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Arizona coach Sean Miller, a coach’s son, is a smart man in all facets, from game strategy, to recruiting, to pushing the right buttons.
One of those buttons he put his finger on yesterday at McKale Center was “Impress the Recruits”.
With high-profile frontcourt recruits in the building yesterday for the Red-Blue Game, Arizona accentuated how it uses is big men throughout with the way forwards Ryan Anderson and Mark Tollefsen and center Dusan Ristic were used.
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Class of 2018 post player Marvin Bagley and Class of 2017 big man Jarred Vanderbilt must have been impressed. Class of 2016 power forward Lauri Markannen, sitting nearby, was captivated already enough to verbally commit earlier in the day.
Ristic took more shots (12, making six) than scorer-supreme guard Allonzo Trier, a five-star freshman who took nine shots for the Red team. Their teammate Tollefsen made all 5 of his attempts.
For the Blue team, Anderson was 4-for-8, trailing only senior Gabe York’s 11 attempts.
Overall, Arizona’s frontcourt players of Ristic, Tollefsen, Anderson and freshman Chance Comanche combined to attempt 29 field goals, making 18. And that was without the biggest man of them all, senior center Kaleb Tarczewski, out while nursing an ankle injury.
The seven other regulars — guards and small forward Ray Smith — were a combined 16 for 43.
The four frontcourt players averaged 7.3 shots a player. The perimeter players averaged only 6.1.
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Translation: Miller showed the recruits he can and will highlight frontcourt players.
Taking it one step further, Miller said this to the McKale crowd: “I’ve had a few coaches recently ask if I could borrow some of you, and I said no.”
Miller might have been hoping Bagley and Vanderbilt were thinking: “Are those some of the coaches recruiting me?”
Shrewd man, that Miller.