After a successful off-season consisting of the third best recruiting class in the nation, including three of the Wildcats current starters, fourth year head coach, Sean Miller set some high expectations for his team. So far, the Wildcats have lived up to the hype with an untarnished 10-0 record, ranking them fourth in the nation.
The Wildcats are led by senior point guard, Mark Lyons who transferred from Xavier to re-unite with his former coach, Sean Miller. The other leader and the only other senior in the starting line-up, Solomon Hill, is predicted to be the Pac-12 Player of the Year.
However, the most impressive and exciting part about the Wildcat basketball team this year is their youth and talent. Despite having two freshman in the starting line-up, Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley, alongside sophomore Nick Johnson, Arizona has proven their maturity on the court by winning a few close games, including their one-point victory over No.5 Florida.
The biggest obstacle for Arizona this season will be consistently improving their team chemistry. In order for them to continue their success as one of the best teams in the nation, they will have to further improve on learning to play together.
Their talent is simply enough to get buy many of the mediocre Pac-12 teams, however in order to make a run in the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats will have to beat teams by playing as a team because of their lack of one single “stand-out” player.
Two years ago, it was Derrick Williams who was the “go-to” player for Arizona and he eventually took them to the Elite Eight. But this year is a very different one and the Wildcats are a completely different team.
Looking forward, the Cats have a fairly easy schedule as they don’t face any ranked opponents. The remainder of their schedule consists solely of conference games.
This is both a positive and a negative for the Wildcats. It’s a positive because it should allow them to gain confidence and rack up wins, giving them a high seed in the NCAA tournament. In addition, they should be able to work on all aspects of their game while not having to worry about their record.
It’s a negative in that it doesn’t expose the Wildcats to championship-caliber teams until it’s a single elimination tournament, which just happens to be the pinnacle of college basketball.
Although the Wildcats are currently fourth best in the nation, they have a lot to work on in order to be considered a championship worthy team. Luckily, Miller and the Cats know that. Already ten games in, Arizona is poised to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament and are hoping to make this season, a long one.