Arizona cannot seem to find their way out of the controversy.
Last season was mired by the ongoing Allonzo Trier saga, as the will-he-play, won’t-he-play story dragged out for the first three months of the season. After losing to No. 11 seed Xavier in the Sweet 16, Arizona’s offseason was flipped on its head when assistant coach Book Richardson was fired after he was arrested in the FBI’s probe into corruption in college basketball.
Then Rawle Alkins broke his foot. Then Jahvon Quinerly decommitted because of his involvment in the scandal. Then another assistant coach was suspended, as was Keanu Pinder.
It’s been exhausting to be a Wildcat.
And none of that slowed Trier down during the first weekend of the season.
The competition was not great, to put it nicely, but Trier still managed to post back-to-back 30-burgers, going for 32 points on 13 shots in the season-opening win over Northern Arizona and following that up with 30 points in a win over UMBC. Trier looked as good as he has in his Arizona career. He seems to have lost some weight, streamlined his body and added a bit of explosiveness.
He also looks like a player that’s on a mission, a guy that has a point to prove this year.
There’s no way he’s going to keep putting up 30 point games every night, but if he can find a way to stay anywhere near this pace, we’re looking at a guy that will be a favorite for the National Player of the Year award and the leader of a team that looks ready to finally get Sean Miller to a Final Four.
THE ALL-‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM
- KENDRICK NUNN, Oakland: Playing in his first game for the Golden Grizzlies, the redshirt senior and Illinois transfer went for a career-high 36 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists in an 85-71 win over New Orleans on Friday night. That’s not a bad way to make a debut.
- TEMPLE GIBBS, Notre Dame: With Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell getting all of the attention for Notre Dame, it was Gibbs that made all the plays down the stretch as the Irish pulled away late from DePaul in a season-opener on the road. He finished with 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting with three assists and four threes.
- GENO CRANDALL, North Dakota: Crandall scored 41 points, including 37 in the second half, as North Dakota knocked off Troy, 83-80, on Friday night in a tournament in Hawai’i. He also added six boards and five assists. On Sunday night, he followed that up with 21 points and, through two games, is averaging 31.0 points while shooting 20-for-29 from the floor and 11-for-14 from three.
- LUKE MAYE, North Carolina: Playing without Joel Berry II in the season-opener and moving into a starting role for the first time in his UNC career, Maye quelled the fears of anxious Tar Heel fans by posting 26 points and 10 boards in a relatively easy win over a solid Northern Iowa program.
- MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: Bagley sure did live up to the hype. In two games this weekend, he averaged 24.5 points and 10 boards while forming a dominant front court tandem with Wendell Carter. He’ll have his work cut out for him on Tuesday night going up against the front line of Michigan State.