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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Versus: Was Arizona men’s basketball’s season a success?

Arizona+basketball+coach+Sean+Miller+yells+at+a+referee+during+Arizonas+game+against+Wichita+State+on+Thursday+March+17+in+Providence%2C+Rhode+Island.
Jesus Barrera
Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller yells at a referee during Arizona’s game against Wichita State on Thursday March 17 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Ivan Leonard

As soon as the final horn sounded for No. 6 seed Arizona’s upset loss to No. 11 seed Wichita State, it capped off a disappointing yet fitting end to their season. The Wildcats were never in the game and did not seem to mind getting thrashed.

While going 25-9 and placing as high as seventh in the polls is no easy accomplishment, it often felt like this team lacked focus.

A common theme in Arizona’s losses featured the team trailing on the road by double-digits, only to claw their way back but unfortunately run out of time. In multiple losses, it seemed as if Arizona had never been in clutch situations before.

Be it Kaleb Tarczewski switching onto Bryce Alford against UCLA or Gabe York dribbling off his foot, this team seemed allergic to crunch time. That is what made the season so frustrating. Almost every close game on the road did not go Arizona’s way. Against Colorado, Cal and USC, the Wildcats would have an opportunity to win but you expected the worse. They would take time off the clock while trailing and then put up a desperation heave or outright turn the ball over.

While ahead on the road, the Wildcats were fine as evidence by the Washington and Gonzaga games where they put them away. But whenever they needed to come through in a hostile environment, it was a series of unfortunate events on multiple occasions.

Although this season was not bad by any means it also was not a success. While Wildcat fans should not cheer for ASU due to this season, they should take this into perspective on how good the last two teams were.

Justin Spears

For the first time in three seasons, the Arizona Wildcats’ postseason destiny didn’t reach the Sweet 16. All of a sudden, expectations weren’t met, in large part because of the success from the previous two seasons.

But this Arizona team shouldn’t be judged by its predecessors. In fact, Sean Miller exceeded every expectation with the deck of cards that were dealt to him this season.

The Wildcats entered the year as the No. 12 team in the nation, which is actually generous considering Arizona lost four starters and lost freshman Ray Smith due to an ACL injury he suffered in the offseason. With Elliott Pitts later stepping away from the program for “personal reasons,” the rotation was slim.

Dealing with the staggered injuries of arguably two of Arizona’s valuable players in Allonzo Trier and Kaleb Tarczewski, the Wildcats went 12-3 to open the year.

When Arizona reached league play, it entered a Pac-12 Conference that lived up to its reputation as the Conference of Champions. The Wildcats still finished among the upper third of the league.

“We had an incredible conference in the Pac-12,” Miller said after the team lost to Oregon in the Pac-12 Tournament. “Obviously we’re used to winning in the regular season, but we didn’t. We finished 12-6.”

The odds were against the Wildcats this season and finishing 25-9 may not be the season that Arizona fans were hoping for, but the adverse circumstances proved the worthiness of Miller as a head coach. So, riddle me this—how was this season a disappointment?


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