As Arizona enters the Pac-12 tournament as co-conference regular season champions, one of the biggest challenges that must be addressed is the three-point shooting slump of Lauri Markkanen.
“I think his strength that everyone has seen from day one has temporarily left him,” Sean Miller said. “He hasn’t shot the ball particularly well over the last month. I think that coincides in some ways with Allonzo returning to the lineup.
“I don’t necessarily believe that's why he’s in a shooting slump, but I haven’t really seen our team hitting on all cylinders offensively.”
The adjustment from FIBA Basketball to the collegiate level has contributed to the temporary struggles.
“He’s played a style of basketball that’s been very face up orientated and up-tempo,” he said. “That’s a 24-second shot clock in international FIBA Basketball and there’s a lot of similarities between that and the NBA.
“The college game is more physical around the basket and zone defense is much more prevalent as is different types of man-to-man.”
While Markkanen has gone 4-28 from three the past seven games, the Finn has been able to thoroughly develop his play in several additional areas, which will only help reestablish an efficient perimeter shot.
“Lauri has done an incredible job of learning how to utilize his size,” he said. “This has been through offensive rebounding, posting up, scoring closer to the basket and getting fouled and he’s developed in these areas more over the last six weeks than earlier in the year.
“His game is a blend now of being physical around the basket, posting up smaller players as teams try to take away the three-point shot. I don’t know if Lauri has ever played this game with this much of a blend on offense.”
“As Lauri settles in with his ability to make shots and combine that with some of things that he’s been able to do well over the last month, that’s the best Arizona you will see.”