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Unveiling the inaugural Wildcat fan mailbag.
Q: What is your take on the softball hire of Caitlin Lowe and baseball hire of Chip Hale, as we come close to the end of their first seasons?
A. There just isn’t enough data but if you liked the Lowe hire initially, you should still be on board.
Arizona fans aren’t used to an 0-8 conference start but the way the Cats have reversed course and advanced to the Women’s College World Series is a testament to Lowe’s ability to command her team and the current level of talent.
The future appears bright as Lowe has signed one of the best recruiting classes in the country, highlighted by 2021 California Gatorade Player of the Year, pitcher Sydney Somerndike
Ex-coach Mike Candrea spent years planning out his chain of succession and there is every reason to believe he made the right decision.
Arizona fans should know a lot more about Lowe by this time next season.
Chip Hale certainly returned to Arizona with a professional background and more skeptics but just like Lowe there isn’t enough information to go on yet.
The Wildcats (37-23) were maddeningly inconsistent the entire season, but generally lived up to their third place preseason expectations. This is a dangerous team going into the postseason, but likely lacks the consistency to go far.
Hale wants to be at Arizona and desperately wants to succeed at Arizona. That is a big deal as Arizona fans have found out in baseball and other sports.
If Hale can recruit, Arizona baseball will be fine, but can he recruit at the level that Arizona needs to compete for national championships?
That will ultimately be the deciding factor as to the success of the Hale era.
Q: Can Arizona basketball compete for a national championship this coming season?
A: Yes, I don’t know how Lloyd will do it, especially if Dalen Terry stays in the NBA draft but this is a battle-tested unit with multiple all-conference type players coming back.
Arizona is light on scoring and will need to address that through the portal, a player like University of Tennessee Chattanooga-transfer guard Malachi Smith and his 21 points per game would look good in McKale. A small forward like Kentucky-transfer Keion Brooks Jr. would fit in nicely as well.
There are options out there for Arizona but the Cats will need to add multiple difference makers.
Q: Thoughts on Lloyd’s recruiting approach where he offers a very limited number of players?
A: Lloyd is very concerned about player fit when it comes to recruiting. It’s far more about the player’s character and background situation than just about skills.
The 2023 and 2024 class will be true tests of this philosophy but so far so good, as Lloyd has commitments from 5-start guards Kylan Boswell and KJ Lewis, Lloyd’s two priority recruits.
Lloyd’s more cautious approach when it comes to the time-sensitive transfer portal could be more problematic and is something worth keeping an eye on.
What is your take on Arizona Football’s 2.5 win projection?
This is a tough line mainly because Arizona has no easy non-conference games. San Diego State, Mississippi State and North Dakota State are all difficult games, but shouldn’t Arizona football have higher expectations in year two than two wins?
Mainly because Arizona should have competent quarterback play and still gets to play Colorado, Arizona State , Washington State, California and Washington.
I like the over.
Follow Mike Luke @ironmikeluke