The Arizona Wildcats were swept in Oregon for the first since 2006, losing two games that could not have been more different.
UA dropped a heartbreaker in overtime to the No. 9-ranked Ducks, before getting eviserated by the Beavers in Corvallis two days later.
We want to know what you took away from the road trip, so be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Here’s one lesson some of our staff members learned from it.
Brian J. Pedersen — Talent doesn’t trump experience
And the trip to Oregon made this blatantly evident with Arizona. In both the overtime loss in Eugene and Sunday’s blowout at Oregon State, it didn’t matter that the Wildcats had three potential first-round NBA picks on the court, not when the opponents had guys who had been in the college game for a lot longer and knew how to tap into their prior history.
Oregon is in a similar boat to Arizona in terms of experience, but it still has Payton Pritchard, and that senior almost singlehandedly ensured the Ducks’ victory on Thursday. Oregon State is one of the most veteran power-conference teams in the country and you could tell how long some of the Beavers have played together.
Maybe by March this Arizona team will have gained enough experience to look like a seasoned unit, but so far the results aren’t promising.
Ryan Kelapire — Changes have to be made
Before getting obliterated by Oregon State, there was still a sense of optimism around Arizona basketball. Yes, it was coming off a loss to Oregon, but the Wildcats outplayed the Ducks for the first 38 minutes or so—on their homecourt!—and got contributions from almost their entire roster. Before that late collapse, they played some great basketball.
There is also the fact that three of Arizona’s first four losses were to top-10 teams, and all three games were relatively close down the stretch, giving life to the idea that the Wildcats were not far from being where they want to be.
The loss to the Beavers changes everything. Getting run out of the gym by an NIT-caliber team should be a real wake-up call— and an agent for change. Arizona is one of the few teams in the country that has trotted out the same starting lineup all season. but it regressed to the point that it wouldn’t hurt to experiment.
Give Ira Lee or Christian Koloko, two guys that might be able to help solve the longstanding rebounding problem, a chance and see what happens. Maybe let Jemarl Baker Jr., who was admittedly pretty rough defensively against the Oregon schools, or Max Hazzard get some run with the starters.
And while I am not in a position to offer legit advice when it comes to X’s and O’s, it would be refreshing to see some quirks added to the game plan, like a full-court press or extended minutes of zone defense. Anything that does not make this team so predictable.
Because as it’s currently constructed, it is hard to envision Arizona putting the pieces together. With so many new and young players, this team should be getting better as the season wears on. Instead, it is getting worse.
Ronnie Stoffle — Miller’s time is running out in Tucson
This very well may be the most unpopular opinion in this thread but so be it. A team of Arizona’s caliber should not be run out of the gym by teams like St. John’s and Oregon State.
The Wildcats now sit at 11-5 with three respectable losses in Baylor, Gonzaga and Oregon. But the fact that they lost in the fashion that they did to St. John’s and Oregon State is inexplicable.
I understand that Sean Miller is working with a team that has eight first-year players with the program. However, we are now 16 games into the season and it’s hard to say after what was witnessed on Sunday night that this team has progressed at all from the first game.
There is still a lot of season left but at this point, the Wildcats are no lock to make the tournament. However, let’s just assume they make the tournament (because they probably will) but don’t advance to the second weekend (which is likely). Does that coupled with the lingering dark cloud hovering over the program allegedly because of Miller’s recruiting violations warrant a parting of ways?
I say yes, in large part because it’s hard to imagine Miller having a more talented roster than he has now. I understand Miller has won nearly 75 percent of his games and has made the tournament in seven of his first 10 seasons with the program. Of course he has the three Elite Appearances to show as well.
But the bottom line is the trajectory that this team is on plus the under achievements of the Lauri Markkanen and Deandre Ayton teams means the last five seasons have been a bitter disappointment.
By applying the “what have you done for me lately” mantra, there’s no reason to assume that Miller will turn this around. If that in fact becomes the case, it won’t be a popular decision but it might be time for Arizona and Miller to part ways.
Matthew Rein — Let’s have some perspective
Sunday’s loss to the Beavers was bad. There’s no getting around that. Being blown out by an inferior Oregon State team is inexcusable, and everyone knows that. Coach Miller knows it, the players know it, the fans know it. However, let me list some scores from around the country just from this weekend:
- Purdue: 71, #8 Michigan State: 42
- Syracuse: 63, #18 UVA: 55
- Minnesota: 75, #19 Michigan: 67
Bad losses happen every single weekend in college basketball. Remember when Stephen F. Austin beat Duke at home? Duke is now back to being a top-three team nationally. This is the reality of college basketball. It’s a brutal, unforgiving game.
Those calling for Miller’s head or resigning to a lost season are simply misguided. The Wildcats still have the time and coaching to turn this ship around. As a reminder, three of Arizona’s losses came against top ten teams! I would be much more concerned had Arizona been blown out by Gonzaga, Baylor, and Oregon, but in each instance, they took their opponent to the wire.
So here’s my message. Take a deep breath. Trust in the coaching staff and players to figure it out. Reevaluate if you must after the season. And lastly, heed the words of our dear friend John Button Salmon.