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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


It’s only a matter of time for Sean Miller, Arizona men’s basketball

Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat

With Arizona’s roster almost set in stone for next year’s basketball campaign, head coach Sean Miller and his staff have to think about what to do with the talent that lies before them.

This, of course, includes the amount of minutes Miller allocates to each player come next season.

Miller has some tough decisions to make, but he has some versatility with the roster. He has multiple players who could see time at different positions, allowing him to tinker with the game-to-game lineup.

The backcourt is where the difficulty arises because of the depth. Returners Kadeem Allen, Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Allonzo Trier will see their time shared with incoming freshmen Kobi Simmons, Rawle Alkins and Terrance Ferguson.

Chance Comanche and Dusan Ristic are joined in the frontcourt by Lauri Markkanen and Ray Smith, who is returning from an ACL injury and can play either the three or the four spot.

This 10-man roster is deep and has the potential for a deep run in next year’s NCAA Tournament. So, how should Miller give minutes to his young, talented players?

Miller will experiment early on, as he does every year when the team is new. The incoming team has more depth than he has had in seasons past, so Miller should think about utilizing this depth and giving more minutes to the bench players as well.

Arizona has seen its starting five receive most of the minutes during the end of Pac-12 Conference play, the conference tournament and the big dance. A couple of players, like Gabe York two years ago, would get a strong bulk of minutes off of the bench, but others see the floor for only a few minutes during the game.

Next year’s starting lineup could take a while to figure out because of how versatile all of its players will be. A lineup of Simmons, Trier, Smith, Markkanen and Comanche gives Miller a strong group of athletes.

Allen could return to his natural spot off the bench as a shooting guard, and Ferguson or Alkins could find their way into the starting lineup at some point thanks to their scoring abilities. The lineup can be shifted into a small-ball look or Miller could choose to go big with Ristic at the center. The possibilities are truly endless.

Because these options are so prominent, Miller needs to even out his minutes more so as to get a better idea of what this team is capable of. Players like Alkins, who is listed as 6-foot-5 and a swing two-three, need this time to find out where they fit.

By evening out these minutes, Miller would keep players fresh as well. John Calipari, the head man at Kentucky, normally platoons his lineups, keeping certain players together at all times and giving them an even amount of rest.

Miller might want to take a look at this option early on, but he shouldn’t be afraid to mix and match players, either. There will be a lot of young talent to move around on the team next season, however, each player will need a fair amount of time to find out where they will work best.

Miller has plenty of time before now the start of the season to get a good look at who is playing well. But with all of this talent, it would be tough to see a scenario where he doesn’t give each player a substantial amount of minutes.

Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter

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