Depth was supposed to be a strong suit for the Arizona Wildcats heading into the 2016-17 season, yet just one game into the team’s exhibition schedule, and it’s all but gone.
Allonzo Trier (unspecified reason) and Chance Comanche (academic reasons) missed Arizona’s exhibition versus the College of Idaho, while Ray Smith left the game with a knee injury, one that looked severe, though Sean Miller said they’ll know for sure what the injury is in the next few days.
The result? Arizona is down to seven scholarship players — Lauri Markkanen, Rawle Alkins, Kadeem Allen, Parker Jackson-Cartwright, Keanu Pinder, Dusan Ristic, and Kobi Simmons.
“We don’t have any depth,” Miller said flatly after the Wildcats’ 86-35 victory over the Coyotes. “We’re going to play our walk-ons, they’re going to have to get ready. We’re going to have to play three guards a lot, we’re going to have to teach Lauri [Markkanen] some small forward.”
The Wildcats will be short-handed to say the least, and will have to rely on some wacky lineups (Pinder, for example, played center during the exhibition) in the meantime.
Miller also said Arizona will have to be better at doing things it can control to combat the thinned roster.
“When we play in McKale [Center], we’re going to have to rely on our crowd, and our efficiency, playing with great effort, togetherness and taking it one day at a time and seeing where this leads us,” he said.
It’s unclear how long Trier, Comanche, and Smith will be sidelined. Comanche was suspended indefinitely for academic reasons, while Trier’s been surrounded by rumors of a potential season-long suspension for several weeks now.
Meanwhile, Smith’s injury (though not official) looks like one that will keep him off the court for quite sometime, if not for the entire season.
As a whole, it’ll be tough sledding for the Wildcats moving forward, and who knows when (or if) any of their depth issues will be resolved.
They return to action Sunday when they host Chico State in their second exhibition game. Tipoff in McKale Center is set for 4 p.m.
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