Arizona Athletics

Miller: Arizona didn’t have the “energy or the effort” to win Saturday

Arizona lost to Colorado 80-77 on Saturday afternoon in Boulder, Colorado. Let me first say, it wasn’t this close.

Maybe, just maybe for a second or two, but it wasn’t. From start to finish, Buffaloes gave Arizona fits. In fact, Arizona never held a lead. At one point in the first half Arizona was down by 20 points. Colorado looked more like Arizona than Arizona did.

Once again, Arizona proved to be vulnerable. And being vulnerable, in anything, isn’t a good thing.

Remember that all it takes is one bad game – in six – in the NCAA tournament and you’re done. Having one now won’t prevent one later, either.

Arizona fell to host Colorado 80-77 on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics)

Heck. if anything, Sean Miller took a look at himself a number of times – on the radio and in front of reporters discussing the game. He went as far as saying he can’t get them to play hard for him.

“They really struggle playing for me,” he said. “We will see where we go from here.”


Sunday was just a reminder that the Bahamas wasn’t long ago and some of the same issues are there.

Then again, I’ve always said, “Every game is a season.”

What you did last week means nothing for today.

Every. Game. Is. Different.

And Arizona wasn’t ready. Miller pointed that out a couple of times in his radio show … as he should have. Yes, it’s on him. It’s on his players.

“Our preparation for this game was not what we needed to be successful,” Miller said on his postgame radio show. More later.

As someone pointed out, when Dusan Ristic has more shots than Allonzo Trier something is amiss. But that was the case on Saturday. Ristic went 6 for 16 and Trier went 3 for 9. To be fair, Ristic did have 11 rebounds.

And how’s this? Double-double machine Deandre Ayton had just five rebounds, but added 26 points.

“We didn’t have the effort to be successful,” Miller said. “We didn’t have the energy in the first half. When you try to turn it on in the second half, it’s not going to work on the road. You’re going to get every team’s best shot.”

Through the years, how many times have you heard that? It happens all the time.

What’s more disconcerting is Arizona not being ready to play. In a rare self-evaluation, Miller blamed himself and his staff.

“We weren’t ready to play the game and as a coach that’s our job to get our guys ready and for whatever reason we were not ready for this game,” he said. “It really showed in the results, especially in the first half.”

Colorado looked like world beaters. It couldn’t miss a shot and Arizona looked lost. By the middle of the half, Miller had already exhausted all his timeouts.

Arizona was down 42-22 with 3:33 left in the half. Colorado made 18 of 28 shots in the half and had a 45-29 lead.

“They had 18 field goals and you’re not going to beat anyone with that defense,” Miller said.

What Saturday points out – again – is Arizona’s defense is hardly where it needs to be. But there are still two months to the important date of March. Clearly, lots to be worked on with plenty of talent. But how long will it take and is two months enough time?

Luckily for Arizona, nothing is determined in January … perhaps only that there is a lot of work to be done before the tournament.

And then, every game REALLY is a season.

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