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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA hoops look to reload in 2015

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Bill Mason, Cat Tran Driver (Brown hair) Dennis Cady, Cat Tran Driver (black and white striped shirt) AJ Dowgiert, Cat Tran Driver (Plaid/Checkered Shirt)

As good as Arizona’s football program was last year in knocking off Washington, ASU and Oregon, this town will always be basketball first, and that is not changing anytime soon.

Coming off of a 34-4 season and an Elite Eight appearance highlighted by wins over Gonzaga, Utah and Ohio State, the Wildcats hope to reach the Final Four this year for the first time since 2001.

Fortunately Frank Kaminsky is unable to hurt the ‘Cats in the Elite
Eight anymore.

Returning for the Wildcats is lone starter Kaleb Tarczewski from last season, manning the middle along with shifty point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, versatile wingman Elliot Pitts, sixth-man extraordinaire Gabe York and Serbian fan-favorite Dusan Ristic. Each had moments to shine last season and will provide great leadership for the newcomers as they hope to three-peat as Pac-12 Conference Champions.

Jackson-Cartwright is looking to take the torch from T.J. McConnell as the next member of “Point Guard U,” a prestigious fraternity that includes National Player of the Year award winners Mike Bibby, Jason Terry and Jason Gardner. Pitts and York are spot-up shooters that stretch the floor, and Ristic was productive in the minutes he was given, such as 12-point games against Cal and UCLA with limited playing time.

Joining the team this year to bolster the frontcourt and aid Tarczewski is a duo of transfer big men in Mark Tollefson and Ryan Anderson. San Francisco grad Tollefson averaged 14 points and 5 rebounds last season while Boston College transfer Anderson sat out last season due to transfer regulations. During the 2013-2014 season, he was an All-ACC honorable mention and averaged 14 points and 7 rebounds for the Eagles.

Miller also brought in a quartet of newcomers led by Allonzo Trier. Trier, who averaged 26 points his senior year, looks to be the go-to scorer the team needs after the departure of Stanley Johnson and is definitely up to the task.

Small forward Ray Smith is coming off an ACL injury and looks to be the future at that position once he is back to full health. Incoming point guard Justin Simon has the versatility and athleticism to play multiple positions while big man Chance Comanche is waiting in the wings with the depth in the frontcourt.

While the departures of Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, McConnell and Brandon Ashley may seem tough to overcome, head coach Sean Miller still has many returning pieces to go along with another top-five recruiting class that is competing with Cal, UCLA and the rest of the Pac-12 for the
conference crown.

The Wildcats will likely still enter the 2015 season as favorites to win the conference again, though they might not cruise to a win as handily as the overall six-game cushion they had last season.

Although the Wildcats are transitioning into a new era with many unfamiliar faces playing new roles, this city still expects greatness from the hoops squad and another title to go along with the historic ’97 one.

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