2/24 Basketball Notebook

Sean Miller met with the media on Monday. Read on for his thoughts on T.J. McConnell, Aaron Gordon's recent performance, and more.

  • Arizona's performance against Colorado was not a complete surprise to Sean Miller, as the Wildcats have practiced well of late.

    "We've really practiced well recently," Miller said. "As late as it is in our season, sometimes you almost want to fast forward from one game to the next and in between isn't as important.

    "There are teams that continue to grow and get better in between games. Work, invest, try to become a better team. We have been that team from really the start all the way through and we have had very few blips on the screen added to chemistry and most of the time those things are happening on days of practice."

  • T.J. McConnell followed his disappointing performance against Arizona State with a road trip in which he did not turn the ball over.

    "That's something he is good at," Miller said. "Really from the onset T.J. has taken care of the ball and it's like a college quarterback. As much as you trust him, as responsible as he is, as well as he may see the field, there are always those games for whatever reason where he makes a bad decision or the defense plays great and because of that he has a few uncharacteristic turnovers.

    "I would say the same about T.J., that his six turnovers in the Arizona State game were one of many things we didn't do well in that game and that is why we lost, but to see him respond on this trip, you can't put a value on that, on how well he runs our team and how much easier the game is because he's out there playing that way.

    "Not to mention his steals. You think about the steals that he had, the assists that he had, the zero turnovers, to me there isn't a point guard that played any better last week than he played for us."

  • Aaron Gordon is another player that bounced back nicely and a lot of that has to do with his ability to get some easy baskets.

    "If you watch Aaron's baskets in the second half, he was the beneficiary of some really unselfish play," Miller said. "He got out in transition, he ran the floor, but his teammates found him. He really let the game come to him.

    "I thought a few of the times where he created on his own, he did it at the right time, on the right spot on the floor, and you could see his confidence growing as the game goes on."

  • Arizona's defense as a whole was extremely impressive, but Gordon was able to excel with arguably the toughest assignments.

    "I think the other part of last week is that we had two players we respect a great deal, Xavier Johnson on Colorado and Jordan Loveridge on Utah," Miller said. "If you look at their points per game and when they play really well how that impacts winning and their own team, what we were able to do defensively against both those players was a big reason why we went 2-0."

  • It may not have led to more than a loss, but Arizona had struggled before this previous week. Still, Miller insists the Wildcats never lost confidence.

    "Winning breeds confidence," he said. "We've never lost our confidence though. You guys may have lost confidence in us, I know we struggled. Among our struggles I feel like we have kept our head above water."

  • One of a coach's biggest challenges this time of year is keeping his team focused instead of looking ahead to the postseason.

    "There is so much hysteria surrounding March and rightfully so, it is an exciting time," Miller said. "Everybody seems to have an opinion and it can be very distracting for a group of players, a team, a coach.

    "Our way of getting there has to be that we stay with the task at hand. It is easier to do in November because a lot of the talk at that point is about football and we're not even talking about basketball. Now here we are at the peak, so it is easier to stay with that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday practice.

    "We're trying the best we can to stay all in and work on the things we know we have to work on. The minute you seem to worry about those things that aren't here yet, take your eyes off what is most important, all of a sudden you don't play well and in our case, especially this week, if we don't play well against Cal and Stanford, we're not going to win because they are both very good teams."


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