So, you didn’t think Arizona would win the Maui Classic … did you?
In fact, it went as well as could be expected and/or anticipated given the Wildcats were able to pull off a first-round win over Iowa State. Hell, it was better than last season’s 0-3 performance in the Bahamas. But that was last year and, well, this year’s team isn’t last year’s team on many – if any – levels … for good and bad.
But this is what we know about Arizona six games in: it’s good enough to beat the Houston Baptists of the world and not good enough to defeat teams in the upper half of the top five.
Heck, who is?
That said, Arizona is somewhere in the middle, so the mystery will continue just how good or not good the Wildcats are. The mystery might not be solved for the next few months.
But what was there to like about Arizona in the islands? Well, not a lot but senior guard Justin Coleman has emerged as being more than the team leader. He proved – maybe by necessity – that he can score near the basket and far, given he hit 14 threes many of which were very deep and in crucial spots. He scored 62 points in the three games.
PG Justin Coleman's line from Maui: 62 points, 14 of 26 3-pointers. #ArizonaWildcats
Arizona can play for moments – and minutes – with some of the best basketball teams for more than half the game … but there are 40 minutes to a game and that’s going to be trouble for a team lacking in quality depth that at times is similar to the starters the team has.
That could easily lead to problems all season. Actually, it will be a problem all year. Even with just a three-game sample size it’s very apparent UA’s bench is lacking in offense and defense. Emmanuel Akot, Ira Lee, Alex Barcello and more hardly shook anyone in their sneakers when they went into the game.
It got so bad head coach Sean Miller said he’ll take another look at how guard Devonaire Doutrive can help. And that from a player that didn’t play in Maui.
Tough times call for tough measures. But, it’s still early in the season so there’s that.
Granted the double-digit losses – most recently a 91-74 loss to Auburn – are to high-quality teams, but in order to prove your worth you eventually have to face these types of teams during the season. Arizona’s chance came early. Of course, Arizona won’t have to play these types the rest of the season given Arizona’s schedule is on the weaker side and the Pac-12 Conference is hardly a menacing bunch.
So, there’s always hope UA can sneak a game or two or three in the winner’s column in the Pac-12. Until then, it’ll face Georgia Southern, Connecticut. Utah Valley, Alabama, Baylor, Montana and UC-Davis before the Pac-12 begins.