McConnell's attitude remains contagious

T.J. McConnell is clearly one of Arizona's leader. Read on to see why Sean Miller believes that is, how McConnell has approached games as of late, and more.

Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell came up big when Arizona needed him the most, which is one of the main reasons why the Wildcats beat Utah this past weekend.

“I put that up there as pretty much trying to do whatever it takes for my team to win,” McConnell said.

“They were going under screens and my pull up was going in, so I have to credit Kaleb and Brandon for screening the guys and I was making the shots. It was just an all-around good game for all of us.”

When McConnell realized his jumper was falling, he made the decision to be more aggressive.

“Coach Miller has told me to be more aggressive and last year he did as well,” he said. “He is telling me to be more aggressive and I am letting the game come to me.

“When I am hitting jump shots, they have to pressure me a little bit more, which gives me the lanes to drive and pass off to Brandon and Kaleb underneath and even Rondae and Stanley when they are cutting back door.”

McConnell’s performances in big games and ability to lead has worn off on his teammates.

“T.J. has great credibility among our team and coaching staff and program because he might be our team’s hardest worker and if not he’s near the top, and might be our top competitor or near the top, too,” Miller said.

“He’s consistent every day. Win or lose, he’s always trying to practice the game hard, trying to get better. He’s worried about winning or losing and when you do that, what you say means something.

“When words don’t mean as much is when it’s `I don’t care what you say because I saw you last week and the only thing you cared about was yourself. I’m not going to listen to a word you say.’

“There are guys who talk like that as well. T.J. is very consistent. He was a year ago, he was two years ago.”

Arizona played some of its best basketball of the season last week and part of that is attributed to being able to clear out the distractions.

“We don’t really pay attention to what people say,” McConnell said. “We obviously dropped one that we shouldn’t have against Oregon State and credit to them, but that happens sometimes.

“I thought we responded well. People are going to be talking bad about you at your worst and they’re going to be talking great about you at your best, you just have to stay even-keeled and take each game one step at a time.

“We have this motto that it is all about the people in the gym, nobody on the outside matters. We pretty much stay in tune to that.”

Now attention turns to a difficult matchup with Stanford and point guard Chasson Randle.

“I think he is one of the best point guards not just in the Pac-12, but in the country,” McConnell said. “I don’t think gets enough credit for how good he is and actually he is just starting to get the credit that he deserves. He is a terrific player and he is the reason Stanford is doing as well as it is this year.

“It is going to be a tough game no matter where you are and who you are playing on the road, but especially a team like Stanford with guys that have been playing for a couple years. They are going to really test us on Thursday.”

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