The exhibition season for the Arizona Wildcats came and went, and probably left fans with more questions than answers prior to Friday’s tough opener against the Michigan State Spartans in Hawai’i.
So what were our biggest takeaways from the two games? Here’s what we think:
Brandon Hill: To me it’s the roster uncertainty. Ray Smith’s injury is an absolute heart-breaker. Hopefully Chance Comanche is good to go going forward. Allonzo Trier’s status is the one that needs resolution one way or the other. On one hand, he is on the bench and seemingly participating with the team to some degree (in other words, he’s not bouncing to join some pro team). On the other, Sean Miller still won’t say a single word about Trier’s status.
David Stevenson: Patience. Sean Miller has a lot of work to do this season if this team is to make an NCAA Tournament run. Every year, Miller seems to coax maximum effort and performance out of new recruits and first-time starters through the four month season. This seems to be the new world of basketball in Tucson: panic in November, strong in March.
David Potts: Lower those expectations. Even if Chance Comanche returns by Friday, the Wildcats have eight scholarship players who could see the court. That is not enough scholarship players. This is a problem early in the season (like, say, when you’re trying to beat Chico State), but it will become an even bigger problem as the season progresses. Players will get dinged up and miss time, and Arizona is ill-equipped to deal with those inevitable injuries. This team will have to fight through a lot to be as competitive as Arizona fans expected going into the year.
Matt Sheeley: Look, only beating Chico State by eight at home isn't a good look. There's no positive way to spin that. However, it was only an exhibition. The 2013-14 Wildcats, one of the most beloved teams in program history, opened their regular season with an 11-point win at home against Cal Poly. They didn't have a double digit lead in that game until 11 minutes into the second half. That team went on to be a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
To be clear, this year's team is NOT that team. But the point is, there's no reason to overreact to a lackluster early season performance against a small program. This team's preparation level and how the lack of depth is able to hold up against Michigan State on Friday will be a much better indication of what fans can expect from this year's team.
Gabe Encinas: They were two exhibition games that had polar opposite score outcomes. And despite only having seven scholarship players, I think it’s pretty embarrassing that Chico State was able to hang with Arizona for 40 minutes given the complete difference in talent levels.