Sean Miller working to find right lineup

Sean Miller continues to look at different lineups and breaks down the possibilities.

Arizona’s first exhibition game is Sunday against Chico State, but it appears that Sean Miller is still working to find the right lineup.

In fact, there are competitions at numerous positions, including point guard.

“Parker Jackson-Cartwright is more of a true point guard,” Miller said. “He plays only one position. There are some days I think Parker does an excellent job, but Kadeem’s size and length is a great matchup for any guard and I really believe it is bringing out the best in Parker. 

“Judging our point guard position now, what I hope is that every game and every week you see incremental improvement. You would see as they get game experience and keep adding to practices, they learn their trade better and become more dependable across the board.”

Allen is likely the better slasher and defender, with his versatility currently helping his role as well.

“Kadeem Allen came to Arizona not to play just one position, he came here to play two positions,” Miller said. “He did it at the junior college level and he did it at the high school level where he has played some point guard and some off guard. 

“If you average the points per game that he did at Hutchinson Junior College, you know he can play with a point guard. Early on, we have really allowed him to play a lot of point guard. I think that helps him develop.”

Defensively, Allen has been one of the more impressive players in practice.

“He has great ability as a defensive player and based on the players that have left us recently, we’re looking for him to inherit that role to be able to contribute and guard the other team’s best perimeter player and he has shown that through the first couple of months here,” Miller said.

With Ray Smith going down, a three guard lineup as become a possibility, though there is work to be done if that is going to become a reality.

“We could play Allonzo Trier and Gabe York together with a point guard,” Miller said. “That gives us maybe some strength offensively, firepower, and shooting. 

“We’re certainly going to be smaller on defense. A lot of that depends on how those three guys work together on defense. You can really sacrifice a lot when you start playing that small.”

Mark Tollefsen has been competing mostly at the four in practice because of Smith’s injury and a sprained ankle for Kaleb Tarczewski.

“Mark Tollefsen we knew when we brought him here was going to have the opportunity to play both the three and four,” Miller said. “For him, playing as much three as we expected and maybe even more. 

“Mark gives you more of a traditional small forward. He is 6-foot-8, can offensive rebound, and can also make open shots. 

“He hasn’t played a lot in practice there because we have been down without Kaleb and Ray, but I think that has also been good for him. Giving him a blend of inside and outside will develop him the fastest way that we can.”

If there is one player that could surprisingly enter the starting five, it appears to be Elliott Pitts.

“Elliott has really made a jump from his first and second year to now,” Miller said. “He knows our system inside and out. Now it is a matter of watching him do it in games. We expect Elliott to be a major contributor this year.

“Elliott is the furthest along defensively. He is one of our team’s best overall defensive players. Kadeem Allen and him are very dependable when it comes to being in the right place and taking on the challenge of playing against some of these elite guards we’re going to face.”

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