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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona hoops goes back to basics

Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson/ Daily Wildcat The University of Arizona Men’s Basketball team lost to the University of Oregon on Saturday, Jan. 14 at McKale Center.

The Wildcats may have to turn to ball-handling drills, the three-man weave and George Mikan layup drills like it’s fifth-grade summer camp if they continue to fail to execute the fundamentals of the game.

Arizona head coach Sean Miller is willing to pull out all the stops to get Arizona right.

“I’m going to try a couple different things,” Miller said. “One of the things that I’ve really grown fond of, and I’ve never tried is, I know football coaches roll their players like a log. I’ve heard that that really works.”

“I wonder if you rolled them on a basketball court what would happen,” he continued sarcastically. “We’re willing to try anything at this point.”

No fundamental lapse has been more disheartening to Miller than Arizona’s turnovers. UA’s lackadaisical offensive play has resulted in an average of 15.2 turnovers per contest during Pac-12 play, leading to an agitated coach.

While the missed layups and free throws will eventually come around, according to Miller, the turnovers need to be addressed immediately.

“It’s hard to have fun doing anything in college basketball when your team is as inept at taking care of the ball as we have become,” Miller said. “I watch a lot of basketball and I don’t see a lot of teams doing what we do.”

Miller spent the majority of his Tuesday press conference sarcastically explaining his team’s inability to take care of the ball in simple, elementary school-level terms, as if he were addressing his team directly.

He said things like “you want to catch the ball with two hands,” “we don’t want to travel,” “layups, we want to make them,” and “we want to throw it to the blue jersey, not the white one.”

The former collegiate point guard wore his frustrations on his sleeve, and rightfully so. Arizona turned the ball over 10 times in the first half against Oregon, resulting in 22 first-half points and a 12-point deficit it couldn’t climb out of.

The Wildcats’ turnover problems date back to the start of Pac-12 play. Arizona handed it over to ASU 15 times, UCLA 16 times, USC 17 times and Oregon State 13 times.

To put those numbers in perspective, if those 15.2 turnovers were the Wildcats’ season average, they would sit at 259th in the NCAA right in front of Florida International, Central Connecticut State and St. Bonaventure.

“We’re not striking fear in anyone right now,” Miller said.

He went on to say that his team will now run after committing turnovers in practice. Playing time will also be contingent on taking care of the ball, among other things.

But if that’s not enough for his three-guard, two-forward starting lineup, which should be more than capable of taking care of the ball, he may have to dumb things down even more before the Wildcats take on Utah and Colorado this weekend.

“I know Colorado can wear gray sometimes but I’ll make sure that our guys understand that gray and blue is different,” Miller said. “We want to throw it to that blue team.”

Miller’s players say they understand the turnover woes, it’s just a matter of correcting them.

“Guys definitely have to do a better job of taking care of the ball, myself included,” said Kyle Fogg. “Older guys like me and (Brendon Lavender) and Solomon (Hill) and Jesse (Perry), we especially have to take care of the ball just to show these younger guys how important it is. I think that’s when our offense will really take over.”

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