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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Anderson and McConnell dominate Sean Miller press conference

Rebecca Noble

Ryan Anderson (12) places his hand over his heart during the national anthem in McKale Center before the Red Blue scrimmage on Saturday, Oct. 17.

The Arizona men’s basketball team unofficially kicks off its season this Sunday in an exhibition game against Chico State.

Arizona head coach Sean Miller met with the media Thursday to discuss the upcoming game.

Unbeknownst to Miller, he would wind up talking about Philadelphia 76ers point guard T.J. McConnell for quite some time at the conference.

“T.J. was as valuable of a member of the last two seasons that we had,” Miller said. “He was as consistent of a player that I’ve ever coached day-in, day-out. Not until somebody like that is gone do you understand all of the qualities that he had.”

In four games played, McConnell has averaged 28.0 minutes of playing time per game, 4.8 rebounds, eight assists and 1.5 steals.

According to ESPN, McConnell managed to make NBA history against the Milwaukee Bucks, with at least 12 assists in two of his first four career games.

“To say that we are all proud of him would be an understatement,” Miller said. “It’s remarkable what he has been able to do early so far as an NBA player.”

Miller mentioned that Arizona has scrimmaged the Saint Mary’s Gaels for the past three seasons, including this one last Saturday. However due to NCAA regulations, he is unable to discuss specifics about the scrimmage.

Miller also spoke about the loss of Ray Smith to an ACL injury, which has been both devastating to Smith and the whole Arizona team.

“I’ve never felt worse for a young player then when it happened to Ray because we are well aware he’s worked…he’s been looking forward to this time,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, that’s how it works sometimes in sports. He’s going to get surgery on Monday.”

Due to the loss of Smith at the small forward position, the Wildcats may try a three-guard trio of Allonzo Trier and Gabe York along with a point guard.

In terms of the point guard battle, Miller said that both Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Kadeem Allen are equal in their point guard battle. Both are still working to improve, however.

“I could see a number of positions here early on changing before we finally settle in,” Miller said. “We expected that based on the change of roles and number of players that are even.”

Center Kaleb Tarczewski is still resting his ankle, which he hurt during practice a few weeks ago. The big man did not play in the scrimmage against the Gaels.

Ironically, Arizona will face another Wildcat team in Chico State. Chico State will look to repeat as California Collegiate Athletic Association champions. The Chico State Wildcats have four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament and finished last season at 22-8.

Chico State also returns three starters including senior forward Tanner Giddings, senior guard Drew Kitchens and junior guard Robert Duncan.

One expectation that many had pre-season that will not come to fruition is redshirting Chance Comanche. The Arizona Wildcats preached on the improvements that he has made since just one year ago.

When asked about starters for Sunday, a pleasant surprise to Miller has been Ryan Anderson, who will almost most certainly get the nod against Chico State.

“Ryan Anderson has been our best player hands down,” Miller said. “He has dominated the practices. He dominates the action in virtually everything we do.”

Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.

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