their feet. His two points and four rebounds won't open many eyes, but for someone who was expected to be redshirted, it's good to see some production out of him.
As you can tell, there was a lot of average grades dished out in this inaugural 2015 ‘Player Grades.' With playing time being much more varied than it would for a normal game, it's hard to get a good sense of each player's true production level.
Until next Friday, let's not worry too much about the individual performance and just bask in the glory that basketball is back and the ‘Road to the Final Four' begins anew.