Now that the Arizona Wildcats have Zach Peters fully available, a groin strain to Aaron Gordon could be their biggest issue going forward.
Especially if the hyper-intense Gordon doesn't learn to manage it better, the way UA coach Sean Miller put it during his news conference today. Gordon has been forced to take some practices off and played in only 60-70 percent of UA's scrimmage at Saint Mary's on Saturday, Miller said.
"It’s kind of a nagging groin strain, an injury that's not all of a sudden going to go away," Miller said. "What we're trying to teach him is how to manage it. He’s chomping at the bit trying to be in every practice and be ready to play, but sometimes for us, giving him an extra day of rest and not letting him practice the entire time is going to help him calm down and be healthy for the long haul.
"He's going to be fine with it especially if we're smart right now."
Miller said Gordon was forced to sit out at the end of the Saint Mary's scrimmage but that he did not expect Gordon to be limited in the season opener Friday against Cal Poly.
So did the Wildcats "win" or "lose" Saturday's scrimmage? Miller wouldn't say but it was clear that it wasn't easy. (And, actually, the scrimmage is divided up into segments and players can't foul out, so it isn't a true game anyway).
"Not only did we play a quality team in Saint Mary's with a great coach but also played on their court," Miller said. "We were able to leave the comfort of McKale and our fans to go into gym that was empty and play against a team that had a great style, a veteran team, a team I believe will have a chance to be in the NCAA tournament for sure.
"The results I’ll stay away from, but it was an extremely competitive scrimmage. We learned a lot about our team, we learned a lot about our freshmen, it was really good for all of us. We left that scrimmage much more prepared."
Guard Nick Johnson said the scrimmage was valuable for the UA freshmen, giving them a taste of how difficult competition can be.
"Coming in from high school, you think things are going to be not as hard as they are," Johnson said. "Definitely going there and seeing the talent and the way they play as a team definitely caught some of our young guys off balance."
Miller declined to say if Peters would play Friday after undergoing his first full practice Tuesday, saying he needed more time to evaluate the transfer from Kansas with a history of concussions.
Miller said Peters might also want to see for himself how he does in practice first.
"It's too early" to say," Miller said. "I’ve never seen him playing, and he's never seen himself, against live competition. So that would be unfair at this point."
Eventually, Miller has said, Peters can give the Wildcats an extra body up front who can stretch defenses with his shooting ability and throw his weight around with a physical approach to the game.
He just may not do that all in a game just yet.
"It's been a while since he’s played competitive five-on-five," Miller said. "You don't go from zero to 100. But it's good for Zach, it's good for our team, to have another player involved in what we do every day. Hopefully that will progress where he can help us at some point this season."