Arizona Basketball

Chemistry: Minutes projection and where each Arizona Wildcats player must fall into place



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Sean Miller believes team chemistry is not a concern but it is something that must be ironed out

Sean Miller believes team chemistry is not a concern but it is something that must be ironed out’s Jon Rothstein, in a Q & A with Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller yesterday, touches on the always-important topic of team chemistry and how that relates to this season’s team.

“We start all over again,” Miller, whose team starts practice Friday, told Rothstein. “When you lose Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon and you talk about having great chemistry, they were a huge reason why. It’s not just who they were on the court or their production, it’s who they were in the locker room.

“They wanted to win. They played for Arizona every day and nobody else. They had individual goals that they wanted to accomplish but the most important thing for them was making sure that our team was going to be in the best possible position to have success.”

Miller went on to say that members of the 2014-15 team are in “different roles and those roles have yet to be sorted out … Team chemistry isn’t necessarily a concern or an issue, but it’s something we want to sort out. We’re definitely a work in progress in that area.”

Arizona has four five-star recruits on its roster dating to the Class of 2012 when juniors Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley signed.

In the last two years, five-star recruits Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson, wing and perimeter players with NBA aspirations, have been added to Miller’s roster.

How will the influx of Stanley Johnson mesh with veteran guard Gabe York, for example? Miller mentioned to Rothstein that York is somebody who could emerge as a factor by the time the Pac-12 season starts.

“Gabe has waited patiently since his freshman year,” Miller told Rothstein. “He’s gotten bigger and stronger. He’s motivated by things that used to motivate college players. He played a little his freshman year and got hungrier to have a bigger role. He had a good year for us last year and he’ll have a bigger role this year.


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Players listed in projected rotation. Minutes must total 200 in a game. Thirteenth scholarship belongs to Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson, who must sit out the season per NCAA transfer rules. Non-scholarship players not listed but will obviously play.
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“He can really shoot and that’s critical to our team. We need him to make shots and he will because that’s what he’s known for but he’s more versatile and he’s a better player than he was last year. I mentioned that Rondae had 110 practices under his belt and Gabe has 220 practices under his belt. I have no doubts that he’s going to be a significant contributor to our team and make a major impact.”

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So how will all the pieces fall into shape with every player, it seems, having an impact?

Here is one man’s brief opinion on each player with what role they must assume (one reminder, Miller likes to employ many players so it will be rare to see a player average more than 35 minutes a game):

T.J. McConnell, senior point guard: Takes over for Nick Johnson as undisputed leader as a senior who handles the ball the most. No limitations on minutes played but will likely be about 30.

Stanley Johnson, freshman off guard: Defensive stopper who like Nick Johnson can guard anybody whether it be point guard, shooting guard or small forward. Overall talent and physical abilities qualifies him as a starter who should play close to 30 minutes a game.


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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, sophomore small forward: After proving to be a valuable sixth man last year because of the energy he brought to the lineup, Hollis-Jefferson deserves to start. He will play 25-30 minutes a game.

Brandon Ashley, junior power forward: Coming off his foot injury that sidelined the second half of the Pac-12 season last year, Ashley will likely ease back into his role as an offensive threat, extending defenses at that position. A starter who will likely average close to 25 minutes a game.

Kaleb Tarczewski, junior center: No limitations for Zeus, who is much more agile and physically capable to handle 30 to 35 minutes a game at the post than he was as a freshman and sophomore. Should average about 30 minutes a game.

Gabe York, junior guard: All York needs to know — Jason Terry waited until his senior season to finally have a starting opportunity after proudly handling the sixth-man role. His team-first mentality coming off the bench, with freshman Mike Bibby starting ahead of him, was one of the unsung reasons why Arizona won the 1996-97 national title. York, a much-needed perimeter shooter, will likely play close to 20 minutes a game.

Gabe York is a player who should emerge as one of Arizona's top contributors by the start of the Pac-12 season, according to coach Sean Miller (YouTube video capture)

Gabe York is a player who should emerge as one of Arizona’s top contributors by the start of the Pac-12 season, according to coach Sean Miller (YouTube video capture)

Kadeem Allen, junior guard: Versatile enough to handle a backup role at point guard or shooting guard. He will be most vital late in the regular season and postseason when depth is at its most important. Likely will average close to 15 minutes a game.

Elliott Pitts, sophomore guard: Development will likely be similar to that of York with a need to work on all-around game (defense and producing off the dribble). Most important with ability to hit shots from the perimeter. He will likley play 10 to 15 minutes a game.

Craig Victor, freshman power forward: Ideal situation for him, not in terms of minutes, but in valuable training experience playing behind Ashley and alongside senior reserve forward Matt Korcheck. Should get his lumps in early and be a reliable player come postseason. He will likely play about 10 minutes a game.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright, freshman point guard: In the five to 10 minutes McConnell is out of the game for rest or potential foul trouble, Jackson-Cartwright will fill in and thrill the crowd because of his size (5’8″ and 150 pounds) and playmaking ability.

Dusan Ristic, freshman center: The Serbian may take a while to adjust to American basketball and Miller’s system. He will likely play 5 to 10 minutes a game or so revolving with Victor and Korcheck in replacing Tarczewski and Ashley.

Matt Korcheck, senior power forward: Understands his role as an important physical practice player and reliable presence when Arizona plays a frontcourt with size. He will likely average about 5 minutes a game. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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