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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Who are these Arizona Wildcats?

As the official start to Arizona basketball looms closer and closer, fans everywhere begin to take a look at what this year’s team will bring to the table. Everyone got their first look at the team during the McDonald’s Red-Blue Game on Saturday afternoon.

Here are some of the key points from the first look at the new Wildcats.

Who are the 2015-2016 Arizona Wildcats?

The team features seven new faces to the program: Freshmen Allonzo Trier, Justin Simon, Ray Smith, Chance Comanche and transfers Mark Tollefsen, Ryan Anderson and Kadeem Allen. Anderson and Allen both were on the 2014-2015 roster but sat out the season after transferring.

The new players looked exceptional during the game, especially seniors Anderson and Tollefsen. Anderson had a game-high 15 points while Tollefsen added another 13 on 5-5 shooting. Both players also had eight rebounds each. Though it was their first time wearing an Arizona uniform, Anderson and Tollefsen displayed their maturity and experience in the scrimmage.

“You saw Ryan Anderson and Mark Tollefsen; they don’t look like freshmen because they’re not,” head coach Sean Miller said about the newcomers. “Although they’re new players, they’re in their last year of college.”

Allen was quiet for most of the game, scoring a couple of late baskets. His biggest upside was his defensive presence.

Trier was the most impressive of the freshman group, as he scored nine points but also missed some open shots. Smith scored eight points and showed some incredible athleticism, but he also picked up five fouls in the contest. Simon was quiet offensively but his defense was impressive.

“I love our freshman class because of their attitude,” Miller said. “They have an attitude that makes it fun to be in the gym as their teammate and also as one of their coaches.”

Vets look Rusty

Yes, this was a scrimmage, and yes, it is very early in the season. However, Arizona’s returning players were not as sharp as everyone may have thought them to be a month before the season.

Dusan Ristic looked the best of the veterans. He was nimble on his feet, pump faking and working his way around defenders with finesse. He finished the game with 14 points and five rebounds, looking stronger and playing better defense as well.

Miller says Ristic has been a very eager learner during his time at Arizona.

“There aren’t a lot of seven-footers that have his skill set,” Miller said. “He’s adept with both hands, he keeps the ball high and he’s a willing passer. He’s really a fun guy to coach because of that attitude that I continue to refer to. As long as that attitude stays on our side, that’s our greatest upside as a team this year.”

Senior Gabe York got off to a slow start but picked up his play later in the game. He finished with 10 points including a pair of threes. Junior Elliot Pitts also hit a couple of threes and showed everyone that his defense is still solid.

Sophomore Parker Jackson-Cartwright displayed good passing ability at the point guard position. Jackson-Cartwright finished the game with four assists but could have had a couple more had his teammates knocked down some open shots.

Center Kaleb Tarczewski sat out of the game as a precaution for an ankle injury suffered earlier in the week.

The veterans started out slow but picked it up in the second half. Arizona will be relying heavily on the senior leadership of this year’s team.

My starter picks:

Point guard: Parker Jackson-Cartwright

Shooting guard: Allonzo Trier

Small forward: Mark Tollefson

Power forward: Ryan Anderson

Center: Kaleb Tarczewski

Sixth man: Gabe York

This year’s team will have an interesting rotation. Simon could earn a significant role at the point guard spot because of his athleticism. Ristic could also see an expanded role, as Miller has entertained the possibility of Ristic and Tarczewski being on the floor at the same time.

The Wildcats also seem to have their depth back as Pitts, Smith, Comanche and Allen should all see time off the bench. This team looks deep, and with each player showing signs of solid play Arizona fans have a lot to look forward to this season.


Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.


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