As Lauri Markkanen continues to work through a slump, many wonder if it is caused by opponents’ game planning, tired legs, or the freshman wall.
For Arizona head coach Sean Miller, it’s different.
“I really don’t look at it as being confidence with him,” Miller said. “I look at it as just him getting good opportunities.
“If he gets good opportunities, he will score or get fouled. It’s up to us, me and the coaches, to get him better opportunities.
“It’s not just him, it’s the four other guys being more observant, more efficient, putting them in a better position so we can exploit teams. I am very confident we are moving in the right direction.”
The coaching staff continues to work with Markkanen to be more aggressive and not rely completely on his shooting ability.
“Taking advantage of his size against mismatches and allowing him to get second shots and fouled more,” Miller said. “He was well on his way to doing that against Cal, he just got in really early foul trouble.
“He had a great drive early against Ivan Rabb and got fouled on the play. It wasn’t called and then he reacted to try to offensive rebound his own miss and he fouled Cal and they called that one. It was a strong drive, but he got tackled on the play.
“We want that out of him. A physical drive, offensive rebounding. Mixing that in with what he does naturally, shooting, is going to bring out the best in our team.”
On the bright side, the Wildcats for the most part have continued to win during Markkanen’s struggles.
“Defensively, our defensive rebounding against Cal was outstanding and it wasn’t nearly as good against Stanford,” Miller said. “It really shows how talented we can be when we are locked in.
“If you can do it against Cal, you can do it against any team in the country because they are great at getting second shots. Among the many things this week I was pleased about, being a more efficient team against a zone and rebounding against Cal. Both are really good signs for our future.
“When you have Allonzo and Lauri in bad foul trouble and you don’t get points from either that you normally get, it’s not easy to win. We found a way to win and I think we have a big upside. Normally they are going to score more points than they did last game.”