Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 2/1/12
TUCSON -- Arizona's future looks bright. The immediate future? Well, thats to be determined. More questions will be answered in perhaps the toughest road trip in the Pac-12 this weekend, as UA faces California (winners of 17 consecutive home games) on Thursday and Stanford (always a frenzied place to play) on Saturday. If the past is any indication, there are going to be some tough moments for the Wildcats, who for the past three months have played not knowing if they were going to get a good, strong showing from junior Kevin Parrom after his unfortunate knee and hand injuries that were the result of shooting in New York before the season even began. The Wildcats (14-8 overall, 5-4 Pac-12) now know they wont get any help from Parrom the rest of the way, as hes out for the season with a broken right foot. "The playing time is there (for the others)," said Arizona junior forward Solomon Hill. "Now guys just have to step up and produce." Who will step up is anyones guess, but Arizona coach Sean Miller is looking to freshman center Angelo Chol, who has had a fairly nondescript season so far, and junior Kyryl Natyazhko, who has been but a blip on Arizona's playing-time radar recently. With Parrom out, the lineup could look more like this: Chol at center, Jesse Perry at power forward, Hill at small forward, Kyle Fogg or Nick Johnson at shooting guard and Josiah Turner at point guard. Its a look Arizona has used plenty. Brendon Lavender comes in and plays the small forward spot while Jordin Mayes helps out in the backcourt. For most of the season, there's been of a philosophy of "Get in where you fit it in." Sometimes the pieces to the puzzle just havent fit, but ... "We need them now more than ever," Hill said of everyone with the opportunity for more playing time. They should seize the opportunity to work hard, probably spend a little more time in the gym than they normally have. The minutes are going to be there. This is coachs grading skills (time) to see if you are worth it or not." Itll be all about opportunity, especially for Chol and Natyazhko. What they do with it will be up to them. There's lttle question Arizona needs help near the basket. "Weve really played without Kevin, minus three and a half games," Miller said, factoring in Parrom's injuries and inconsistent play upon his return. "He was practicing but didnt contribute what he was capable of. It wasnt until recently that all of us saw Kevin as a player from last year. Its his recent play that we will miss." Oh, what could have been. Arizona seemed to be just starting to heat up, coinciding with Parroms progress. Now, the team can only hope something clicks with Chol andor Natyazhko at some point. Temper the thought by knowing Natyazhko has played but nine minutes over the last four games (zero in the last two) and Chol has averaged fewer than 10 minutes in each of the last four. But even Miller, ever the pragmatic and straightforward one, said, "Do the math: Someone is going to have to step up." And thats not just the two mentioned. If Arizona is to make any late push in the second half of the Pac-12 schedule, everyone will have to contribute. Turner, a freshman, will have to continue to make progress as the team's backcourt leader. Johnson, a sensation in sneakers for most of the seasons first two months, will have to return to form after not playing up to his early-season ways the last couple of weeks. More will be asked of Mayes, who has player under the radar because hes been nondescript for the last two months. And much will be expected of senior Kyle Fogg and Solomon Hill, who has played to an all-conference level lately. Fogg, although in and out of games offensively, will have to hit the outside shot more consistently. He said he had hoped to shoot at least 45 percent from the floor going into the season, and he's currently at 44 percent from the 3-point line and 41 percent overall. As for Hill, if he can continue to play at a high level -- much like he did against Washington (28 points) and Washington State (17) -- the Wildcats should be in games for the rest of the season. On Tuesday, Miller said two of Arizonas trouble spots have been offensive inconsistency and "big-moment" failures. Whether those can be resolved over the next two months -- despite the added challenge of playing without Parrom -- is yet to be determined. NOTES Miller said Arizona might petition for a hardship waiver for Parrom, which would allow the senior to gain another year of eligibility. That will be a difficult sell, although Parrom has missed a number of games and will miss the rest of the season because of a broken right foot. Parrom has played in 20 games. He missed the start of the season after suffering gunshot wounds to his right knee and left hand and now is dealing with the broken foot. Parrom also missed 14 games as a freshman because of a broken foot. "I haven't talked to our compliance about it," Miller said. "But I think they would probably agree that when you consider what he missed in total as a freshman and everything that happened this year ... you could make the argument that, especially with him academically doing well, which he is on track to graduate, that he could be a candidate for that fifth year." Miller said it's not clear when that type of inquiry would begin. MIDSEASON REPORT CARD What's gone right? Defense. Arizona has been in games because of its defense, keeping opponents at 40 percent from the floor this season. What's gone wrong? Arizona hasnt been able to find consistent scorers. A directly related issue is that the team doesnt have a late-game, go-to guy ... or any go-to guy, for that matter. Pleasant surprise: For about 70 percent of the season, Nick Johnson was phenomenal. Hes hit a wall of late, as most freshmen do. Needs to step up: Josiah Turner was to have been the savior in the backcourt this season. Although hes coming around, Arizona needs more help scoring and finishing from its point guard. Second-half forecast: Winning on the road wont happen very often. Dont expect it. Arizona isnt deep enough at any position. It's likely UA will finish 10-8 in the conference and have to win the Pac-12 postseason tournament to make the NCAA tournament. UAs RPI as of Tuesday was 86, and there's a very good chance that number will drop into the 90s by this time next week
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