On the precipice of its most important road game of the season, No. 19 Arizona has announced it will not have starting center Kaleb Tarczewski available.
In fact, “Zeus” is going to miss at least a month, and might not be ready to play until 2016. One of the most important big men in college basketball has a stress reaction in his left foot, an injury triggered in Zona’s 75-73 OT win against Santa Clara last Thursday.
The senior center is also dealing with a strained muscle in the same foot.
The official timeline is 4-6 weeks; Tarczewski is averaging 8.6 points and 7.2 rebounds. This means Arizona’s big game against Gonzaga this weekend is even more unlikely to go coach Sean Miller’s way. His team isn’t beefy up front, while the Zags have one of the best frontcourts in the nation with Kyle Wiltjer, Domantas Sabonis and Przemek Karnowski.
Stepping in for Tarczewski will be raw sophomore Dusan Ristic , a 7-footer who now has to learn on a steep curve. Ristic has a bright future at the college level, but there are no guarantees he’ll be nearly as effective or durable as Tarczewski as Arizona finishes up its non-conference slate over the next month.
The 6-1 Wildcats follow up their game at Gonzaga this weekend with four straight home tilts: against Fresno State on Dec. 9; against Missouri on Dec. 13; against Northern Arizona on Dec. 16; and against UNLV on Dec. 19.