Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats vs. Cal State-Northridge: Top three storylines



While T.J. McConnell is running the offense, especially in a half-court set, he should look for his shot too.

While Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell is running the offense, especially in a half-court set, he should look for his shot too ( video screen shot).

[ezcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=””]

Top three storylines for tonight:

1. Continuing development of rotation.

Arizona coach Sean Miller did not plan it that way but four players finished with 28 minutes against Mount St. Mary’s on Friday night — Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski, Gabe York and T.J. McConnell.

Miller and his staff planned to play the impact players the most and those players along with Stanley Johnson (24 minutes) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (21) fall into that category.

Those six players will likely be part of Miller’s main rotation come Pac-12 season in January.

Who will be the next two to three players in an eight- or nine-man rotation will depend on who Arizona is playing — a guard-oriented team or a team with size. Guards Elliott Pitts (17 minutes) and Parker Jackson-Cartwright (11), and frontcourt players Dusan Ristic (7) and Craig Victor (6) provide that flexibility.

When Miller was laying the foundation for his mark on Arizona’s program in his first three seasons (2009-10 through 2011-12), he used a rotation of nine players who averaged double-figure minutes. In the last two seasons, that number has decreased to eight in 2012-13 and only seven last season.

Last season a significant drop existed from York’s 21.8 minutes per game as the seventh man to Pitts’ 8.4. That lack of bench strength makes Miller’s job of getting Arizona to the Elite Eight that much more impressive.

2. Reggie Theus Arizona candidate revisited.

The headline in the Tucson Citizen in 2008 reads: “Theus says he’s interested in UA job”.

The Cal-State Northridge coach, formerly the head man at New Mexico State and the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, told sportswriter Steve Rivera: “I’ve been a fan of (retired coach Lute Olson) since I was a kid. He’s created such an atmosphere down there. I’ve seen a lot of positive things from that community for a long time.”

Theus was a week removed from his firing from the Kings at the time of the interview on Dec. 17, 2008. The former UNLV standout was never a realistic candidate for then-Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood. Arizona targeted coaches who had proven success at the college level.


[ezcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

Tip Time: 6:06 p.m., Tucson time
TV: Pac-12 Networks (Roxy Bernstein/Matt Muehlebach)
Radio: Arizona IMG Sports Network (Brian Jeffries/Ryan Hansen)

Overall: Never met
Sean Miller vs. CSUN: 0-0


Perfect gift for any Arizona or college hoops fan this holiday season: A complete rundown of the Arizona basketball program as we might not know it put together by longtime Tucson sportswriters Steve Rivera and Anthony Gimino. Please e-mail Rivera, Gimino or for ordering details.

CLICK HERE to read Javier Morales’ review


Players who averaged double-figures in minutes under Miller in his first five seasons at Arizona. This graphic takes a look at the highest minutes dispersed and the lowest with the number of players who averaged double-figure minutes.
[table “” not found /]

[ezcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=””]

He coached New Mexico State to a 25-8 record in 2006-07 but then bolted to the Kings after only two seasons in Las Cruces. That quick move and Theus’ lack of success in Sacramento affected his opportunity to even get an interview with Arizona.

Theus is in his second year at Northridge after his name surfaced in potential jobs at USC and Georgia over the last five years. The Matadors finished 17-18 in his first season.

3. McConnell’s moves.

Miller commented before and after the Mount St. Mary’s game that he wants McConnell to shoot more to prevent defenses from dropping down on Arizona’s interior players.

McConnell still took 10 shots, which tied Ashley for the team lead. It will be interesting to watch how McConnell responds tonight, especially in the first half.

His career-high in field goal attempts happened with Duquesne in 2012, when he made 10 of 16 shots from the field against St. Joseph’s.

McConnell’s high with Arizona last season was against ASU, when he made 7 of 15 while scoring a season-high 19 points in Arizona’s 91-68 win at McKale Center.

In his 39 games with Arizona, McConnell has reached double-figures in field-goal attempts only nine times. That’s not surprising given he is a point guard and the talent around him dictates more shots to others. What Miller is looking for from McConnell is taking a shot within the flow of the offense in a high-percentage situation.

Instead of immediately thinking of the pass McConnell must keep an eye on the rim. That could be a lot to ask. But McConnell is a fifth-year senior. If anybody could handle that, he should.

McConnell’s tweet after Casey Skowron, yesterday’s hero with a game-winning 47-yard field goal against Washington, missed in the same opportunity against USC last month.


[ezcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

[table “” not found /]

PP: Productivity Points (Points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, FGs made, FTs made added together and then subtracted by missed FGs, missed FTs, personal fouls and turnovers)
MIN: Minutes played overall
PR: Productivity rating per minute played (Productivity points divided by minutes played)

[table “” not found /]


Don’t forget to vote. Championship matchup of the Arizona Wildcats Best Play Bracket:


For mobile devices,
PLEASE CLICK HERE to access poll. 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.

To Top