Arizona Week: What to Expect in 2012-13Posted by AMurawa on June 29th, 2012
We’ve spent the week with the Wildcats, and if you’ve followed along, you’ve likely got your own opinions about what the 2011-12 season will hold in store for Arizona. Can Mark Lyons strike the right balance between distributor and scorer at the point? How quickly can the three freshmen bigs make an impact? Which, if any, of Nick Johnson, Kevin Parrom or Angelo Chol will have a breakout year? And can this Wildcat team lay the foundation for another long run of consecutive NCAA Tournaments? If you’re anything like us, I’m sure you can’t wait to find out the answers, but for now we’re going to have to settle for a glance into RTC’s quite imperfect crystal ball. From what I can glean, here’s how the Arizona season plays out.
- UA’s Leading Scorer – Mark Lyons. It’s possible the Xavier-transfer could blow up and average 20 points a game this season, but that probably wouldn’t be good for Arizona’s team goals or Lyons’ personal goals. Still, he’s a guy who can get his own shot at will, either off the bounce or from deep. And, he’ll have the ball in his hands enough to score plenty. Still, with all the talent on this team, the guess is that this roster winds up producing pretty balanced scoring, with four different players scoring in double figures.
- UA’s MVP – Solomon Hill. Hill’s numbers may take a slight dip as he carves out a new role for himself on a talented roster, but he’ll still be asked to makes plays for himself and for teammates in the halfcourt, get on the glass with abandon, and check big name opponents, with guys like Shabazz Muhammad, Andre Roberson and Dwight Powell among who he’ll likely be asked to guard. And, as the most experienced senior on a team with five newcomers and a couple of sophomores, he’ll be the spiritual leader, called on to be an example for the rest of his team. He’ll likely thrive in such a role.
- UA’s Most Improved Returnee – Nick Johnson. Most of Johnson’s game is there already; he just needs to be able to knock down the jumper consistently and with confidence. After an offseason during which that was Johnson’s main focus, it would surprise no one if he patches that hole just fine. If opponents can no longer back off of him on the perimeter, suddenly Johnson’s great athleticism will earn him numerous trips into the lane for easier and cleaner shots. And, whereas the freshman Johnson let his lack of confidence in his offensive game effect other areas, the sophomore who trusts his shot will have no such problems, allowing him to thrive on the defensive end.
- UA’s Most Impactful Freshman – Kaleb Tarczewski. As the only true center on the club – and a very talented one at that – expect Tarczewski to get all he minutes he can handle. And he’ll produce in those minutes too. While he’ll get stronger as his career progresses, he’s got a body capable of handling the rigors of the Pac-12 schedule just fine. And he’s got the skills in the post and on the glass to be an effective offensive player from the first tip. He can average 10/8 right out of the gate, with upside even higher than that.
- UA’s Conference Record/ Finish – 14-4, 2nd place. In a much improved conference, the Wildcats appear to be one of two teams (the other UCLA) in the top tier of the Pac-12. Right now we’ll give the edge to the Bruins, as the Lyons situation at point concerns me (although UCLA has their own issues, which we’ll discuss later this summer). Still, this is a team that should be better in March than it is in November and their combination of size, depth and athleticism should make them a tough out come tournament time. Let’s call Arizona a 3-seed in the Big Dance, with Sean Miller’s club coming just short of earning its second Elite Eight in the past three years.