Wildcats have high potential for success

Arizona's potential for success may be higher than it has ever been. Read on to see why that is, what needs to go right, and much more.

With basketball season right around the corner, Arizona is a team that faces some pretty lofty expectations heading into the season.

The Wildcats' roster is littered with experience and depth and has a trio of seniors that are more than capable of playing at a high level.

In addition,the four newcomers are all expected to be factors this season and while there is always a sense of uncertainty surrounding inexperienced players, they have all come in with good attitudes and fill an immediate need in some fashion.

Even head coach Sean Miller has been impressed with how the youngsters have handled themselves. Miller lauded their early efforts and how they have handled themselves since arriving on campus when discussing them on media day.

"I don't know if I have been around a freshmen group - forget how they are going to do on the court - that has handled themselves better on a daily basis than the four guys we have now," Miller said.

"We are counting on them to contribute. It makes it a lot easier when you watch them work hard every day over a long period of time. Wherever they begin in November, as long as they continue to stay with who they have been to this point, they are going to improve."

The veteran leadership and the highly-touted recruiting class are just two of the reasons many Arizona fans have entered this season with their expectations at an all time high.

Never mind the fact that UA was left out of the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years and then proceeded to wet the bed at home in the NIT to Bucknell of all teams. Wildcat fans see exactly what's in front of them and that's a much better team than last year – at least on paper.

Now it must be translated to the court and with less than a month until the first games that actually count hit, the team has a short period of time to learn how to play together.

The talent is there, but the chemistry needs to be developed and that may take some time with so many new faces on the roster.

There is not a more important newcomer on the roster than Mark Lyons. The transfer guard from Xavier is expected to assume the point guard role and do so seamlessly. If Arizona wants to see a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, Lyons is going to have to lead the charge.

Sure, there is the return of Solomon Hill and the rejuvenation of Kevin Parrom and both will be major factors this season. They both have the experience and necessary knowledge of Miller's system and have improved mightily since they first arrived on campus. Each player is expected to shoulder some of the leadership role considering how much youth is expected to contribute.

Lyons may be more important, however, because he plays arguably the most crucial position on the floor in Miller's scheme and UA has lacked a player of Lyons' caliber in the backcourt since his arrival

For the Wildcats to realize the potential they have and the expectations that have been bestowed upon them, Lyons must live up to the hype that has surrounded him since it was announced he was transferring to Arizona.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this year's Wildcats' basketball team is the stark contrast between the two groups being relied on the most. On one end, you have a trio of seniors who have all experienced the highs and lows of college basketball. They are battle-tested and have the resumé necessary to lead UA to an impressive campaign.

On the flipside, there are four freshmen who have yet to play a game of college basketball. The three big men – Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett – are going to be relied on to fill the massive void UA possessed in the paint, regardless of the fact that they are all true freshmen.

Combo guard Gabe York could be counted on to come off the bench and provide quality minutes behind Lyons, Nick Johnson, Jordin Mayes, and Kevin Parrom.

This is where the seniors have to step up and guide the youth on the roster. There is little concern surrounding the talent the freshmen bring in, but their success on the court is never guaranteed.

If there was something UA has lacked since Miller's arrival, it's this level of quality leadership from its upperclassmen. That is not to take a jab at any previous seniors over the past few seasons, but none of those classes under Miller possessed the combination of skill and experience in Miller's system that this group does.

Everything coming together certainly seems more realistic than it did last year. There was turmoil from the moment the 2011 high school class arrived on campus and it never really cleared up until certain players left the program.

Early indications are that the 2012 high school class has followed the rules and stayed in Miller's good graces.

If everyone stays healthy and this team continues to mesh well when the season hits, 2012-13 could end up being a very memorable year for the Wildcats.

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