Miller happy with defensive effort

Sean Miller met with the media earlier this week to discuss Jordin Mayes' injury, who will fill in at point, his defense, and more. Read on for the latest.

With a very important sweep over California and Stanford this past weekend, the Wildcats have put themselves in a position to battle for a second consecutive Pac-12 championship.

But of course, nothing will be easy for an Arizona team that has already been able to overcome a lot. Kevin Parrom is lost for the season with a broken foot and Arizona had to catch its collective breath and hope that Jordin Mayes did not suffer the same fate on an already repaired foot.

"He did not break his foot," said Sean Miller as he addressed the media on Tuesday. "As you know this past summer he did break his foot and we inserted a screw in his foot. It is the exact same injury and surgery that Kevin Parrom had this past weekend. Because there is a screw in the foot, you worry that anything in that area could hurt that [screw] and the good news is that his surgery and everything that happened previously is completely intact and in addition to that he has no further break."

"He has a stress reaction or there was stress put on that part of his foot, which sometimes happens because it is so stable with the screw that it feels funny. It is a matter of this point forward that we hope that the pain subsides and we anticipate that it will."

With the loss of Mayes, it means that Arizona is down to Josiah Turner as the only point guard on the roster. Someone will have to step up and as it has been the case a few times this season already, Nick Johnson will play minutes at the point guard position.

Johnson played point guard on the road against a talented Florida Gators team and held his own while playing minutes this past Saturday against Stanford as well. It is a situation that Miller is very comfortable with.

"We always played Nick since the first day of practice as our third point guard," said Miller. "He's been called to play in a number of games this year as our second point guard, so he knows our system and that is really to his credit. It is one of the many things that Nick Johnson brings to the table. It's difficult for a freshman to learn two positions and we asked him to do it from day one. It is because of situations like this that are so pivotal.

"You think about the time of the year and where we are as a team and the magnitude of each game, it's important that we have someone that can run our system and play the game the way we want it to be played and Nick can do that."

Arizona welcomes Colorado and Utah into town this week and Thursday's matchup proves to be a revenge game for the Wildcats. Back on January 21, the Buffaloes (16-7, 8-3) had a strong finish to escape with a 64-63 win after Arizona could not get a late open look from Parrom to go down.

The Wildcats controlled most of the game, but could not maintain their play on both ends of the court as players like Carlon Brown were able to get open and have success against Arizona. Brown had 19 points and a big three late to put Colorado up on top.

"I think Carlon Brown is one of the best offensive players that plays college basketball," explained Miller. "I do believe that he is one of the best players in our conference. He does as much for Colorado as any single player does for their team in our conference.

"He's relentless with his effort, he has a real unique body in that he is big and physical and strong, but he's really skilled. He can shoot the three, is really agile, moves quickly, kills you in transition, takes big shots and really believes and to me really plays with confidence."

The fifth year senior is one of four seniors on a team that is making a transition into a new conference. With players like Brown coming up big in important situations, it is no wonder that Colorado is 8-3 in conference play.

"I think Colorado has that element [senior leadership] at three positions; point guard, center and the three-man," said Miller. "They are all seniors, they have been through the wars of the Big 12 and in their own right are very important players to Colorado's team. They are one of the many reasons that Colorado is one of the best teams in the conference."

Arizona had a chance to win the previous game against Colorado and has put itself in position to win games late due to its defense. Defense was the name of the game in wins against California and Stanford, as the Wildcats made it difficult for either team to score easy.

If Arizona is going to finish this season out strong, defense will be a major key. While it don't turn teams over as much, having strong defensive outings is something that makes Miller the happiest.

"It's a thing that I'm most proud of," Miller said. "Anytime that you take over a program as a new coach you want to create an identity and you want to see improvement from one season to the next and obviously in winning.

"But inside of what you do, if man-to-man defense is a real constant and is something that you have as part of your program and apart of the success of your winning identity, you want to get better at it and improve when you first get here through your second, third, fourth year and beyond. Yes, I am very proud of our defense.

"If I'm optimistic then I would just say that I would hope that we can continue to develop on offense and keep our defense the same and I think you'll see us finish really strong."


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