What worries me most about the 2014-15 college basketball season? To be totally honest, it’s that I won’t be able to get a reservation at St. Elmo Steak House in Indianapolis during Final Four weekend. If you’ve been there and seen the size of the shrimp in the shrimp cocktail, you understand the worry.
Aside from my stomach’s fear that it will have to suffer with second-rate steak, there is no shortage of big questions for the upcoming season. That’s always the case. If we had all the answers, we’d just hand out a trophy and a pair of scissors and station the ladder under the net.
But if you want to quantify the big ones -- the worries that might really impact this season -- you need to go to the top.
Which is why I’m wondering who Arizona will turn to for reliable scoring.
There’s a caveat to this worry. I believe the Wildcats are good -- top-5 good, potential Final Four good, and yes, even potential national champion good -- so file this under more mildly concerned than all-out panic.
But it’s still a legit question.
There aren’t many point guards in the country more reliable than T.J. McConnell. A healthy Brandon Ashley, mixed with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Kaleb Tarczewski, gives the Wildcats a terrific frontcourt in a year that looks to be loaded with terrific frontcourts.
But here’s the but. When the game is on the line and Arizona needs a bucket, who does coach Sean Miller go to?
The Wildcats aren’t built to win with offense. With defense and offensive rebounding as good as theirs, that’s fine. You do, however, still need to score in this sport, especially in key situations.
That used to be Nick Johnson's role. The junior not only led Arizona in scoring, averaging 16.3 points, but he was The Guy -- the one who could make a shot or create a shot when the Wildcats needed it most. His decision to jump to the NBA early leaves a void that, in some ways, is almost as big (if not bigger) than the one left by lottery pick Aaron Gordon.
The leader in the clubhouse to replace Johnson is freshman Stanley Johnson. Ranked seventh in his class by ESPN, Johnson averaged 25 points at Santa Ana (California) Mater Dei High School. He’s often described as a "man among boys," which is great when you’re among high school boys. Just how his dominance translates into the college game is the question.
It’s asking a lot of a freshman, any freshman, to carry the offensive weight of a team on his shoulders.
My guess is this will be done by committee. Arizona will beat you in all directions instead of just one, which is a fine solution to the problem. Still, there will be those moments when all eyes will turn to one player. The question is, who will that player be for the Wildcats?