Arizona was able to defeat Arizona State as the Wildcats came off a loss to UNLV and much of that had to do with how they approached that first blemish.
“It was tough coming off a loss,” Kaleb Tarczewski said. “Everyone comes here for one reason and that is to win. I think in a lot of ways the loss is going to be an eye opener for a lot of the guys on the team.
“It kind of came at the perfect time. We had a few days to relax and think about it. A lot of guys got to go home and spend time with their families and unwind a little bit, which is nice.
“I think we have done a really good job of strategically going at this and working on becoming a better team every day in practice.”
The loss also allowed each player to take a step back and focus on the goal at hand.
“I think everyone on the team is really focused on what we need to do to get better and really maximize our potential,” Tarczewski said. “We are all kind of on the same page right now.”
Still, there is plenty of room for improvement and one of the areas that needs it the most is free-throw shooting.
“I think it is mental more than anything,” Tarczewski said. “We all know we are pretty good free-throw shooters. I don’t think there is a person under 80 percent in practice on the year, so it is about getting through that mental block and being more confident out there. We will be fine.
“It is frustrating for everybody on the team. Those are points that are easy, kind of gimme shots. If we all focused a little bit more on making those, it would obviously make our team a lot better. I think practice is the key and mentally not making it more than it is.”
Sean Miller has also recently addressed concerns he has with Arizona’s offensive rebounding and Tarczewski understands the frustration.
“I think every year we have a different team and different personnel,” Tarczewski said. “Teams are choosing to play us a little different, which is a factor. I think a lot of it has to do with guys on the team trying to get a few more per game.
“Obviously when you get second chances, you have a chance to get to the free-throw line or get more points. With the free-throw attempts and offensive rebounding more, I think there is a lot offensively this team has left on the table.
“The good thing is that those can be changed with effort and practice, so I think if we methodically go about getting better at those few things, it is going to make this team a lot better.”
Ideally, Tarczewski would also like to see Arizona to continue to get out in transition.
“We have a lot of offense that comes in transition with how athletic some of the guys are and how good they are one on one,” he said. “I think that is going to be a key to us moving forward, is transition baskets.
“Those come off of defensive stops and I think becoming more at one on the defensive end is going to lead to more transition opportunities. That comes with becoming a better and stronger team.”
One of the ways that Tarczewski figures to get better and stronger is by competing against Dusan Ristic in practice.
“Dusan’s a great basketball player,” Tarczewski said. “Obviously he is very tall with a long wingspan, so it is great to go against him every day in practice. I have noticed incredible progress in his defense as the season has gone on.
“Being a freshman, it’s tough to come in and know exactly what to do. Coach Miller and him have done a real good job of making progress every day and he has been able to come in games and do a real positive job for us.”