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Arizona basketball roundtable: On Wooden Legacy, Mark Tollefsen, and Gonzaga

How can Arizona get past Gonzaga for the third-straight year?

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With six days off, it's a nice time to look back at what we took away from the Arizona Wildcats' performance in Orange County last weekend, and what they'll need to do this weekend against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in Spokane.

Also, one guy that seems to be pretty polarizing so far is USF transfer Mark Tollefsen, so let's give our thoughts on him and more in this week's Arizona basketball roundtable:

Jason Bartel: What was your main takeaway from Wooden Legacy Weekend?

Gabe Encinas: This team has a lot of great depth, but no standout guy on either side of the ball. Sure there's Ryan Anderson, but there's only so much he can do.

In prior years, Arizona had a go-to guy that could do it all. Derrick Williams, Solomon Hill, Nick Johnson, Aaron Gordon, Stanley Johnson, even T.J. McConnell. This year, there's really none of that on this team. It seems as if this roster is filled with role players, not that stand out.

Alec Sills-Trausch: This team can't shoot for a lick. After going a combined 8-44 from three, this team won't have much success if it can't stretch the defenses. I'm looking at you York and Pitts.

Also, Ryan Anderson's head is very hard and apparently has magic powers that prohibit teams from having their baskets counted.

Brandon Hill: This team has no perimeter defensive stopper, like a Rondae Hollis-Jefferson from years past. Getting torched by Jared Brownridge to the tune of 44 (almost three times his season average net outside of the Arizona game, 15 ppg) was particularly alarming. Kris Dunn didn't go off necessarily but he dominated at the end of the game and Arizona had no answer for his critical buckets, as he scored the last 10 points for Providence.

Ryan Kelapire: There are a lot of things, but I think the main two (which have already been mentioned above) are the lack of a lockdown defender and poor perimeter shooting. Not having a lockdown defender isn't that shocking given the roster, but the poor shooting baffles me. With players like Gabe York, Elliott Pitts, Mark Tollefsen, Allonzo Trier, and Parker Jackson-Cartwright playing significant minutes, it's surprising that Arizona has struggled to shoot the ball as much as they have. I still have hope they can turn it around though.

JB: What are your thoughts on Mark Tollefsen so far?

GE: He's definitely taking some time to adjust here. He was never a standout guy at USF, but he steadily improved each and every year. Like I mentioned above, he's a solid role player and depth guy. But I'm not sure you can really expect him to contribute a whole lot this season, as a starter or off the bench, for now.

AST: If any of you watched USF basketball last season, did he foul this much? Tollefsen has fouled out of two games and had four fouls in another. I think he's still figuring out his role like Gabe said. He had his two best games of the season in Anaheim so maybe we're at a turning point.

BH: Yeah, I too am trying to reserve judgment a little as he continues to get acclimated to a new program and a much brighter spotlight. It appears he will be little more than a semi-reliable role player, which I think is a slight disappointment for a guy who did 14 and 5 last year.

RK: Defensively he's been about what I've expected, but offensively he's a lot different than I imagined. He's struggled to shoot the ball, and his best work has come on the offensive glass. I do think that we can assume that his shooting will improve though. He's currently at 27.8% from behind the arc, and his previous worst shooting year was 35.7%. I think he's the type of player that will be much improved by the end of the year once he's more comfortable in his role.

JB: Who needs to step for this team in Spokane on Saturday?

GE: I've been a big fan of Gabe York throughout his years, and I think he's a reflection of this offense. If he's not hitting shots, the team starts to slump. Once he starts knocking down a few threes or pulling up the lane, the team starts to build some momentum.

With Kaleb being out, I guess you just have to hope that Chance Comanche and Dusan Ristic are ready to go.

AST: York is an obvious one because of the Zag's height (they run 6'10, 7", 7") it's going to be rough going inside. But I'm going to go with Dusan Ristic. Now with Zeus injured, he's going to be starting with the aforementioned size of Mark Few's squad. Ristic is going to need a career game on Saturday in order for the ‘Cats to have a fighting chance. #WeMissYouZeus

BH: I'll go with Allonzo Trier. This is a big stage, in a very tough place to play, for a McDonald's All-American to step up. I think it's no coincidence that Arizona's two closest games this year (Santa Clara and Providence) were Trier's two lowest offensive output games both in points and minutes. If he can be in the mid-teens vs. the Zags it will be a huge shot in the arm.

RK: I'll say Dusan Ristic. Given that Tarczewski is out and Gonzaga has a huge front court, Arizona will need Ristic to counter the Bulldogs' size. I certainly don't think this will be a game where Sean Miller will be able to get away with having an Anderson/Tollefsen frontcourt for extended minutes. Ristic will have to play a lot of minutes, stay out of foul trouble, and ultimately play well if the Wildcats are going to pick up this road win.