Wildcats continue to accept roles

Each player on Arizona continues to accept his role and stick to it. Read on to see what Sean Miller has to say about that and more.

As Arizona gets closer to postseason play, the ideal situation for the Wildcats, or any team for that matter, is to be peaking at the right time.

"I think all of us as coaches would love our team to be playing our best late February, early March," Sean Miller said. "March is the month in college basketball and it's when we all move to our tournament, close our season, and obviously the nation is captivated by this month because of the NCAA tournament and what it's become.

"No question you want to be playing your best basketball. I don't know if there is a magic wand we can wave. Some of it is health, some of it is individual players who are peaking at the right time. For us, I think it is also making sure that our defense, which has really been the staple of this year's success, remains intact.

"That if nothing else, we can't lose that. That's been with us since the start and we want to make sure it is with us until the end."

Arizona's defense has been consistent throughout the season, but it is its offense that has really picked up as of late.

"The ball moves easier," Miller said of the offense now. "We share the ball maybe better right now. In transition I think there are more threats from the three, which a lot of times I think opens the court up for drives, maybe overall better spacing.

"That can be attributed to two players. Gabe York playing more minutes and Elliott Pitts playing more minutes. Elliott and Gabe because of how they have shot the ball, you have to really understand where they are at all times and they have definitely improved our spacing on offense."

Miller says it was not an easy decision to change the lineup and a lot of its success has had to do with increased confidence.

"I wouldn't say it was a no-brainer," he said. "I think there was a little trial and error there. You focus on the players that have been cast in a bigger role, but a little bit of what has happened with us is that the players that have started and been key figures for us the whole time, each of those guys have really settled into their own respective roles.

"I think some of it is everybody becoming more sure of themselves in their current role that we have them in."

One player that fits that description perfectly is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who Miller made sure to point out and give credit to.

"Rondae is an unselfish kid," Miller said. "He knew how to win before he came to Arizona, he's competitive, has a great spirit about him. Somebody that is in the role that he has, you want them to have kind of a positive energy and emotion attached to him.

"He comes into the game and many times we surge on offense and defense because he makes a lot of things happen. It does start with his mindset. I am sure every one of our guys would love to start and Rondae has never really gotten caught up in whether he starts or not."

When Hollis-Jefferson was told a few weeks ago that he would be removed from the starting rotation, he did not seem to have any issues with it.

"I think he understood it wasn't as if we were taking minutes or all of a sudden he was playing less," Miller said. "If anything, Rondae's role has increased since Brandon got injured. As his role increases and he is involved in more plays, he has gotten better.

"He's more equipped now to play more minutes. At first, it was just the difference between playing 23 and 30 and now I think he is more used to playing more minutes."


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