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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Why is winning not enough?

Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat UA Wildcats win 71-54 against UC Irvine at McKale Center on November 19, 2014.

They may be on opposite sides of the country, but the Florida State football team and the Arizona men’s basketball team have more in common than you’d think. For starters, both are ranked in the top five of major polls.

Arizona started out the season at No. 2 overall, while FSU started at No. 1 overall. However, both have fallen a couple spots. The biggest criticism of both is, despite remaining undefeated, they play too many close games.

This is absolutely ridiculous and a perfect example of nitpicking. It’s shameful that it’s not good enough to just be undefeated anymore. Teams are expected to not only beat other teams but blow them out of the water.

Florida State, a team that lost seven major players to the 2014 NFL Draft, defeated the Florida Gators this past weekend to remain undefeated. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher spoke to the ESPN media right after the slim 24-19 victory. In short, Fisher said his team found yet another way to win, and they are the only undefeated team left in the country.

However come Monday/Tuesday, being undefeated and riding a 28-game win streak likely won’t be good enough. The new AP poll has the Seminoles at No. 2 overall.

With the college football season winding down and college basketball season picking up, the Arizona Wildcats could be in a similar situation to Florida State — where winning is just not enough.

As mentioned, the Wildcats dropped from No. 2 overall to as low as No. 4. The biggest complaint has been that the UA doesn’t win games impressively. Almost every game has been too close for comfort before late pushes fueled by defensive intensity.

This is the same thing that circled around during last season’s 33-5 run. The Wildcats barely defeated SDSU by nine, Duke by six, Michigan by two, UCLA by four and Utah by nine. It wasn’t as huge of a deal last season, though. The general consensus was that the UA was being stingy defensively and was crafty enough to get things done.

Thus, the lack of consistent offense wasn’t a big deal. With no Nick Johnson or Aaron Gordon this year, it feels like everybody is selling Arizona short. Statistically speaking, the starts to the two seasons aren’t very different.

Through seven games last season, the Wildcats averaged 79.7 points per game and allowed 59.4 PPG. Through seven games this season, the Wildcats are averaging 72.4 PPG and allowing 59.3 PPG. That 7.3 point difference from season to season can surely be placed on who the team played. Dropping 100 points on Farleigh Dickinson and 91 points on Long Beach State is cool but boosts up the stats significantly.

The lack of a go-to scorer is the next complaint. Just last week, former Virginia Tech head coach and current ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg said Arizona doesn’t have enough depth or enough scoring.

When Johnson declared for the NBA, it was clear someone would have to assume the scoring role. Even more clear was that it wouldn’t just be one person. Sean Miller backed that assertion up early this year by saying he wouldn’t be surprised if four or five guys averaged double-digit points per game.

We shouldn’t be shocked if Arizona’s leading scorer ended up being closer to 12 or 13 points rather than 17 or 18 points. And that’s perfectly fine when you factor in a defense that figures to be among the best in the nation.

Interestingly, despite being deeper this season, the Wildcats will likely face an uphill battle to move up to the No. 2 ranking. And that’s not to say No. 4 isn’t great, because it is.

When looking at this year’s roster and schedule, it’s clear that Arizona is going to be in the same boat as last year. The defense will be great, the offense will be decent and the coaching will be outstanding. The system hasn’t changed; the only difference is two starters not being here.

Here’s hoping that this team isn’t penalized this year because it doesn’t blow teams out. Most of the time, it won’t be pretty, as they will scrap and claw their way to most victories. At the end of the day, winning has to stand for something, and this Arizona team is going to win a lot.


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