2/18 Basketball Notebook

Sean Miller met with the media on Tuesday to discuss numerous topics. Read on to see what he says about the team's health, T.J. McConnell's attitude, and more.

  • In addition to coaching his players, Sean Miller works to make sure that outside expectations don’t make their way onto the court as well.

    “You lose one game and because there are so many great expectations, it means you guys aren't very good, are you going to win the next game, Kaleb Tarczewski isn’t a very good player, we don’t play good defense,” Miller said.

    “You have to be able to block that out as a player, you have to be able to block that out as a coach, and most importantly in our locker room, we have to put a bubble around us to stay focused on the truth and that is, you’re not going to be perfect every game and even as an excellent player you’re going to have those moments where it’s not going to work out for you, you’re not going to have a good game.

    “It’s how you bounce back that says more about who you are as a player and as a team.”

  • One player that bounced back nicely this past weekend is Kaleb Tarczewski.

    “Kaleb Tarczewski was excellent this weekend,” Miller said. “I was really happy for him because I thought he put it all together. His defense was outstanding in both games. The fact that he was 6-6 against Washington State was great for us to see.

    “I think it gave him some renewed confidence and he’s really important down the stretch. When you think about the games that he has started and the role he has had for three years, he deserves to play well because he is one of those guys that works hard every day.

    “I was especially happy for him because coming off the ASU game, I think he had lost a little confidence and my hope is that he has it back from now until the end of the year.”

  • Speaking of confidence, McConnell’s attitude has gone a long way in how he has developed as a player.

    “I think one of the characteristics he brings to the program is that he is very humble,” Miller said. “There is always that side of him, because he has been an under dog coming from Duquesne and not a high school All-American, part of what makes him work so hard is am I good enough? Do I deserve to be here? Do I deserve to be a point guard at Arizona? Am I that good?

    “He always asks himself those questions and I think that spurs on a tremendous work ethic and competitive fire. I believe he crossed that threshold a while back where he knows that he can play the game and that he’s one of the best guards that’s playing this season in college basketball.

    “I think it is that confidence that has really allowed him to be an even better and more vocal leader than he once was.”

  • Arizona has been battling some injury issues, but it appears that everybody will be healthy for the Los Angeles schools.

    “Everybody is cleared to practice,” Miller said. “Parker will practice for the first time, I think this is day 21. He sat out 21 days of non contact, but he is cleared to practice.

    “We will see how he does moving toward the weekend. Dusan is feeling much, much better and he is also able to practice as well. People told me Rondae got hurt, but I don’t remember.”

  • When discussing how to balance keeping players healthy, Miller took the opportunity to compliment Gabe York.

    “It’s not easy, that is why you have to have a great practice environment,” Miller said. “Gabe York is a great example of that. In a very quiet way, he has done a really good job of being our backup point guard.

    “In every game that Parker did not play, Gabe got minutes at that position and he kept us moving and going. I really thought against Washington and Washington State, he became even more comfortable in that role.

    “We had him as the third string point guard since the beginning of the school year, but it did not really hit us until February. He has been working and ready, so that is a good example of making sure you are covered if you have a setback.”

  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson won the Pac-12 Player of the Week award and it shows that teams are recognizing all of the ways he impacts a game.

    “You forget he is only a second year player,” Miller said. “I think, like a lot of guys, the longer that he works the more consistent his approach has become every day. The game experiences that he now has, as a freshman it was around this time that I thought he jumped up and played his best basketball.

    “My hope is that the same thing happens here in his second year. What he is really starting to do is take the 15 to 17 foot jump shot, which has really improved since he came here. I think when he shoots that shot consistently and takes what they give him, I think he is an even better offensive player.

    “We talk about his defense and his defense was terrific again this weekend, I was excited to see him get the Pac-12 Player of the Week. I thought he got it in large part because of his well-roundedness. Sometimes player of the week awards focus on offense. I think you had to take into account what he did on defense for him to get it this weekend, which was nice to see.”

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