Head coach Tim O'Shea is in his fourth year transitioning Bryant to Division I status and membership in the Northeast Conference after a seven year stint at Ohio University. The Bulldogs won't become full members of the Northeast Conference until 2012-13, and O'Shea has worked over the past four years to prepare them for when that time comes.
In the meantime, 2011-12 has not been too kind to the Bulldogs, who will play one more non-conference game against Lehigh before opening up conference play. O'Shea does have a good core of players, but he has had problems and inconsistencies with the supporting cast surrounding them.
Like O'Shea, 6-foot-3, 185-pound junior Frankie Dobbs came to Bryant by way of Ohio University. The junior is the team's leader in minutes at 36.6 per game, and in that time he averages 12.6 points on 39.3 percent shooting in addition to 4.1 rebounds and a team-leading 4.5 assists per game.
Dobbs is also shooting 36.3 percent from the three-point line, and is one of three Bryant players that will have the green light to shoot throughout the game. If there's an opening, Dobbs will surely look to make something happen, forcing Arizona to key in on preventing him from easy looks.
Handling the ball for the Bulldogs is 6-foot-3, 185-pound point guard Corey Maynard, who spent the summer honing his skills as a representative for his native Australia in the 2011 World University Games.
As a sophomore, Maynard is second on the team in scoring and rebounding, putting up 12.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest. He also ranks just behind Dobbs in assists, dishing out 3.8 per outing.
He's also the team's primary threat from beyond the arc, hitting on 39.7 percent of his three-point tries and 44 percent of his shot attempts overall in 35.8 minutes per game. Much like Dobbs, Maynard will look to exploit openings and is a guard that is looking primarily to score.
The team's best player is undoubtedly 6-foot-6, 205-pound forward Alex Francis, who was voted as the 2010-11 Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year after leading Bryant in both scoring and rebounds with 14.8 points and eight rebounds per contest.
Francis has improved his statistics as a sophomore, and in 32.7 minutes per game is the team's leading scorer and rebounder at 17.4 points on 49 percent shooting and eight boards per contest. He'll be Bryant's go to guy from start to finish on Thursday night, and Arizona should be well-equipped to match him with some combination of Solomon Hill, Jesse Perry, or Kevin Parrom.
If Bryant is going to keep the game close, it's going to be entirely on the shoulders of the trio of Dobbs, Maynard, and Francis. After those three, things become much less clear as to where the contributions will come from, which is a huge factor in why the Bulldogs have dropped 10 of 11 this season.
To round out the starting lineup, 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior Daniel Calandrillo will likely get the nod. Appearing in all 11 of the team's game's this season, including three starts, and averages two points in 13.6 minutes of action.
A freshman in his first year with the program after coming to Bryant by way of his native Israel, 6-foot-10, 225-pound freshman Ben Altit will likely make his third start of the season against Arizona. In 15.8 minutes, Altit averages just 4.1 points per game, and despite being the tallest player the Bryant roster, just 1.9 rebounds.
Although he did not start the team's last game against Boston College, Claybrin McMath is definitely the team's fourth best player and has started eight of Bryant's 11 games this year. In 20.8 minutes per game, the 6-foot-8, 210-pound sophomore is averaging 5.9 points on 41.3 percent shooting and three rebounds per game.
With the exception of those six players, no other Bryant player has appeared in every contest, displaying O'Shea's willingness to go with his starters and players with the hot hand.
The game against Bryant will do virtually nothing for Arizona's tournament chances, but it's a good chance for Sean Miller's team to really focus on detail and give players like Angelo Chol and Josiah Turner much needed minutes. Once UA has a comfortable margin, look for the game to become about teaching and growth, something the Wildcats will definitely benefit from with Pac-12 play less than two weeks away.