There has been a lot of change at Arizona over the past few months, with several players and even a coach leaving the program. Replacing assistant James Whitford, who became head coach at Ball State, was easy: Wildcat legend Damon Stoudamire came back home to round out the staff.
But the personnel situation on the court is still troubling. Counting walk-ons, Arizona has lost seven players from last season’s roster, including Grant Jerrett, who went pro, and once-heralded Angelo Chol, who took his talents to San Diego State in search of more playing time.
There’s been a little in-flux as well, with Zach Peters transferring in from Kansas, and top freshman Aaron Gordon ready to step up. But head coach Sean Miller still has plenty of spots left to fill before he reaches his scholarship allotment of 13 players. Some coaches might be sweating that number. Not Miller, according to the Arizona Star.
“Just because you have the number 13, I don’t know if that’s as important as it once was,” Miller said. “To me it’s more intelligent that anyone you add to your program has to be a contributor and there has to be a reason you do it. You don’t want to just fill in the scholarship void to add depth. That’s not going to work because that person you’re talking about will end up leaving for sure.”
Miller ought to know. He lost Chol to playing time issues, and gained Peters for much the same reason. He may be wiser to bank a scholarship to use a season from now rather than fill a roster spot with someone who will end up being disgruntled.
And yet, injuries happen, and embracing a short bench can backfire. It’s a safe bet that Miller has a few more moves he’ll make this offseason. The addition of a well-known former player like Stoudamire on the recruiting trail should help draw in some talent.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Tonight’s bubble action. This post will be updated as the games are completed.
Cincinnati at UCF, 7:00 p.m.
Pitt at No. 12 Miami, 7:00 p.m.
No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
Ole Miss at Florida, 9:00 p.m.
Georgia at No. 22 Kentucky, 9:00 p.m.
Arkansas at Mississippi State, 9:00 p.m.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.
The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.
We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
- Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
- Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
- Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
- No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
- No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.