Arizona brings emotion in win

Sean Miller was happy with Arizona's intensity in Thursday's win. Read on to see what he says about that emotion and more.

Arizona had numerous players perform well on Thursday, but none set the tone like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

“Rondae does everything for us,” Sean Miller said. “He made some big plays defensively, shot block, and I thought a couple times in transition he really ignited the action. And he's, from a versatility perspective, maybe as versatile as any player that's playing college basketball.

“I say it all the time, he guards a point guard and a power forward in the same game. And we have great respect for Gonzaga. If you look at their season, they're a very difficult team to defend. Rondae guarded Pangos and Wiltjer in the same game. If you can name another guy that can do that, I'll be more than happy to hear the answer.”

The Golden Bears came out with plenty of emotion, which is not surprising at this time of year.

“It brings out a lot of emotion at the end of the year,” Miller said. “We're the team that's 29 and 3. We're going to take some punches.

“I've talked to these guys a lot about that. And when I say punches, I don't mean a punch, I mean effort. Cal played us really hard and physical.”

At this time of year, Arizona has to be prepared to play physical basketball.

“I thought the last weekend at McKale going against Stanford and Cal were two really physical games,” Miller said. “That’s to their credit, and we have to be ready to kind of match that physicality.

“Our guys are pretty good. I don't think I've ever seen one of our players throw a punch. They know that's not what this is about. Sportsmanship, play hard, play physical, but there's a line that we don't want any of them to cross.

“Sometimes the emotion of it as a coach, you have to make sure that we're in place. I didn't think as maybe scary as that three to five seconds was, I thought both guys held serve and we moved on.”

Arizona did well in the second half containing the post and much of that was due to strategy.

“It was execution,” Miller said. “We emphasized that. We respect Kravish a lot. Especially after last night's game. 25 points. We wanted to make his post catches hard.

“Thought a couple times when he trapped him, it really worked to our advantage. Sometimes when you trap a good low post player, you make everybody tentative, those that throw it to him and obviously the recipient of the ball.

“I thought our team did a good job executing that, but again Brandon and Kaleb are experienced. Rondae is experienced. Kaleb, in particular, he doesn't get nearly the credit that he deserves as a defensive player.

“If you just watch him closely, he's in the right place and he anchors a lot of the good things we do. Just like these other guys, T.J. out front, Stanley, Rondae. It's a team effort.”


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