There are not many undefeated teams left and with Arizona’s loss to UNLV earlier in the season, numerous issues were brought to the attention of not only fans, but the coaching staff as well.
For Sean Miller, the first major issue is the way that the Wildcats have struggled on the offensive glass.
“I think our offensive rebounding is really a surprise to me,” Miller said. “If you look at the team that we have and consider that a lot of the players on this year’s team were a real factor a year ago, just look at how we offensive rebounded through 38 games last season keeping in mind that Brandon wasn’t a part of it in the last 18.
“If you look at how we’ve offensive rebounded, it’s astonishing. We have talked about it, but I don’t think we have done a good job as a coaching staff holding our players accountable, emphasizing it, and getting the most out of it that we can.”
When looking at the overall numbers, Miller does not really have a specific reason for why there have been struggles on the glass.
“Numbers don’t lie,” he said. “If you just look at the percentage we get on the offensive glass, it’s very poor. I think it is one of the worst in our conference.
“We have guys with eight less, ten less. Aaron Gordon was a terrific rebounder and an excellent offensive rebounder. Stanley Johnson is our leading offensive rebounder right now, so it’s not as if we didn't replace Aaron with somebody who is doing a pretty good job."
The second aspect of Arizona’s play that has bothered Miller has been the free-throw shooting.
“I think the second thing that really stands out is our free-throw percentage,” he said. “We are getting to the line more than we did a year ago, which is a great thing.
“If we’re able to shoot as many free-throws per game as we are now without being a factor on the offensive glass, I think we can get there even more in the future. Our free-throw percentage is not very good and we are much better from the foul line than we’ve shown.”
At this point, many of the free-throw struggles could likely be attributed to the mental aspects of shooting them.
“We’re not in good rhythm,” Miller said. “We have so many individual players that I think feel like they haven’t shot it well and when they take the foul line, they are taking the line almost like they are trying to correct something that hasn’t worked.
“It is kind of like that game within a game. It is about taking a breath and just making it no bigger than it needs to.”
It’s not all negative, however.
“I think that we played some very good defense,” Miller said. “You always want to improve and I would hope that our defense today won’t be as good as it will down the road, but if you put our numbers up statistically, our defensive rebounding, we have stolen the ball and created some more turnovers than we usually do.”
In addition, the offense has probably played better than it may appear at times.
“On offense, almost in a deceptive way, if you take UTEP and UNLV away, we have had some very good moments offensively,” Miller said.
“I think we have an upside to what we are doing. We haven’t hit that stride yet. I hope we can in the future and if we are able to stay healthy and work hard every day to improve, I think the best basketball in front of us.”