It may seem like college sports are always going on, but July is the one month of the year when no Arizona Wildcats teams are in action. Yep, we’re as sad about that as you are.
Before you know it, the 2019-20 seasons will be under way for Arizona’s 19 men’s and women’s sports. But in the meantime, now is the perfect opportunity to assess how each of these programs are doing.
Over the next few weeks we’ll break down each team and evaluate how it is performing under its current coaching staff, looking at the state of the program before he/she arrived and comparing it to now (as well as looking into the near future).
Next up: Jim Anderson’s men’s golf squad.
How it looked before
When former Wildcat Nate Lashley won the PGA’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in late June it was a reminder of just how great Arizona men’s golf was under Hall of Fame coach Rick LaRose. From 1978-2012 the Wildcats made 23 appearances in the NCAA championships, winning it all in 1992 and finishing in the top 10 eight other times.
When LaRose—who also piloted the Arizona women’s golf team to the 1996 NCAA title—retired after the 2011-12 season—it left huge shoes to fill. The school ultimately turned to Anderson to slip those cleats on, hoping his experience as an assistant at New Mexico and Texas A&M would translate well in Tucson.
Where things stand now
Now seven years at the helm, Anderson has yet to guide Arizona to the NCAA championships. Only three of his teams have made the West Regional tournament, including the last two, with the 2018 unit’s sixth-place finish the best under his guidance.
The Wildcats’ performance within the Pac-12 has also been disappointing, finishing no better than eighth in the conference tournament any year under Anderson.
A few individual standouts have been under Anderson’s watch, including George Cunningham, whose 71.87 career scoring average is third-lowest in program history, while junior Trevor Werbylo is currently fifth all-time at 72.1.
One big question
Can the program produce another future PGA champion? When Lashley won in Detroit in June he became the ninth former Wildcat to win on the PGA Tour. The other eight all finished their Arizona careers more than two decades ago.
There are two current pro golfers who played under Anderson, Cunningham and Jordan Gumberg, but neither has done anything significant to this point.