Sean Miller often talks about the “newness” surrounding the Arizona Wildcats this season, and rightfully so.
They have five new starters, several newcomers, two new assistant coaches and, now, postgame awards.
Following every game this season the UA coaching staff will be handing out performance-based accolades to highlight individual effort. Six of them to be exact.
- Player of the Game
- Hustler of the Game
- Sixth Man of the Game
- Playmaker of the Game
- Defender of the Game
- Screener of the Game
Miller described each one.
“We have the player of the game, the guy that statistically did the best job,” he said.
“We have the hustler of the game, somebody that gives himself up, first to the floor, hard plays on the ball, drawing charges. A lot of evidence to back that up.
“Sixth man of the game, that’s the player that doesn’t start but impacts the game in a big way as a non-starter. That’s a big, big award because you want depth, you want different people to contribute in different ways.
“Playmaker of the game, the guy that (led in) assist-to-turnover ratio, really found his teammates. In some cases, Justin Coleman is a great example, three or four of his passes could have been an assist, a guy just missed a wide open shot. We’re taking that into account.
“Defender of the game, from our coaching staff’s perspective, the guy who did his job. For the most part somebody who just really embodied the qualities that we wanted to see, and did it best.
“The last one is the screener of the game, and sometimes that’s unselfish and overlooked because that doesn’t stand out. But same thing as an assist: guys start setting great screen freeing up teammates. Sometimes the shot misses, but he was wide open for a reason. We want to promote that.”
Miller said Dylan Smith won the defender and hustle player awards in the season-opener against Houston Baptist, but the other winners were not disclosed. That will probably change moving forward.
“I think we’re going to start posting those when we move to the next game and share that with our fans,” Miller said.
Arizona also introduced official team captains this year. Coleman, grad transfer from Samford, and Chase Jeter, and transfer from Duke, earned that title through a team vote, and now have a ‘C’ emblazoned on their jerseys.
“We talked a lot this fall, this summer, about kind of implementing things to establish our way of doing things,” Miller said. “In the past, leadership always emerges as the year goes on, but we didn’t necessarily vote for captains. This year we did. I think that’s something that the families of those guys should feel really good that they earned the respect of the coaches and teammates to be the two people to be our captains.
“The other thing I like about Chase and Justin is they’re not young. They have a track record of college basketball. Both have been in other programs, they’ve overcome adversity, they’ve worked really hard. This is the final stop for those guys and I think they want to make the most of it. I think we’re really excited about the fact those guys are our leaders.”