No. 11: Arizona Wildcats

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Midnight Madness is Friday. So we’re kicking off our college basketball coverage with our men’s preseason Top 25. Look for five teams posted a day, all this week.

2010-11 record: 30-8 (14-4), 1st in Pac-10
Lost in Elite Eight

Coach: Sean Miller, 46-23, 3rd year (166-70 overall)

Last NCAA miss: 2010

2011-12 roster [click here]
2011-12 schedule [click here]
2010-11 team stats [click here]

The good: Those 30 wins weren’t all because of Derrick Williams. Yes, Williams damn near set the tempo-free world on its ears in 2010-11, but he was backed by a young, athletic group – that also lit it up from beyond the arc. And the talent level got a boost once the new freshmen arrived.

Juniors Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom are ideal wings; able to guard multiple positions and willing to rebound. Sophomore Jordin Mayes is their top outside shooter and senior Kyle Fogg is a steady presence. Add freshmen Josiah Turner – the likely starting point guard – Nick Johnson and Angelo Chol to the mix and it’s a team that’ll only get better as the season wears on.

Kinda like the 2010-11 version.

The bad: It’s not like replacing Williams will be simple. He was their best frontcourt player and delivered in the clutch. And while Momo Jones would be infuriating, he was a capable distributor.

Which is to say, does Arizona have a go-to guy? There’s talent, sure. And plenty of guys who can shoot. But how many of them can hit that shot? Or make that block? And do it while playing hurt?

Maybe adjusting to life without Williams will be easier than most expect. Maybe the Wildcats will mesh as a team and won’t need that go-to guy. It’s happened before. But this can’t be easy.

The unknown: The post-Williams era would undoubtedly be easier if Miller knew what Parrom’s playing future would be.

Parrom, the victim of a shooting in September, might miss the season due to that gunshot wound. If he does return (which seems probable), there’s no telling how his game will be affected. Will he struggle with his stroke? Have the same bounce in his step?

Honestly, I wanted to place Arizona about five spots higher until I heard this about Parrom. He’s just one player who was Arizona’s fifth-leading scorer last season, but he was one of their most efficient. His role can be filled. But this was just one more obstacle the ‘Cats didn’t need.

Counting down the preseason Top 25

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