Arizona overcomes Miller's concerns

Arizona head coach Sean Miller had plenty of concern's going into Thursday's game against Southern. Read on to see what they were, his thoughts on how Arizona handled them, and more.

Going into Thursday's game against Southern, Arizona head coach Sean Miller had plenty of reason to be concerned. Thus, it is no surprise that he did not have many complaints about the win.

"I am happy with the win from the perspective of that this is a hard week for our team," Miller said. "I was very concerned going into the game.

"Quite a few of our players had final exams and final papers today, so you can imagine coming off the weekend at Michigan and having three, four, five different classes they are all juggling.

"That and then practice and now playing our first game without Kaleb, I was wondering how it would work and obviously excited we were able to leave with a win."

Playing without Tarczewski forced numerous Wildcats to play positions that they may not have been completely comfortable in.

"It was also interesting to watch our team without Kaleb," Miller said. "Some of the things that are easy to take for granted, size around the basket and it's not just Kaleb's size, but remember that each one of our guys bumps down a position, so instead of Aaron Gordon guarding at the three, Rondae playing just at the three, now both are playing at the four and you can see the physicality and ruggedness playing more post defense than perimeter."

Miller was happy about the fact that Arizona was challenged due to the absence of Tarczewski, as he believes it won't be the first time this season.

"We didn't look quite as big and strong," he said. "Rebounding is the same way. Our guards have sometimes had the freedom to not block out because we are so gifted at the three, four, and five.

"Tonight, we were back to that team where all five had to block out and when we didn't it was a scramble.

"Like all teams, we're going to have to play with injuries and we're going to have to play with foul problems. I thought it really showed our team where yeah you're right coach, it does feel a little different without Kaleb in that aspect."

Arizona has to step up in other phases with its struggle on the glass and the Wildcats were able to do just that.

"I thought the highlight of the game for us was simply being able to play 40 minutes with eight turnovers," Miller said. "I think that is a real key stat for our team.

"There's not a doubt in my mind, our team has the ability to play with ten or fewer."

Aaron Gordon led Arizona in scoring, but once again struggled at the line. Afterwards, Miller did not seem to be too concerned with how he is currently shooting it.

"Aaron Gordon on offense, a deceptive 21 because he could have had 25 or 30 points with his free-throws," Miller said. "I am not concerned with his free-throws. He made 85 out of 100 today, he is getting better. He just kind of needs to relax and let it happen in a game.

"I don't know if he will ever be a great free-throw shooter this year, but he is going to be better than the percentage he is currently shooting"

Arizona does not have a game until Monday, but the status of Tarczewski will likely be unknown until then.

"We're taking it one day at a time," Miller said. "He would not have been able to play tonight. it's not as if we were just holding him out.

"I think the injury that he has, every couple of days, especially now without school, he is able to really work throughout the day with Justin and continue to get better.

"We're going to take it slow. We want to make sure he is at his best for the Pac-12 and I have my fingers crossed that 7 to ten days from now he is in a much better place, but we are really working hard right now to get him back."

Wildcat Authority Top Stories