Christmas arrived early this year when Coach Sean Miller approached the microphone for Arizona Basketball Media Day. With his first words during his press conference, everyone knew basketball season was back once again and ready to take the Pac-12 title again. Arizona is coming in full of force with key players returning this season including Gabe York and Kaleb Tarczewski, plus Boston College transfer, Ryan Anderson. With their combined experience of college basketball on and off the court, Miller believes these players will be this year's leaders.
This season brings in some new players to look out for at McKale, including some dynamic freshman. Allonzo Trier, a 6'4" freshman, "is one of the easiest players to coach and is pure guard" said Miller, "He leans on the older players for support which is a necessary component in order to develop a leader". Justin Simon, a 6'5" freshman, "has a lot of potential and is here for the right reason" says Miller, "when he becomes a great defender, it’ll happen for him”.
Ray Smith, another freshman introduced by Miller this past Friday. Miller said "despite his previous injury, he is now back on track and will be a completely different player come Christmas"
Although we tend to focus on these athletes as purely athletes, they are also students who excel off the court as much as on the court. Kadeem Allen, a junior college transfer, will come out of Arizona not only a better basketball player, but also as a star student with a degree to match. Though some basketball players are criticized for staying through their senior season, they have to be commended for sticking to through to get a degree. Senior Kaleb Tarczewski is not only an athlete with undeniable professional basketball promise, but he is a remarkable student as well who chose to stay at Arizona to receive his bachelor’s degree.
Academics is something that ties student athletes and our student fans together because at the end of the day we are all working towards a common goal. That is one of the reasons why student sections at universities throughout the country are so passionate about the game. The ZonaZoo in particular though, is one that is impossible to forget. Sean Miller even attested to this on Friday when he said "There aren't a lot of teams that want to play us in a home and away series...one of those reasons is our rabid student section in the ZonaZoo and fans that really know great basketball". This is no surprise to us though, as we know how insane the Zoo gets when the opposing teams steps into McKale. (i.e. that one time Gonzaga missed three free throws in a row while facing the Zoo, resulting in a loss to Arizona).
But what can we say? We’re students who know great basketball and we’re loud and proud about it!
So suit up ZonaZoo, it’s basketball season and THIS is Arizona