One week in, and there's already plenty to look forward to for the Arizona Wildcats this year that is more than just pure basketball.
We talk about a couple of those things, and if there's anything that the Wildcats can do offensively that we haven't seen yet in this week's roundtable:
Jason Bartel: How ready are you for Bobby Hurley to come to Tucson?
Gabe Encinas: I'm extremely excited. The dude is never going to hear the end of it. Students are going to have ridiculous big heads, memes, signs and props that are going to embarrass Hurley. He did this all to himself, and we'll see how the referees react to him now. His temper tantrum did nothing but intensify this rivalry. I think he's doing a great job in Tempe, coaching all of Sendek's guys up and making them better than they are. Once he gets his guys going into the mix, this rivalry is going to be one of the best. No longer will Arizona dominate in McKale. There will be times when Hurley brings his squad in and steals a win, that is, if he stays that long.
James Schlittenhart: I'm sure McKale Center is chomping at the bit to welcome the esteemed ball coach. Let's see if he can get ejected from every venue in the Pac-12. But the novelty of his big baby antics will wear thin in short order should ASU continue to play decent basketball. Credit where credit's due; the Sun Devils made a game of this one, and are playing at a much higher level than in recent years. Granted, it's a pretty low bar to aim for, and I don't imagine ASU will have a better chance to topple the Wildcats in Tucson than in Tempe, but it still looks like the Sun Devils are trending in the correct direction for once. It's up to the Zona Zoo to goad the good coach into Hurley Mode; the guy clearly has a bit of a self control issue.
Matt Sheeley: In my preseason Know Your Nemesis piece, I hyped up his hiring because I genuinely believe he'll end up being a very good coach (and take a higher profile job in five years or less). But I can't understate how ready I am for him to come to Tucson. I'm 27 so I was too young to watch his college career. But, with the benefit of ESPN Classic and YouTube, I've seen a ton of his Duke work. He is the epitome of Duke Basketball. And now he's brought that to ASU, of all places. He is the PERFECT villain for Arizona to root against. Sunday was the ideal example of that. It's gonna be fun to watch. Especially from the winning side.
David Potts: I'm excited for the reception he'll get from the Tucson crowd, but I don't know if he'll have the energy to maintain the same level of insanity that he managed on Sunday. Arizona will probably run Arizona State in Tucson, and if Hurley is down big early, I don't know if he'll care enough to get himself ejected again. That said, the Zona Zoo better come prepared - Hurley gave them a wealth of material to use in the match-up down in Tucson.
Brandon Hill: After Hurley's antics in Sunday's game in Tempe it will be fascinating to see him in McKale. He wore his heart on his sleeve as a player and now does likewise as a head coach. Like Wreck-It-Ralph, "[His] passion bubbles very near the surface." Beyond his obvious fire, he knows what's at stake in rivalry games having played at Duke, where the biggest rivalry was both geographic and conference-based as is UA/ASU. And as with any team entering McKale during the current home winning streak, everyone wants to take down the Cats.
Ryan Kelapire: I can't wait for the type of signs we'll see. As much as I don't like Bobby Hurley, I'm glad that he's now involved in this rivalry since it's makes it so much easier to poke fun at ASU (not that it was ever difficult).
Alec Sills-Trausch: It's going to be fantastic. It's not like McKale needed his antics to go any more bonkers, but that's just what will happen. While Hurley has experienced plenty of rivalry while at Duke, it's a new beast when 1) you're at the helm and 2) you enter into one the best home court environments in the country. If he tries to repeat what he did in Tempe in front of the ZonaZoo, he'll awaken a sleeping giant that hasn't been seen in a few years (like the first Whiteout game versus Washington for those on the young side of life).
JB: What ridiculous thing are you predicting Bryce Alford does this weekend?
GE: He's going to go off for 37 points and have himself a performance that only those who play Arizona in the Elite 8 have. UCLA took 2-of-3 in their Kentucky, Gonzaga, North Carolina stand, so the potential is there. But then you look at their opening conference games and chuckle to yourself. Arizona has had trouble defending scorers, and I might be a little shocked if he doesn't have at least 18 points.
JS: Undo a zipper from head to toe, revealing himself to also be Ben Simmons. Burn a small effigy of Russell Westbrook on the court. Go 3-of-24 from the field and foul out having scored in single digits. All three are just as plausible.
