Colorado is in the middle of a brutal opening Pac-12 schedule and will play the No. 17 Arizona Wildcats in Tuscon. To preview this game, David Potts at Arizona Desert Swarm was kind enough to answers some questions. To see their side of the Q&A, you can read that here.
1.) Arizona didn't return much production last year -- Anderson, York and Zeus graduated, Trier hasn't played yet this season -- but the team has seemed to improve. How has Arizona been able to take that next step while losing so much from last season?
A lot of contributions from freshmen. Arizona has had talented freshmen - Aaron Gordon and Stanley Johnson are the most recent and obvious examples - but I can't remember Arizona having a freshman class that all contributed right away. Lauri Markkanen has wasted no time acclimating to the college game and is already Arizona's best player. Rawle Alkins is already starting to show flashes of his Rondae Hollis-Jefferson-sequel potential (complete with the offensive rebounding and occasional missed putbacks). And Kobi Simmons has instantly become a force on defense and in transition. Arizona lost a lot, to be sure, but these freshmen have made the transition much, much easier.
2.) Arizona has as good of a freshman class as any team in the country, save for maybe Duke or Kentucky. With Rawle Alkins, Lauri Markkanen and Kobi Simmons in vital roles, has Arizona experienced many Freshman moments that could endanger them against a struggling team like Colorado that could easily be overlooked?
Shockingly, no. There are still lapses - Texas A&M almost came back from a 20 point deficit - but those are primarily related to the Wildcats' depth issues and lack of a healthy point guard (while Parker Jackson-Cartwright was out or limited).
In fact, the most impressive thing about these freshmen is how quickly they've adjusted to the college game. Maybe it's related to Arizona's depth issues, as Sean Miller has had no choice but to let them play through their mistakes, but I don't expect to see many mental lapses by these freshmen on Saturday.
3.) What are Arizona's main weaknesses offensively and defensively? Colorado doesn't do very well against sweet-shooting or physical teams and they struggle mightily if they can't three-pointers.
Arizona's primary weaknesses — on both offense and defense — all boil down to Arizona's lack of depth. Because the Wildcats have only eight available scholarship players, they have to go out of their way to play at a slower pace and avoid foul trouble. As a result, playing faster and playing physical to try to draw contact and fouls could cause problems for Arizona.
That's much easier said than done - Arizona would love to play faster given its talent and athleticism, and if Allonzo Trier returned, this formula would probably cause teams to get routed. But attacking Arizona's lack of depth is probably the Buffaloes' best bet.
4.) Lastly, where does Sean Miller generate his demonic powers? I've always assumed he's a subterranean goblin king or he made a deal with the Devil himself (or he is the Devil himself), but I'm not entirely sure. Has he disclosed this with any Arizona writers?
This is confidential information he has shared only with assistant Book Richardson and Bill Walton. The Arizona desert has its share of secrets, and we can't go sharing them all.