Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats Productivity Report: Miller successful in first true road games but each different challenge

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Arizona’s top five active productivity players had only a combined nine starts before this season and all of those starts were by junior center Dusan Ristic.

Top producer Lauri Markkanen was in Finland at this time last year and fellow freshmen Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons were in high school . Power forward Keanu Pinder was at Hutchinson (Kan.) Junior College.

Ristic is the only one of these five players who has made a start in Arizona’s first true road game — last year at Gonzaga, a game in which Arizona won 68-63. Ristic had a decent game with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field with four rebounds.

ARIZONA’S FIRST TRUE ROAD GAMES UNDER MILLER

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Senior guard Kadeem Allen had 28 starts at Arizona to his credit before this season, but he is currently the No. 6 productivity player out of Sean Miller’s seven-player rotation.

Allen also struggled in Arizona’s game at Gonzaga last year, his first true road game at this level, shooting 0-for-7 with no points in 20 minutes.

So what does this mean?

Arizona is going into the great unknown at Missouri this morning. How will these players with little or no experience in true road games handle the challenge?

In Miller’s previous seven first games in a true road game he is 6-1 with the lone loss at Oklahoma in his first season in only his sixth game. He is now 258 games into his Arizona coaching career with a 195-63 record.

The success built up over the years and his ability to have his team rise up for the most part in the first true road game must play a factor in this morning’s game.

But what gets lost is a road game goes beyond playing in front of what could be hostile crowd with referees who may be inclined to blow more whistles against the visiting team (which is perilous with Miller going only seven deep with healthy and eligible scholarship players).

It includes the travel. Columbia, Mo., is a remote location that is not a direct-flight city. It involves a very early-morning wakeup call and a different pregame setup at a hotel than playing at home.

Psychologically, a player knows this will be different than the neutral-site games Arizona has played in Hawaii, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. They can see fans lining up at the opposing arena when they are on the bus. It is a different scenario than they are accustomed to at Arizona to this point.

Miller has pushed the right buttons coaching Arizona to wins in the last six years in its first true road games. But, again, this team is different as most are from year to year.

If Arizona produces to form as a 20th-ranked team, a victory should happen against Missouri. Can anybody say that will happen with most of the players new to this experience?

It is a mystery indeed.

WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY RATING?:
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)

SEASON PRODUCTIVITY RATING
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PRODUCTIVITY REPORT
ARIZONA PAC-10/12
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:
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PREVIOUS GAME
ARIZONA 79, CAL-IRVINE 57
PRODUCTIVITY RATING

* — STARTERS
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ARIZONA SCHEDULE/PRODUCTIVITY RESULTS
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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