Last Thursday, not many people thought that Allonzo Trier would be able to play against UCLA.
That’s just one of the reasons why his performance against the Bruins was so impressive.
“Striking is how I would describe it because if you played at this level, the pressure of the game, there’s no practice for it,” Sean Miller said. “It’s just different.
“When you have the opportunity to play for the first time after missing 19 games and that game that you are allowed to play in is at UCLA, it has all the makings of a disaster. That player puts so much pressure on himself to be perfect and the speed of the game is different.”
Both Arizona and Trier’s approach to his suspension are a big reason why he was able to be successful right away.
“I think it says a lot about how prepared Allonzo is,” Miller said. “To the credit of our group, we have always treated him as if he could play the next game.
“The repetitions that he has gotten in practice, he has not been on the other team or the scout team, he has always been on our side. I think that helped his transition and it will continue to help his transition.”
Now that he is back, Arizona fans will be able to see how much better Trier has gotten.
“He is a much improved player from a year ago,” Miller said. “It’s night and day. He passes the ball better and understands the team dynamics a lot better.
“Defensively he is light years of where he would have been a year ago and the proficiency of him being able to make quality threes, I would say he and Lauri would be our two best three-point shooters.”
Trier’s return has also invigorated his teammates.
“It is not a one game moment,” Miller said. “It is up to us to build and get him and the team ready. We have a shot of energy when not a lot of other teams can feel that way.
“You have been at this for a while and you’re about ready to head into the second half of conference play, the calendar is turning to February. You as a coach guard against complacency and worry about practices not being as crisp and sharp as they once were.
“In our case it is like we have a new life. We have a different team and obviously there is more competition now than ever, so we have to make that to our advantage.”
Now that Miller has his complete team, he is able to look at the rest of the season instead of focusing on Trier’s status.
“I am looking forward to not looking back where now it’s about today forward,” he said. “We’ve lived that past and now it is incorporating a student athlete into what we do.
“Somebody that came back after his freshman year for all the right reasons, worked as hard as any person and player that I have coached.
“He came back to be a better leader, to be on a better team, and to overall be a more complete player. There’s a lot of kids that would have pouted or sat quietly on the bench, but he was the furthest thing from that.”
As well as Arizona played against UCLA, there’s plenty of room for improvement.
“I think we could be better across the board,” Miller said. “Allonzo brings a double digit scorer to the table, he brings an excellent three-point shooter to the table.
“At the end of games, he is a deadly free-throw shooter. he draws fouls instinctively. He gives us more firepower on offense. Now it is up to us to be even more efficient and organize that.”