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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Let Sean Miller work his magic

Slut+Walk+began+at+the+Womens+Plaza+of+Honor+on+campus+and+ended+at+The+Hopyard+on+4th+Avenue+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+14%2C+2015.+
Rebecca Noble
Slut Walk began at the Women’s Plaza of Honor on campus and ended at The Hopyard on 4th Avenue on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015.

Give Arizona men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller credit where credit is due. He has managed to work his magic yet again.

This weekend’s tournament was brutal for Wildcat fans to swallow. Arizona suffered a loss in November — something that hasn’t happened since 2011.

But Miller in no way, shape or form has given up on his team and neither have his players. In fact, it appears the loss will only make them stronger.

In Sunday’s matchup against Boise State in the third place game of the DIRECTV Wooden Legacy, the tides were against the Wildcats. They had just lost the game before. Kaleb Tarczewski and Ray Smith were both out due to injuries. Come the second half, both Mark Tollefsen and Ryan Anderson had fouled out.

With only Dusan Ristic available in the post, Miller implemented a five guard lineup. Although it was shaky, Arizona still came out on top.

Yet again, Allonzo Trier stepped up. It appears he truly likes the pressure. Trier finished the night with 13 points in 26 minutes of play.

That’s exactly what Miller does, he gets the job done.

Despite 21 total turnovers against Providence, Arizona lost by only four points, on a horrific shooting night.

The real surprise has been who has stepped up the most. In the weekend’s games, it was none other than Ryan Anderson.

Without their leader Zeus, the Wildcats looked lost. Anderson surely did all he can, but one player won’t carry a team in Miller’s offense. His 27 points against Providence only carried them so far.

“We’re not where we were a year ago,” Miller said.

Of course they’re not. Four of their five starters are different from last year.

T.J. McConnell, the guard who last season controlled the floor and the passing game, has been traded for a two guard system of Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The duo has combined for 24 total turnovers this season.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the defensive minded forward who kept future NBA Draft second pick D’Angelo Russell to nine points last season, left for the NBA. In his place, Elliott Pitts has taken over the role of defensive stopper.

Stanley Johnson has been replaced by both Mark Tollefsen and Trier this season. Tollefsen and Trier are both projects in the making, and very well could step up later in the season.

Furthermore, Brandon Ashley has been replaced by Anderson at the four spot. Anderson has done the best job as captain for the Wildcats, averaging 16 points per game.

With so many valuable players lost, this team is a work of progress. Miller has been preaching that since the start of the season and they surely have a long way to go.

Will there be some bumps in the road? Absolutely.

Will there be more losses to come? Almost definitely.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if Arizona wins the Pac-12 Conference, it will be by far the best coaching job of Sean Miller’s career,” CBS Sports College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein wrote on Twitter.

But Wildcat fans, take a deep breath and let Miller work his magic. I promise something good will come from it.

Xavier knows it to be true. Pittsburgh knows it to be true. Wisconsin knows it to be true. North Carolina State knows it to be true.

You get the picture.


Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.


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