MS: Anything is possible. I refer to Gabe York's irrational confidence a lot. There's no denying that he's got it, though he's able to keep it in check most of the time. Bryce Alford is the same way...except it's never kept in check and he's got his dad enabling it. He could shoot 20+ times and shoot under 20%. Or he could drop 35+ with ease, leading to a Bruin win. My prediction: We will see, more than once on Thursday, a series of back-and-forth shots between York and Alford that makes everyone's jaw drop.
DP: Take a ton of ill-advised shots at the expense of his more talented and efficient teammates. Can it be ridiculous if he does it every game, though?
BH: I echo what my colleagues have said. You just never know with Alford. Could be a 30 point game on 75% 3 point shooting... or could be single digits on 1-of-15. From an entertainment standpoint, both Alford and York being hot would be fun to watch. Perhaps the two most "when they're hot they're hot" shooters in America.
RK: Everytime I've watched Alford play, he has a poor shooting percentage, but hits some big, timely shots. So that's my prediction. He may not be efficient, but he'll still be a thorn in the Wildcats' side, nonetheless.
AST: Maybe a few left-handed jumpers, because why not? Other than that, expect a ton of quick release three's that may or may not come close to their intended destination.
JB: Is there anything you'd like to see from Arizona offensively that you haven't seen yet?
GE: I just want Gabe York and Allonzo Trier to continue doing what they do. York is shooting 43% from beyond the arc and has scored in double-digit figures in all but one game this season, and that was NAU. A lot of his success comes off Kadeem Allen when he's playing the point. Allonzo Trier has been ruthless in the paint and doesn't care how he scores. His lowest scoring total since Thanksgiving was 11 points, also against NAU. He's averaging 17 points a game since their rematch of Boise State, and he's in the conversation for a one-and-done should he keep producing consistently. This offense isn't nearly as frustrating as it has been in the past. Maybe that's because it's almost an entirely new unit playing, or the 30 second shot clock, but it's hard to be nitpicky at this point in the season.
JS: Hard to argue with results. As Matt pointed out in his recap of the ASU game, the Arizona offense is performing at a level we haven't seen since the Lute Olson era. Ristic, Anderson, and Zeus are all very present inside, Trier and York are proving to be dependable threats from outside, and Allen is finding ways to distribute the ball in ways that play to the strengths of others. If I had to nitpick one element, I think it would be bench production. This is, however, a fairly small gripe. Injuries and the still mysterious absence of Elliott Pitts has forced the front five into more minutes, and also moved Ristic into the starting role. This eliminates a decent portion of Arizona's bench production, but mostly by reorganization rather than losing it altogether. I still would like to see Parker Jackson-Cartwright find a way out of his black hole, and a few more points from guys like Chance Comanche and Justin Simon. Again, this is nitpicky; the bench serves to get a huge shot in the arm with either Ristic or Zeus off the starting five, and Tollefsen continues to be a solid contributor. All in all, it's hard not to be pleased with the offense thus far.
MS: Honestly, the only thing that I'm really itching to see from the offense right now is for Parker Jackson-Cartwright to replace Kadeem Allen on the floor and not miss a beat. I'm not sure if it's Allen's really solid play or PJC's inconsistencies, it's probably a combination, but it's a very noticeable change right now, when that substitution is made. I think a consistent PJC is the only missing ingredient for an absolutely lethal Arizona team.
DP: I just want to see the Wildcats continue to play this well offensively. The game against Arizona State showed how well the Arizona offense can play when it's clicking. The key now is consistency, and if the Arizona offense continues to produce like this in conference play, the sky is the limit.
BH: I think all Arizona fans are pretty excited about this team's offensive output (both actual and potential). So when things are good, you have to be pretty nit-picky to point out flaws. The Cats are 178th in turnovers per game and 115th in assist/turnover ratio out of 351 NCAA college hoops programs (per teamrankings.com). They've gotten better over the season, but it's still something they can improve on. The offense is explosive but can clean up a bit in terms of efficiency.
RK: I agree with Matt. I want to see the offense hitting on all cylinders when Allen is out and Parker Jackson-Cartwright is in. It's funny because I thought for sure that PJC would be the better "true point guard" this season, but so far the opposite has been true. Still, the offense has been terrific this season regardless, and if PJC can now get it going then, wow, the offensive output will be incredible.
AST: It was touched on above but PJC breaking out of his winter hibernation would be a welcome sight. Also, I'd like to see Justin Simon get some more minutes (though I understand we're a tad cramped at that position) because his growth is more important in my opinion than the 5'8 PG's. Other than that, our offense looks pretty good when the posts and wings play off of each other.