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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: A look at who will step up to the plate in Tarczewski’s absence

Rebecca Noble
Slut Walk began at the Women’s Plaza of Honor on campus and ended at The Hopyard on 4th Avenue on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015.

Senior center Kaleb Tarczewski came into this season with high expectations and a chance to finish off his collegiate career as the winningest player in Arizona history. Unfortunately, those plans have to be put on hold.

Tarczewski will be sitting out for the next four to six weeks with a stress reaction and strained muscle in his left foot, which he sustained in the second half of Thursday’s overtime victory over Santa Clara.

The fourth-year Wildcat sat out Arizona’s second round loss to Providence and third-place victory over Boise State with the hope he would be able to return soon.

“Anytime you have a guy like [Tarczewski] that has won so many games, and is such a physical presence for us, it’s definitely different out there without him,” Arizona forward Ryan Anderson said after the loss to Providence.

Tarczewski’s presence will undoubtedly be missed during the December and early January stretch of the season. The 7-footer has averaged eight points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes per game this season.

“Our big guy unit is all about playing hard, crashing the glass and being physical,” Anderson said. “It’s something we pride ourselves on. With or without Kaleb, that’s something that we tried to do [against Providence], rebounding especially. Obviously it helps just to have [Tarczewski] in there with us, though.”

Tarczewski’s injury puts head coach Sean Miller in a difficult predicament. After having Tarczewski as a consistent face in the starting lineup the past three seasons, who will be next to step up for Arizona?

Sophomore backup center Dusan Ristic is the most likely option. Throwing Ristic into the spotlight and giving him an early chance to step into the starting role could go a long way in his development.

Ristic has experience in big games and the new role of a starter could help him in the long run for both this season and his collegiate career. The 7-footer was given the start against Providence, where he logged 18 minutes and shot 3-for-5 with six points, five rebounds, two assists and two turnovers.

Tarczewski’s fall could possibly give freshman center Chance Comanche a chance to see an increase in minutes as well. Through seven games, Comanche has played in five and has only logged 18 total minutes, having yet to make a bucket.

Another option, which Miller experimented with during the DirecTV Wooden Legacy, would be playing small ball at the beginning of the game.

Miller placed Elliott Pitts in the starting role for the Boise State rematch, and Pitts logged 28 minutes and scored four points. Ristic played only nine minutes against Boise State.

Guard Allonzo Trier, who is a natural scorer, could also be placed into a smaller sized lineup. Trier is averaging 10 points per game while shooting 45 percent from the field.

The Wildcats’ next test without Tarczewski will be Saturday against No. 13 Gonzaga. Regardless of who starts, Miller wants it to be known that the new starters will have earned it, rather than just handed the opportunity.

“With some of these guys, part of the reason we are shuffling is because it’s not an obvious answer,” Miller said. “There’s a lot more question marks than there are answers. When the answer comes, then I think you’ll see some of these guys solidifying themselves in a greater role. That can’t be given. You have to earn it.”

Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.

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