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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Anderson moves to the five as Wildcats look to continue momentum through Fresno State

Tyler Baker
Arizona forward Ryan Anderson (12) leaps for a dunk in McKale Center over Boise State on Thursday, Nov. 19. Anderson will begin to have a larger role in the five position in Kaleb Tarczewski’s abscence.

As No. 13 Arizona men’s basketball prepares to take on Fresno State Wednesday evening in McKale Center, there’s one priority at the top of head coach Sean Miller’s to-do list: Figure out the situation at the center position.

With Kaleb Tarczewski out for at least a couple more weeks nursing a left foot injury, the Wildcats (7-1) will have to play through the rest of the non-conference season without their senior big man.

So far, that’s proved to be a challenge.

Dusan Ristic and Chance Comanche have had to fill in during Tarczewski’s absence, and Miller said on Monday that Ryan Anderson—who has been battling an ongoing ankle injury—will also see minutes at the five spot moving forward.

The responsibility to replace Tarczewski has primarily fallen upon Ristic over the last two weeks.

Ristic played 21 minutes in Arizona’s 68-63 defeat over Gonzaga, finishing with nine points and four rebounds. Miller criticized the 7-foot sophomore for repeatedly being out of place on the offensive side.

“[Tarczewski] makes the game easier for his four teammates because he’s in the right place every single possession on offense and defense,” Miller said. “[Ristic] is very rarely doing what we’re asking him to do on offense. He’s kind of that Sesame Street character, one of these kids who’s doing his own thing.”

Miller specifically critiqued Ristic for missing screens and failing to post up down low. Those are the types of little mistakes, Miller said, that cost the team a few buckets over the course of a game.

Miller did commend Ristic’s defensive play against Gonzaga’s Domantas Sabonis, as well as his rebounding. Offense is the next step.

“[Ristic] has really improved in some areas for us,” Miller said. “But we now need him in this last area to check out; he just needs more repetitions. My hope is that when you watch him on Wednesday, that he’s more efficient, more sure of himself.”

Comanche and Anderson, in the meantime, will continue to bite into Ristic’s playing time.

Miller said Anderson, like Ristic, needs more experience at the position. It hasn’t helped that the redshirt senior has been less than 100 percent the last few weeks after rolling his ankle in both of Arizona’s games against Boise State.

“[Anderson] played in the Gonzaga game having very little practice under his belt at [center],” Miller said. “My hope is that [he] can get a good stretch of health here. Now he’s going to be productive in the game and do all the little things to make his team better.”

Looking ahead to Fresno State (6-2), the Wildcats shouldn’t need to rely on post scoring too heavily against a relatively small Bulldogs team.

Torren Jones, a 6-foot-9 junior from Chandler, Arizona, is Fresno State’s biggest threat down low, as he is averaging a near double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds per game.

The Bulldogs’ backcourt is led by seniors Marvelle Harris and Cezar Guerrero. Harris is the team’s leading scorer with 19 points per game, while Guerrero is perhaps Fresno State’s best pure shooter at 48.3 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. and the game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.

Follow Ezra Amacher on Twitter.

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