Arizona led Washington at halftime on Saturday and seemed to carry a little bit of momentum into halftime after a put-back dunk by Solomon Hill gave the Wildcats a three-point advantage at the break. What UA and its fans were unaware of is that one of Arizona's key players had just suffered a severe foot injury.
Junior forward Kevin Parrom – who has endured more emotional and physical hardships than a normal human being should have to encounter in less than a year – was dealt another blow when he fractured a bone in his right foot; an injury that will force him to miss the rest of the season.
The injury couldn't have come at a worse time for the Wildcats. Parrom appeared to be returning to the player Wildcats' fans got to know towards the end of last year. He had begun to play with more confidence and it was translating into positive results on the basketball floor. Now that Parrom will no longer be available, UA must find a way to pick up the pieces and move on in what has been a roller coaster of a season.
Parrom's recent production on the floor provided hope for Arizona fans as the team was coming off of one of its strongest performances of the campaign against Washington State. The team required more production from its upperclassmen and Parrom's play of late hinted that he could be in line for a big stretch run.
Unfortunately for the junior, he will not able to assist Arizona the rest of the way and now the squad must figure out how to come up with the on-floor production Parrom could have provided down the stretch. The Wildcats need to figure it out as soon as possible as the mid-point of the conference slate has arrived. It is a bunched group at the top and Arizona is going to find it difficult to fight through the competition without its most important reserve available.
Now everyone else must step up even more.
The play of Solomon Hill on Saturday was encouraging. He was able to come up big for UA, scoring 28 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in an effort to pick up the slack for the loss of Parrom. Outside of Hill, however, the rest of the squad struggled.
Players such as Hill, Nick Johnson, Brendon Lavender and Kyle Fogg are going to be counted on to increase their level of play. Hill is already assuming the role of a power forward, but with Parrom's absence, he must take over the small forward duties as well. Hill may be a natural three, but he is already bombarded with the pressure of being an undersized power forward and now he will be counted on even more in what is likely to be an expanded role.
That's where the other wing players must come through.
Not to put too much pressure on a freshman, but Johnson has to find the success he had in the early portion of the season. Without Parrom, someone must be able to knock down shots from outside as well as provide a threat to attack the basket and Johnson can do both. He certainly has the natural talent to help Arizona overcome the loss of Parrom, but now the guard must figure out a way to put it all back together quickly.
Seniors Fogg – the team's second leading scorer – and Lavender will have to come provide more production and leadership. They are both deadly shooters from beyond the three-point arc and will need to assume more of the responsibility from deep as Parrom was a threat to connect from long range, despite experiencing difficulty with consistency with his shot.
While Parrom was averaging less than five points per game at the time of his injury, the numbers don't signify what the forward meant to his team. Not only was Parrom's production trending in an upward direction, but his presence alone provided an emotional boost for the rest of his team. His story since the end of last season has been well documented and his latest injury is just the most recent chapter of his nearly year-long saga.
Arizona is only two games off the lead at this point and its postseason chances are starting to look bleaker by the day. Losing Parrom is just going to make the rest of the run that much more difficult, but Arizona can serve the Bronx native proud by regrouping and making a run back into contention.
Wildcats challenged by loss of Parrom
Wildcat Authority Top Stories
Authority Report: Wildcats not done yetThis week's Authority Report discusses Ira Lee, Lonnie Walker, and more.
Wildcat AuthorityYesterday at 10:22 PM
Highlights: Ira LeeCheck out the video of Arizona's newest commit.
Wildcat AuthorityYesterday at 1:45 PM
10/19 Football Notebook: Arizona's Bye WeekRich Rodriguez discusses bye week practice, quarterbacks, and more.
Wildcat AuthorityWednesday at 9:10 PM
Authority Report: Does UA lead for Graham?This week's Authority Report discusses Thomas Graham's recruitment and more.
Wildcat AuthorityWednesday at 8:50 PM
Ira Lee is a WildcatIra Lee has committed to Arizona. Read on for the latest.
Wildcat AuthorityWednesday at 11:14 AM