My wife comes home from work and asks “Is Trier going to play?”
She pronounces it TREE-are. She does not follow UA hoops.
But almost every day since Halloween she has returned from the medical center with the same question.
“Is Trier going to play?”
One of the internists wants to know. The trauma center nurse wants to know. The lady giving flu shots wants to know.
I shrug. “It’s like Stonehenge,” I say. “Nobody knows.”
“It’s your job to know,” she says. “What should I tell them?”
And so before leaving for Wednesday’s 85-63 victory over Texas Southern, I told her to expect Allonzo Trier to play in 2017.
“Either Arizona,” I say, “or somebody else.”
Do you have a better answer?
In what has become the most baffling case since D.B. Cooper, Allonzo Trier sits on the Arizona bench in a sweatsuit. Wednesday was Day 50 of Trier’s forced idleness. The formula for Coca-Cola has been kept secret for 131 years; Arizona guards the reason for Trier’s lack of eligibility with similar intent.
The school continues to list Trier in its game-day notes package. He is included in the “off the bench” group of nine players, but that list is misleading because it includes Talbott Denny and Ray Smith, both out for the year with knee injuries.
Because of the Mystery of the Missing Trier, Arizona’s basketball season has essentially been shifted into neutral. Do these home games really matter? Sacred Heart one night, Cal State Bakersfield the next.
The Zona Zoo answered in absentia Wednesday night. It might have been the fewest UA students at a home game since the Kevin O’Neill season. What is there to look forward to except an announcement of Trier’s return or the latest bad news, the apparently serious ankle injury to point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright?
This month’s home schedule is dreadful; do you realize only UC Irvine, Grand Canyon and New Mexico play at McKale Center in December?
Arizona had a better December home schedule 60 years ago, in December of 1956, when it played Hamline, NAU, Murray State, New Mexico State and Colorado State. Yes, Hamline, the Pipers from Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Nothing against Texas Southern, which is on its annual Tour Across America, an almost unprecedented 13-game series of consecutive road games, but Tigers coach Mike Davis told the Star’s Bruce Pascoe on Monday that “we won’t win.”
It was only two years ago that Texas Southern, playing 13 consecutive road games to open the season, stunned mighty Michigan State 71-64 in East Lansing. And yet Davis put into perspective Arizona’s dismal home schedule by admitting defeat before he arrived in Tucson to collect a $90,000 fee as a sacrificial basketball lamb.
Texas Southern didn’t even have a radio broadcast team at the game. As far as can be remembered, for maybe 30 years, maybe 40, every visiting team at McKale has broadcast the game to their faraway fans.
Games at McKale Center this season are like something out of an Allen Iverson press conference. They seem like practice, man.
On Wednesday, for example, Arizona inserted sophomore walk-on Tyler Trillo in the first half, when the game was still somewhat contested. It became necessary for Trillo to play after Jackson-Cartwright jammed his ankle into a TSU opponent and spent the entire second half undergoing medical treatment.
Tyler Trillo? Ring a bell?
It does if you are a fan of Roger Williams University, a Division III team from Southbury, Connecticut. Trillo played for RWU in 2014-15 before transferring to Arizona to concentrate on academics but ultimately being awarded a non-scholarship spot on Sean Miller’s injury-scarred roster. Not only didn’t Trillo start for RWU, against teams like Johnson & Wales and Fitchburg State, he averaged just 1.1 points per game.
What many thought would be the Season of Trier has, by a series of misfortunate personnel losses, become the Season of Trillo.
I’ve never seen Miller as somber as he was after Wednesday’s game. Not even after season-ending losses to Bucknell and Wichita State. He was snippy and on edge, and he is rarely like that in a postgame media session.
Can you blame him?
Who will he lose next, Lauri Markkanen?
“Arguably our best player has never played,” Miller said, referring to Ray Smith.
Asked who now becomes the UA’s eighth man — Trillo perhaps? — Miller bit off three words: “I don’t know.”
No one outside of Tucson is feeling sorry for Arizona, and especially not Gonzaga, which, given Arizona’s personnel situation, now comes off as Godzilla.
“This is big-boy basketball on Saturday,” UA guard Kadeem Allen said.
You wonder if Tyler Trillo will be up to it.