One of the positions that Arizona has struggled to get consistent play from is the small forward spot.
Mark Tollefsen started the first two games of the season at the three and the only reason he did not start there this third game is because of an ankle injury to Ryan Anderson.
In fact, those injuries have impacted the entire team’s progress.
“One thing that has effected our entire team is that we have 12 guys on scholarship and 7 of the 12 have been injured,” Sean Miller said.
“These injuries have been like three to five day injuries. Early in the year when you have practiced 30 times, it effects the group.
“In Mark’s case, he has gone extended periods of times where he has played the four because he had to, he has gone extended periods of time where he has only played the three and in games he bounces back and forth. We haven’t been able to get him in a rhythm and he also was hurt for a week.”
Elliott Pitts missed the first game of the season and about a week of practice due to a knee injury that Miller believes has impacted him greatly.
“He sprained his ACL and missed five days of practice and our season opener,” Miller said. “You get out of a rhythm when you miss time. I don’t know if he has necessarily found that rhythm.
“He has taken some shots that are uncharacteristic of him. I almost sense it is not him trying to be selfish as much as trying to get on the board.
“He knows more than anybody that he is a better player than he has been and he wants to show it.”
Word from practice is that Pitts has been one of the better players and Miller confirmed that on Tuesday.
“Elliott is important to our team because he can really play three positions,” Miller said. “In a pinch he can play the four. He plays the three a lot and he has played the two quite a bit in his career.
“He has not played in a game like he has practiced. He’s a far better, more improved player on our team this year than almost any guy we have. His teammates would echo that sentiment.”
When reflecting on the small forward position, Miller believes the best is yet to come.
“I look at Mark Tollefsen and Elliott Pitts as being in the same category in that both guys have been excellent in practices,” he said. “The thing that is great about Mark is that he is a really clever passer and moves the ball exceptionally well.
“So far how he has played in the four games at Arizona hasn’t necessarily translated to how he has practiced every day. In fairness to him he is still getting both feet on the ground as an Arizona player and some of it I am sure is just settling in.”