Arizona: 2011-12 Post-MortemPosted by AMurawa on April 4th, 2012
Over the course of the next two weeks, the Pac-12 Microsite will break down each team’s season: what went well, what didn’t, and a look ahead at the future. Today’s subject: Arizona.
What Went Wrong
The Wildcats came into the season expecting to compete for a Pac-12 title and find their way back into the NCAA Tournament for the 27th time in 28 years. With a class of four highly regarded freshman coming in, it seemed that while Sean Miller might struggle a bit with inexperienced players, they would have enough talent to establish enough of a resume to earn a postseason invitation. Instead, one of those freshmen – Sidiki Johnson – played exactly nine minutes in his Arizona career before getting run off by Miller for behavioral problems. Another freshman – Josiah Turner – lost his starting job in the second game of the season for being late to a shoot around, blew his chance at regaining that spot by missing a practice and getting suspended just before the trip to Florida in December, then got suspended a second time in March leaving his future with the team in jeopardy and leaving his Wildcats on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday.
What Went Right
Veterans like Kyle Fogg, Jesse Perry, and Solomon Hill all did their best to step up and lead the team, with each turning in their best season in the careers. Fogg was excellent during the conference season and ends his Wildcat career with several places in the program’s record book alongside Wildcat legends while Hill was at his versatile best leading the team in rebounds and assists while finishing second on the team in scoring. Between the three of them, they accounted for 56.1% of the scoring, 54% of the rebounding, and 44.3% of the assists. Plus, despite the struggles that Miller had with immaturity among his freshman class, the coach showed his willingness time and again to put discipline as a priority in his program, a decision that may have cost Arizona a game or two this season, but one that should pay dividends in the long run.
Kyle Fogg. While it is hard to overlook what Hill did over the course of the year, Fogg was more consistent down the stretch of conference play, scoring 17 points per game against Pac-12 opponents after February, helping out his undersized frontline on the glass (he had two double-doubles and a couple games where he was a rebound away) and being a game changer on the defensive end.
Kyle Fogg, Jesse Perry, Brendon Lavender. Miller loses a trio of seniors for sure, and then there’s still the matter of Turner. He was suspended indefinitely prior to the Pac-12 Tournament and there is the very real possibility that he will not be asked back next season although further insight into his future remains to be seen.
Players Coming In
Kaleb Taczewski, Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley, Gabe York. This quartet of freshmen currently makes up the best recruiting class in the nation. Jerrett and Ashley are both hard-working big men who participated in the McDonald’s All-American game, while the seven-footer Tarczewski is even more highly regarded, a strong big man with dependable post moves and a game on the come. Throw in athletic scorer York at the wing and Miller hit a home run with this class.
Reason For Hope
Anytime you have the top recruiting class in the nation in April, you have reason for hope in your program. Along with the youngsters, Hill is back for his senior season, Kevin Parrom should be back to 100% after a injury-plagued year and next year’s sophomore class should be in for a big bump in production. Nick Johnson got off to a strong start in November and December but struggled with his jumper and with confidence throughout conference play, but he has a ton of athleticism and a good work ethic, meaning his best days should be ahead of him. Angelo Chol is still raw, and he will have three freshmen pushing him for time, but he showed an ability to be a difference maker inside in the Pac-12. And, if somehow Turner does his penance and is welcomed back into the fold, he definitely has the potential for an NBA future with his combination of explosiveness off the bounce and defensive pestering.
Reason For Concern
Given Turner’s track record, it is a good bet that his days in Tucson are done, meaning the 2012-13 version of the Wildcats could be sorely lacking a point guard. Jordin Mayes will be a junior, but he did little in his sophomore campaign to make anyone think that he is the answer there, and while Hill did a great job of playing point forward this year, Arizona would be better off with a traditional point. Miller tried to force Johnson into the point guard role at times in Turner’s absence, but that was a no-go, meaning that Point Guard U is going to have one big old question mark at their signature position until someone steps up and takes the reins.
C+. When you are a program the caliber of Arizona, a season in which you miss the NCAA Tournament is never a good thing. But, with the addition of a spectacular recruiting class and the job Miller did laying down the law with his freshman knuckleheads, we will give this program the benefit of the doubt. For now.