On Arizona’s Uncertain (Immediate?) Future…

Posted by Adam Butler on February 23rd, 2018

Allonzo Trier’s suspension yesterday came with great emotion, at least from the perspective of an Arizona fan. Immediately, it’s upsetting. Trier is in his third season in Tucson but it’s been closer to one-and-a-half. It was a broken hand during his freshman year that led to missing seven critical mid-conference games. The Wildcats went 5-2 in his absence during that stretch. They’d finish 6-4 upon his return. His sophomore campaign started in January because of a 19-game suspension. The Wildcats went 17-2 without him and 15-3 after his return. So while his absence hasn’t always led to Arizona’s demise, his absence isn’t welcomed either. The presumed irresponsibility of accepting unknown substances isn’t quickly forgiven.

Will Allonzo Trier Ever Play at Arizona Again (USA Today Images)

And now Arizona finds itself without Trier again as the same reason for last season’s suspension has re-emerged. According to the school, trace amounts of his last failed test were found after a late January drug test. As we said, it’s immediately upsetting. But consider the case of Kolton Houston. The Georgia football player tested positive, was approved by the NCAA to return, but only upon clearing the drug completely from his system. Turns out that clearing certain drugs is hard to do and Houston spent all his eligibility and a lot of money trying to play again. Houston is a case by which we might sympathize with Trier. Further, the NCAA just isn’t a group we generally laud for its jurisprudence. Typically, the opposite.

Alas, our feelings won’t soon bring Allonzo Trier justice, whether through exoneration or expulsion. We also don’t seem to have – once again – a timetable. Focusing on the known, we’ve seen Arizona without Trier for one game. They looked fine against Oregon State, but beating a KenPom 100+ team while your own roster touts the likely #1 pick in the NBA Draft isn’t generally telling. With confidence, we can’t forecast based on that game. We also know that Arizona has used very few bench minutes (209th most bench minutes nationally) and that the bench has been particularly successful. It’s been a rotating cast of sometimes lost wings, suggesting Trier’s shoes are that much more difficult to fill. To pile on, Trier has participated in 96 percent of the last five games’ minutes. He’s been listed – per KenPom – as playing point guard, shooting guard and small forward. We can quantify it many different ways, but Allonzo Trier is an integral piece of the Wildcats.

And candidly, there isn’t much silver lining to this. It’s likely not a fruitful exercise to discuss the merits or skills of Dylan Smith and Brandon Randolph. To ask if Rawle Alkins can shake his turnover habit and become the NBA pick he’s been projected to become (maybe he can just pretend it’s always overtime in Corvallis?). Arizona is already a program under great pressure. Losing one of the nation’s most efficient scorers doesn’t help. It’s seemingly another strange and disappointing end to an Arizona season. Upsetting to an Arizona fan.

Adam Butler (47 Posts)

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