1. The present and the future
This Sunday will feature the present point guard, Mark Lyons, a senior who transferred from Xavier last year. Interestingly enough, this Sunday will also feature the future point guard of Arizona, T.J. McConnell, a junior transfer from Duquesne who has to sit out this season but can participate in the scrimmage. This will be the only opportunity we will get to see McConnell this year. Watch, refreshingly, as these two experienced veterans work the floor. Point Guard U might be back.
2. The point guard position
Speaking of point guard, remember the inexperienced knucklehead and extreme dissapointment who was already looking at the NBA draft before his college career even began and highly contributed to sinking Arizona’s Tournament Bid Ship by being suspended from Pac-12 Tournament play (Josiah Turner, who is probably currently playing street ball somewhere in remote eastern Europe)? Yeah, we won’t have that this year. Instead, we will have an expereienced veteran in Lyons (15 points and 3 assists per game last season) whose sole focus is Arizona basketball success, not personal future stardom. Instead of making players like Nick Johnson have to play point guard in order to make up for Turner’s lackadaisical play or complete absence all together, players like Nick Johnson will get to excel by playing their natural positions.
Speaking of natural positions, Arizona appears finally to have size, which means that 1. players will finally get to play their natural positions instead of grabbing one jersey size too big to make up for the lack of size and 2. we will no longer have to freak out when a big man starts facing foul trouble. Our “big man” last year was Jesse Perry, who stood at a mere 6’7″ and had to go into Hulk mode underneath the basket. This year we welcome Brandon Ashley (6’8″), Grant Jerrett (6’10″) and true center Kaleb “Zeus” Tarczewski (7’0″), all freshmen who are anticipated to make immediate impacts on the team. Add returning sophomore Angelo Chol (6’9″) who made excellent progress last season and it looks as though we have grown quite a few inches from las year.
Lack of size last year made it difficult to produce points in the paint and players were often forced to eithe drive and get blocked or create bad shots from outside. This year’s size will create a true threat down low, increasing the ability to drive to the bucket and kick it out to shooters on the outside.
It gets better. Jordin Mayes and Kevin Parrom, who were riddled with injuries last year, expect to be back and in full health. The injuries of those two combined with the disciplinary problems of Turner and Sidiki Johnson made depth a serious issue. This season, however, the newcomers appear to have their heads on straight. We now have a competent substitute for every position on the floor and then some, which not only means more production during games, but also means better competition during practice.
Get ready. The excitement starts this Sunday.