Ashley focusing more on defense

Brandon Ashley played the best defensive game of his Arizona career against ASU. read on for why that is, his thoughts on improving defensively, and more.

Brandon Ashley has been inconsistent this season, but is hoping his defensive performance against Arizona State is something that will give him momentum for the rest of the season.

"Honestly I think I was just feeding off my teammates' energy and having them around supporting me helped a lot," Ashley said. "I think the fact that I came out with a lot of energy, it was a rivalry game, and I just wanted to make sure my first rivalry game against Arizona State was a good one."

Ashley admits that he started his career at Arizona without focusing on defense as much as he probably should have.

"Earlier in the season I was focusing mainly on how many points or rebounds I was getting, not necessarily whether I was stopping the person I was guarding," he said. "Changing my perspective and focusing more on defense I think has helped me a lot."

In addition, his defensive performance against Utah helped change his views on how he will be more successful this season.

"After the Utah game, I didn't really like how easy it was for him to score on the first half on me and just the fact that in practice it was something always being talked about," Ashley said. "Coach made me guard Kevin and Solomon, two guys that are very talented three men, to help me with my lateral quickness and defensive abilities."

Now, Ashley attention will turn to UCLA in a matchup in which he will likely guard Kyle Anderson.

"The fact that he is 6-9, but he can handle the ball like a point guard and almost plays a point forward position, that is different," Ashley said. "I feel like it is nothing that we have not seen before. We have definitely played players similar to him."

In addition, Arizona will have the task of stopping Shabazz Muhammad, who has been one of the best freshman scorers in the country.

"Just the fact that he is a very versatile player," Ashley says of what impresses him. "I think he is shooting a very high percentage from three this year, so he has definitely improved on that. He has size and strength, so he can attack from the wing or kind of post you up. He is talented.

"One of our main focuses will be to slow them down offensively, so our defense is definitely going to need to be on point. He gets a lot of points off of put backs and offensive rebounds, so we are definitely going to have to make sure that we rebound well defensively and I think that will be key in this game."

Ashley is not the only one that has noticed an improvement on defense, as Kevin Parrom has been impressed with Ashley's progress this season.

"With Coach Miller, defense is always big," Parrom said. "He is a freshman, so he has to learn how to play offense and defense. A young guy like Brandon wants to play good, but he also has to play good on the defensive end.

"He is capable of doing it, he proved it in the Arizona State game. I think he surprised everybody with how well he played defense against Arizona State. It is just a matter of being consistent and doing it every game."

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