Arizona lost to Colorado 53-51 in the championship game of the Pac-12 tournament on Saturday afternoon. Freshman Josiah Turner didn't travel with the team, having been suspended indefinitely by Coach Sean Miller for a violation of team rules. Would his presence have made a difference?
The answer, of course, is impossible to determine.
What is known is that in the matchup with Colorado, Kyle Fogg scored 14 points on 4-11 shooting, Nick Johnson totaled five on 2-10 shooting and Jordin Mayes went scoreless in 23 minutes, accounting for the Wildcat backcourt starters. Subbing in was one guard, Brandon Lavender, who added six points in 29 minutes.
As background information: in 27 minutes a game, Turner averaged 6.6 points and 3.3 rebounds a contest, plus a team-leading 49 assists and 23 steals, all in 18 games.
So the proverbial elephant in the living room is what does Arizona Coach Sean Miller do now?
Does he allow Turner to return? For the record, in lieu of the Field of 64, the Wildcats landed in the NIT and lost at home last night 65-54 to Bucknell.
Does Miller make the decision himself or put Turner's status to a polling of his teammates, or both?
The answer must be determined in this context: Turner let down his teammates, to the point of 'possibly' costing them a Pac-12 conference championship and therefore a spot in the Big Dance.
That's major league.
At the level of requiring some sort of major penance if not an outright loss of scholarship.
The point can be made that we are talking a young person here, that some degree and number of mistakes are inevitable and such is accurate.
But do note that this is Turner's second suspension this season and another 'I'm more important than the team' display.
No, this is not meant as any sort of vendetta against Turner. The hope here is that he swiftly gains maturity and perspective and that he eventually actualizes his dream to make it to the National Basketball Association. It's also worthy to note that Turner was named as an honorable mention to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team for his on-court efforts this season.