Q: What’s your take on the Tony Parker situation? I know Ben Howland is saying all the right things, but he still isn’t playing him. He has a history of putting players in his dog house, and really, what incentive does Howland have? He probably won’t be coach next year.
A: I’d be shocked if Tony Parker’s still here next year. He hasn’t explicitly said he’ll leave, but he’s so noncommital about staying that that almost feels like an inevitable formality. He isn’t the best “win-now” option, which does remove most of the incentive for Howland to give him minutes as he tries to keep his job. Parker was limited by some bad health as well, so he should at least start getting double-digit minutes semi-regularly as he gets better/more in shape.
Q: Seems imperative that Howland recruits a frontcourt player or two this year, especially if Tony Parker leaves at the end of the year. The Wears will be seniors and not having an experienced front court player or two for 2015 would be crazy. Any bigs on the recruiting horizon?
A: I believe the only possible big man left for 2013 is three-star PF/C Gavin Schilling, who’s also getting a lot of Big Ten interest right now (Minnesota, Michigan State, Ohio State) in addition to other offers. He’s from Chicago, but plays at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. Four-star PF Craig Victor (St. Augustine, New Orleans) is a major 2014 target, and said last summer that he’ll decide by the end of this junior year. He’s light at around 215 pounds, but still has plenty of time to fill out his 6-foot-8 frame. Some potential 2015 gems are five-star power forward Ivan Rabb (Bishop O’Dowd, Oakland) and five-star center Stephen Zimmerman (Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas).
Q: Is Arizona losing to Oregon good or bad for the Pac-12? It might show that other teams (especially Oregon) are better than most people thought, or do you think it just shows that Arizona is not as good as their ranking indicated and the Pac-12 is again in a down year?
A: That game shouldn’t hurt the perception of the Pac-12. Oregon is talented and well-coached, and will likely hang around the edges of the AP poll all season. Arizona wasn’t a top-five team, however, and a loss was bound lot come eventually (as Pat Forde pointed out at Yahoo! Sports). The conference is clearly better than it has been in recent years, but it still isn’t great. Can’t put it ahead of the Big Ten, Big East, ACC or Mountain West.
Q: Are the injuries David Wear had earlier in the season still affecting his play?
A: No. Neither the sprained ankle nor the sore back seem to be lingering.
Q: Who do you see as the backup QB next year? Are T.J. Millweard and Jerry Neuheisel still on the team?
A: Jerry Neuheisel probably has the edge after spending this season on the scout team. Millweard is indeed still on the team, as is walk-on Mike Fafaul. Devin Fuller has said several times that he still sees his future at quarterback, but he’s probably too useful as a receiver to spend most of his time holding a clipboard.
Q: What are the differences in responsibilities between guard and tackle? What are the differences in physical attributes between a good guard and a good tackle?
A: Tackles need to be a little more concerned with fending off pass rushes, especially on the left as anyone who read/saw “The Blind Side” knows by now. (The Sandra Bullock voiceovers still make me laugh.) Guards’ pass protection duties usually aren’t as complicated, but need to be mobile enough to pull as a lead run blocker. Tackles tend to be taller, while guards have lower centers of gravity. Long arms are particularly useful for the former since they need to deal with speed rushers on the edge. These characteristics can blur, and there are talented players like Xavier Su’a-Filo who can easily play both. UCLA used him and Jeff Baca at guard, using their athleticism to help the run game.
Q: Do you think our football team is better next year despite tougher schedule? It seems like the UCLA chancellor really likes Dan Guerrero. What would it take for Guerrero to get canned?
A: I think the team will be better in terms of actual skill, but if you’re asking whether or not they can improve their record, then probably not. The trips to Nebraska, Stanford and Oregon are brutal, though the Bruins do get a bye week before heading to Lincoln. I’m generally pessimistic with projections though. They could 10 with a better bowl game draw, but it’s hard to envision that many wins in the regular season. Maybe if the run game is solidified early.
The Jim Mora hire should keep Guerrero around for a bit.