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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Basketball notes: Miller says Tarczewski is not meeting expectations

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Rebecca Noble

Arizona men’s basketball center Kaleb Tarczewski (35) gets tangled up with ASU guard Gerry Blakes (4) during Arizona’s 81-78 loss to ASU in Wells Fargo Arena on Saturday. Tarczewski has been struggling this season, a topic head coach Sean Miller touched on during his weekly press conference with the media.

Arizona men’s basketball coach Sean Miller said that center Kaleb Tarczewski is probably not meeting his expectations right now, but that the junior is undervalued.

Tarczewski scored two points on 1-for-6 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds in the No. 7 Wildcats’ 81-78 loss at ASU and is averaging 8.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. 

“I would say that some of what Kaleb brings to the table, in terms of his overall value, you don’t really see on the stat sheet, and I’ve said it, really from the onset of our season, he’s where he’s supposed to be,” Miller said. “He’s physical, he’s hard working, he’s hard playing, he’s very determined on defense and that impacts a lot for our team.”

Miller said Tarczewski would get more rebounds if forwards Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson didn’t grab so many.

“I think where his struggles are at the moment is on offense, catching the ball, finishing,” Miller said. “He’s lost some confidence, but I believe that he can get that confidence back, and it’s up to us as a coaching staff to help him get that confidence back, because we’re a better team when he can contribute 10 points or more, and he’s certainly capable.”

 

PJC questionable for Washington trip

Point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who suffered a concussion against Oregon, may miss the trip to Washington. Miller said the program will err on the side of caution, and that Jackson-Cartwright might miss the trip despite potentially being cleared.

“The good news is he’s made steady progress,” Miller said.

Miller said that playing without Jackson-Cartwright was costly against ASU.

“Parker’s a huge part of this team and he’s done probably as good a job as anybody can do,” T.J. McConnell said. “What he’s done for us this year is the reason we’re as good as we are, and we miss him but we wish him a speedy recovery.”

McConnell scored 25 points and had four assists and five rebounds in 34 minutes at ASU.

“We could have definitely used Parker in that game, but anybody that watches our team knows how bad we played,” McConnell said.

Without their backup point guard, they were outscored 26-8 by the Sun Devils’ bench.

“That’s one of the reasons we did not win the game,” Miller said. “We got very little from our bench, very little.”

 

Hollis-Jefferson shines

One bright spot for the Wildcats at ASU was Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who had 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and served as the third-string point guard.

“His effort level against ASU was tremendous,” Miller said. “If you judge our players, you would say he looked the same in the game. Rondae brings it every game.”

Miller said Hollis-Jefferson is as valuable as any player in the Pac-12 Conference, especially with his versatility on the defensive end. 

“Very few players defend the other team’s frontcourt player, a four man and a point guard in the same game,” Miller said.

The Wildcats are 8-2 with Hollis-Jefferson as a starter.

“My role is my role and everybody knows it: to guard the best player and to bring that energy; just to do everything basically,” Hollis-Jefferson said.

McConnell said he’s never seen a player do what Hollis-Jefferson has done this year.

“I don’t really think there’s a word to describe how Rondae’s played,” McConnell said. “Just to put it in perspective for you, he has to learn three positions in practice everyday.”

Hollis-Jefferson said that he has spent “countless hours” working on his jump shot and that he admired Kobe Bryant’s mid-range jumper. He said that he has tried to emulate the Kobe system of making 100 shots in a row.

“I wanted to try that,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “I didn’t get that far, not even close, but I’m just going to keep working on it.”

 

Wildcats drop to two seed 

With about a month to go until Selection Sunday, Arizona’s loss to ASU dropped the Wildcats from a No. 1 seed to a two seed according to bracket projections.

The Wildcats are the No. 2 seed in the West Region according to ESPN, CBS and USA Today. That path means the Wildcats could eventually play Gonzaga, the expected No. 1 seed in the West.

ESPN and CBS have the UA going to Portland, Ore. for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.

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Follow James Kelley on Twitter.

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