Rodgers' rise key to Bynum's departure

Will "The Thrill" Bynum decided recently to transfer from Arizona to Oklahoma State. Although it is always unfortunate to lose a player from your team, Bynum's transfer alleviates a great deal of pressure from the coaches and guards. Will was one of my favorite Wildcats, but his departure answers many questions I had about the future of this team.

One can only assume that next year the playing time at the guard positions will be earned in practices. The Cats will have four guards and, if they ever want to play at the NBA or another professional level, all will be point guards. With the departure of Jason Gardner, the most likely candidate for the starting point guard for the 2003-04 season is Mustafa Shakur. Lute Olson has called Shakur the best point guard to come to Arizona so far. Whether Shakur will be able to match the greatness of Damon Stoudamire, Mike Bibby and Jason Terry remains to be seen.

If Will Bynum were still at Arizona next year, he would be yet another point battling for playing time. The only criticism analysts ever have about ‘Zona teams is whether all of the talent can be balanced. Had Bynum stayed, even I would have had reservations about whether there would be too many guards on this very talented squad.

Earlier this season there was speculation Chris Rodgers might transfer. With Bynum's departure, and Rodgers back in the guard rotation, one can be more assured that Rodgers is here to stay. Because of his great on-the-ball defense, Rodgers had recently bypassed Bynum in the rotation. Rodgers' effort at the defensive end of the court sends a strong message to players coming into Arizona's program: if you work hard, especially on defense, the playing time will come.

With Cats depth at the guard positions, and with Shakur coming in next season and a verbal from Jawann McClellan from the Class of 2005, the challenge for the UA coaching staff is to keep everyone happy. Bynum's transfer sends a message that no one is safe from pine time.

It's unfortunate that things did't work out for Bynum at Arizona. Because of his exceptional offensive skills, Bynum is one player I would not want the ‘Cats to face in years to come. However, Rodgers' extended playing time could be a positive example for future Wildcats.

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