Arizona coach Sean Miller sees progress. He also sees good things coming ahead. Maybe even a win – even if he didn’t say it after Sunday’s 67-60 loss to Colorado in Boulder.
But, doesn’t this misery of a losing streak have to end sometime? Maybe sometime soon? Maybe Thursday when winless (in the conference) California gets to Tucson to face the free-falling Wildcats.
It’s been a lifetime – seemingly – since Arizona has lost seven consecutive games, but here they are being mentioned in the same breath as former Ben Lindsey, the coach who was jettisoned after just one year. Back then – in 1983 when Arizona finished 4-24 – it went 14 straight games without winning.
Arizona is halfway there.
Still, record books aside, Miller said he’s optimistic, even in this weekend’s losses to Utah (Thursday) and Colorado. Positives are coming in small doses. He’s seeing good play in Ryan Luther (17 points), Dylan Smith (16 points) and is thankful for Justin Coleman. He said it gives him “a lot of hope down the stretch.”
“I told our team after the game we had a really good week,” said Miller on his postgame radio interview, “in terms of our effort level and process of being a better team, being ready for both games.”
He said his team “has established some good basketball” but was not able to sustain it for some of the crucial minutes. He does have his points despite Arizona falling to 14-12 overall and 5-8 in the Pac-12.
Arizona was down early in the first half after starting poorly, getting back from a double-digit deficit to make it a six-point game at half. It tied it early in the second half and looked like it could get a lead … then, Arizona showed up again, outmanned and outplayed.
Arizona couldn’t get that one extra defensive stop and it couldn’t hit free throws to stay close.
“Being able to make those plays when it counts the most – that’s what great teams and great players are able to do,” Miller said.
But as we all know that’s not the case this season: there no great players and this is not a great team. Instead, it’s one that continues to flounder near the bottom of the conference standings. It’s now 10th just ahead of Washington State (at team it lost to last week) and California (0-13 this season in league play).
Still, Miller remained positive on Sunday night, saying it was a good week and “we have a great group of guys. I think this week we have a chance to break through.”
It’ll have to wait until Thursday.