Notes from Wonderland: Jan. 15

Brad Allis

I was less concerned than most about the Oregon game. The Cats gave a legit top-10 team all they could handle on the road and should have won. Although there were some dubious coaching decisions to be sure, the real reason the Wildcats lost was there lack of experience and inability to take care of the ball down the stretch. Quite simply, they wilted under the pressure. It was the opposite of their other losses where they struggled early then made furious comebacks down the stretch…

The loss at Oregon State is a whole different beast. The Wildcats were bad. Corvallis has always been a tough place to play for Arizona, but I have never seen Beaver team blow out the Wildcats. Even worse, they looked disinterested at times. Down the stretch I have never seen an Arizona team play so careless. How many of those late turnovers were due to carelessness?

Oregon State #1_Soobum Im

For years I have felt that Oregon State has played beneath their talent level. They always seem to have a few intriguing pieces and some young guys who are just never quite as good as you think they should be. This team almost seems like they are overachieving. They have some really good players to be sure, it is hard not to like Tinkle, Hollins and Thompson, but several of their guys look like they got picked up from an intramural league and Payton Dastrup looks like he was playing in a 35 over league…

Josh Green was minus 28 in the game. I am not sure how that happens…

I think the thing that frustrates me most about this team is an overall lack of toughness. Physical and mental toughness. That is why the Wildcats keep getting outrebounded. That is why they struggle for 50-50 balls. That is why they foul three-point shooters. That is why they have long stretches where they don’t play well…

I have seen Sean Miller come under a lot of fire of late. Some of it is warranted. Maybe a lot of it. One thing that is asinine is that Miller is a “bad coach.” You can’t do what he has done in his career, four Elite Eights, eight league titles, 275 wins, invites to coach Team USA if you are a bad coach. The problem is that 11 years into his run at Arizona he has not taken the next step. He has not evolved. He has not gone from good coach, to very good coach, to great coach. He is only 16 years into his head coaching career. 16 years into his head coaching career Lute Olson was still at Long Beach City College, but Lute did evolve. Guys like Mark Few evolved. Few did not get past the Sweet 16 until his 16 season as a head coach and did not make the Final Four until year 19. The big question is whether Miller will evolve, and if he does, will it be at Arizona…

The idea that Miller is only a recruiter is also silly in my opinion. While Miller has struggled the past few NCAA Tournaments, he has still made deep runs, even if they were not deep enough. Lorenzo Romar stockpiled NBA talent and never made it past the Sweet 16. Hell, he failed to make the NCAA Tournament his final six seasons at Washington despite having six NBA first round draft picks. Steve Alford had plenty of talent, he never made it past the Sweet 16. Steve Lavin? One Elite Eight (though he also made four other Sweet 16’s). Again, to me it is not whether Miller can coach, but will he ever evolve as a coach to take it to the next level…

KEvin Sumlin #4_Casey Sapio 2019

Switching gears to football. I like the staff additions Kevin Sumlin made but I fear they are too late. Really good X’s and O’s guys and good teachers are important, but the talent hole may be too great. Rich Rodriguez did not leave a ton of talent and Sumlin has not done enough to replenish that talent gap…

To me the biggest criticism of Sumlin’s recruiting has been all the in-state misses. While you can excuse missing out on a Bijan Robinson or a Jason Harris, you cannot miss out on ALL the key in-state recruits. You had Robinson, Lathan Ransom and Bruno Fina in your backyard. Harris has two parents who were alums and his brother is on the team, yet you not only lost him to a conference rival, but a conference rival who was just 5-7 last season. This is not losing Robinson to Texas or Ransom to Ohio State. You lost a legacy recruit to Colorado. As I understand it the staff did not love Fina, but when you have a lack of depth on the lines, you have a legacy recruit who has a lot of love for the program and you are having trouble filling scholarships, you have to make the effort. Even worse for Sumlin, he recruited Phoenix well at Texas A&M, but cannot get a sniff from the likes of Kelee Ringo, Jacobe Covington or Damian Sellers. At least Mike Stoops would have been in the mix. Stoops and his staff were at least able to keep local kids interested in the program, even if they did not land all of them…

In good recruiting news Arizona landed a really nice running back in Frank Brown. He had legit offers and 247Sports ranks him as a top-12 all purpose back. The problem? Running back is the one position the Cats appear to have legit depth at…

This weekend the Women’s basketball team dropped two games to ranked teams and have lost three straight to ranked teams. Guess what? No one is down on the program or Barnes. Why? Other than the obvious bright future the program possesses, Barnes is engaging, forthcoming and she and her players are approachable. Heck, they even signed autographs after the tough loss to Oregon State. The football program, and even the basketball program, can learn something from Barnes…

Comments

Basketball

FEATURED
COMMUNITY