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Arizona basketball: Allonzo Trier could move into the Wildcats’ starting lineup soon

Sean Miller says Trier will play the minutes “he deserves to play.”

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at UCLA Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With Allonzo Trier’s suspension now being a thing of the past, the Arizona Wildcats’ next obstacle is smoothly transitioning the guard into the rotation.

Trier made his debut Saturday in the win over the UCLA Bruins, posting 12 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Miller called Trier’s performance “striking” considering it was his first appearance of the season, but he admits they still have to “iron out” what his role will be moving forward.

Naturally, some players are going to lose playing time — but Miller thinks it will be in a way that actually benefits them.

“It’s not like any of our players is going to go from playing the entire game to all of a sudden 10 minutes,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of guys that are going to play less. But I think it’s going to bring out the best in them.

“Allonzo is going to play the minutes he deserves to play. If he’s one of our best players, then why should he play less minutes, regardless of when he came available? It’s going to take us a few games to iron this whole thing out, to make sure that he’s all set. And make sure that our team is comfortable. We’re in that period right now, obviously, but I’d like to think that as we get through this week and into the following week that we’ll all be really sure of ourselves.”

Miller is not at a point yet where he is ready to make a decision on putting Trier into the starting five, but don’t expect the sophomore to come off the bench all season.

“I think we’ll let these three days iron that out,” Miller said. “And there could be a time here very, very shortly that we’ll start him. But I’m not gonna hold him back and not start him because he just started to play. I think what we owe Allonzo is that if he’s clearly one of our five best players, then he deserves to start.”

One thing holding Trier back at the moment is his conditioning.

“His conditioning will get better,” Miller said. “He’s in great shape. He’s always been somebody that can run forever, but there’s a big difference between playing in your 20th game and playing in your first game.

“You can be the greatest athlete in the world and your body just gets used to the grind, that two-hour period of time. Even like the day, from the shootaround to the long warmup, all the way through the game, it takes a little bit of an adjustment period. That is something that he hasn’t done. He’s gone through shootaround, but he hasn’t gone through everything A through Z. UCLA is the first time he did and he’ll have a chance this week to do it two more times and I think he’ll be that much more ready.”

Arizona is 18-2 overall, 7-0 in Pac-12 play and in the midst of a 12-game winning streak. Nonetheless, Miller isn’t worried that integrating Trier into the lineup will interfere with the Wildcats’ recent success.

“I think we have a great group of guys,” he said. “We talk a lot about winning. Every coach does. The history and tradition of our program it breeds high expectations, whether you like it or not. For us to embrace it, you want to have the best chance to be successful. Depth is something that everybody recognizes that gives you that.”

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