Chance Comanche has been impressing Sean Miller in practice since school began in August, but that didn’t translate into results at the start of the season.
In the Arizona Wildcats’ first 12 games, Comanche scored in double figures just once, was committing more than five fouls per 40 minutes, and was, as Miller put it, repeating the same mistakes.
Comanche looked nothing like the player Miller was seeing in practice, but he stuck with him. The big man just needed more time.
“We see Chance everyday, so we know what he can do and when you’re a younger player who has a bigger role this year than a year ago, it doesn’t always click right away,” Miller said.
And, eventually, Miller was right — things finally clicked for Comanche as non-conference play came to a close.
The big man scored a career-high 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a 77-46 win over New Mexico in Arizona’s non-conference finale. He ran the floor, was an imposing force in the paint, and turned his athleticism into five thunderous dunks.
“That was the best game that he’s played this season, maybe in two seasons,” Miller said after that game. “I think that he showed, not only all of us, but himself that in a process things don’t all of a sudden happen right away. You have to go through the bumps that come with a bigger role, learn what to do, what not to do.”
But after Arizona had a ten-day break between games, it appeared Comanche had hit another bump.
In 20 minutes versus Cal in the Pac-12 opener, Comanche had just three points and a pair of blocks and rebounds, while turning the ball over twice.
For the most part it was a rough outing for Comanche. He looked like his early-season self, but his newfound confidence from the New Mexico game remained intact and later in the game against Cal it paid off.
With ten minutes left in regulation in a tie game, Comanche caught the ball on the low block and used a lightning-quick drop-step to score and draw a foul on Ivan Rabb.
It gave Arizona the lead and tacked on a devastating fourth foul on Cal’s star forward.
“That was a big, big moment in that game,” Miller said.
Not only did that play spur the Wildcats to victory, it propelled Comanche to a strong performance in the next game.
Two days later, Comanche posted his first career double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in a lop-sided 91-52 win over Stanford.
“This is the most confident I’ve seen Chance as a player,” Miller said. “Confidence with all of the young players is where it starts.”
After a rocky start, Comanche is now looking more and more like the player Miller witnesses everyday in practice — and the Wildcats sure are benefitting from it.
“We’ve seen this in Chance,” Miller said. “Now, it’s starting to show in games and it’s exciting to see because he has a lot of ability, no doubt. He gives us more depth, he gives us more firepower, and he’s really helped us.”
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