The Arizona Wildcats led NAU 9-0 with less than two minutes gone at McKale Center on Wednesday night and went on to win 93-50 in a game no one will long remember.
No drama at all.
Ninth-ranked Arizona improved to 4-0 against a tepid non-conference schedule, another step of progress with three new starters and five new players in the rotation. Slow and steady.
Nothing to make the ESPN highlights or headlines.
Isn’t it nice?
A year ago at this time, freshman big man Sidiki Johnson had already been left behind at home after a tournament in New York City preceding his transfer before the end of the semester.
Freshman point guard Josiah Turner had already been benched for a game, soon headed to the first of two suspensions; he would tell Yahoo! Sports this summer that he had “big issues” with alcohol and marijuana in his one year at Arizona.
Imagine what coach Sean Miller was dealing with behind the scenes.
How does he characterize this team?
“No nonsense,” he said.
While the first four games haven’t been very interesting — wins of nine, 21, 22 and 43 points — the lack of commotion — whether by injury or unhappiness or from having too many knuckleheads — is why November was such a good opening month.
“I like to think we have a great group of guys,” said sophomore guard Nick Johnson. “Knock on wood, we haven’t gotten into anything and I don’t foresee anything coming about. But I definitely give it to the coaches. We’ve put together a great group of guys.”
Check around the Pac-12 for some of that.
At UCLA, guard Tyler Lamb announced his transfer this week and, it’s official, big man (really big man) Joshua Smith will never reach his tantalizing college potential, instead bailing out of the program on Wednesday. This all came after the Bruins, in the shocker of the year in college basketball, lost an 18-point second-half lead and lost to little ol’ Cal Poly in shiny new Pauley Pavilion.
Elsewhere, Stanford announced Wednesday that guard Anthony Brown is out for the season with a hip injury. Oregon State already has lost big man Angus Brandt to a knee injury.
Colorado needed two overtimes the other night to beat a 1-5 Texas Southern team. Utah has lost to Sacramento State. Washington has lost at home to Albany and by 18 at home to Colorado State.
Meanwhile, no screaming, no angst here in Tucson. No problem child on the team. No — knock on wood again — injuries. A year ago at this time, Kevin Parrom was still working his way back from being shot in the leg.
After that kind of news, what this Arizona team needs — deserves — is a dig dose of dull.
“We have a team that goes about things in a very consistent manner on a daily basis,” Miller said.
“Not that some practices aren’t better than others or a certain player has one of those days that stands out both good and bad. …
“We’re not problem-free. Certainly we’re sharing a lot of minutes. I know a lot of guys would like to play more, but everybody has to sacrifice to do some special things, and we’ve talked a lot about that. I’m proud of our chemistry to this point.”
Miller has talked about this from the start. These guys work hard, have good attitudes. The four freshmen have been on time, eager to listen and learn.
The on-court stuff will continue to work itself out — the improving 3-point defense, Xavier transfer Mark Lyons getting more comfortable at the point, the young big men continuing to develop. That there hasn’t been much else to talk about is a good thing.
From here, the pace of the season begins to pick up. Arizona plays its first road game — at Texas Tech — on Saturday. Then, the Cats are home Tuesday against 6-0 Southern Miss. It’s all leading up to Dec. 15 at home against Florida.
“Our peak time is coming,” Miller said.
The Cats will be ready for it. Arizona is steadily climbing, unimpeded by nonsense.