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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Depth is no longer an asset for Wildcats

Rebecca Noble / The Daily Wildca
Arizona guard Allonzo Trier, far right, pensively sits on the bench in street clothes during Arizona’s blow-out 86-35 exhibition win over the College of Idaho at McKale Center on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016.

Arizona basketball is reeling after a 51-point victory in its first exhibition game. Three key members of the Wildcats won’t be on the floor anytime soon for varying reasons.

Wildcats down

Allonzo Trier’s status continues to remain a mystery. Tuesday night was the first time he was held out of game action and it gives more validation to the rumors. There are still only rumors swirling about his status and Arizona won’t let members of the media ask head coach Sean Miller questions about his status.

For better or worse, there is clearly something going on, either with the NCAA or internally with the program.

About 10 minutes before tip-off on Tuesday night, Miller released a statement regarding the eligibility of sophomore center Chance Comanche. He has been indefinitely suspended for academic eligibility reasons. Just one day after Miller praised Comanche for how far he has come since last season, he suspended the sophomore for his “own lack of academic responsibility,” and there is no word on when he could become eligible.

Redshirt freshman Ray Smith, on the other hand, announced his retirment Thursday after coming off consecutive ACL tears, one on each knee. Smith suffered a third ACL injury in the Wildcats’ exhibition opener against the College of Idaho on Tuesday, according to Arizona Athletics.

Miller called it heartbreaking for Smith and his family, along with the rest of the team.

Rotation issues

With the loss of three key rotational players, the Wildcats have gone from a 10-man rotation to just seven. Miller commented on how this team does not have depth anymore, and that walk-ons may be relied on early in the season.

The loss of Comanche is bothersome because of how it will affect the frontcourt duo of junior Dusan Ristic and freshman Lauri Markkanen. Early on in the game against the College of Idaho, it was apparent that the pair has developed a chemistry down low and both are exceptional passers for their size. They cause nightmares for any opponent down low, but with Comanche out, Miller will have to stagger their playing time.

Defensive rebounding will be an issue going forward for Arizona. Their current scholarship players consist of three guards, one wing player, and three big men. Freshman Rawle Alkins will be relied on to play small forward early on in the season and Miller hinted that Markkanen will be coached up on how to play the wing.

Starting three guard lineups could benefit Arizona offensively, but the lack of rebounding was evident already against a lesser opponent. The Coyotes had 13 offensive rebounds in the matchup Tuesday night.

Bright spots

Senior Kadeem Allen will be tested as a leader early this season. For a team whose most talented players are three freshmen, it will be up to Allen to make sure that the mindset of the Wildcats stays tough through early adversity.

Allen is a lockdown defender who Miller called the “best defensive player” he’s seen while at Arizona. Allen seems to be up to the task and he could be Arizona’s best player to begin the season.

Adversity can do two things for a team: break it down until the entire team quits on a season, or make it headstrong and push players to new heights.

Arizona’s early test with the Michigan State Spartans is the best way for this team to realize where they are in the process. 

Follow Christopher Deak on Twitter.

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