The Arizona Wildcats completed a home sweep of the Rocky Mountain schools on Saturday afternoon, downing No. 20 Colorado 75-54 in one of their best performances of the season.
Our full recap can be found here. Below is what coach Sean Miller had to say about his team’s solid victory.
On the overall weekend: “We were ready to play today and we were ready to play against Utah. We’ve had some good practices. That doesn’t always mean you’re going to carry it into a game. We were a together group, played with tremendous energy and effort.
“Our team deserves all credit, as does our coaching staff, it is not easy to put negative losses—how you feel a week ago—behind you and bounce back. We had a really good week this week. I’m just really happy that we’re able to carry it into both games.”
On bouncing back from the Oregon trip: “The thing that happened to us Sunday is, there’s no shame in losing to Oregon State. Oregon State has a very good basketball team. And they’re old, they’re veterans. They were the better team, they beat us. But I’d say about the nine-minute mark that game, 10-minute mark, second half, we just quietly went away. And when you see that, that really strikes fear in me as a coach because (if) that happens, it can happen again. By the way, it’s not an easy thing to fix.
“We showed up in both games (this weekend), whether we were going to win or lose against Utah and Colorado, we had the fight in us. We had a cohesive, spirited effort. If we weren’t perfect, that’s fine. We weren’t going to go away. We were going to sustain that effort level through the 80 minutes that we played. That’s the thing that I’m most proud of, is that we did really play the game with great effort.”
On the rebounding: “To see our guys rebound the way they did today, 39 to 25. As you know, I’ve been harping on that, that’s been an Achilles heel of ours, and it’s great to see us start to get getting that right. I believe we’re becoming a better overall rebounding group. Nico Mannion deserves a lot of credit. He had seven rebounds tonight. He’s learning. There’s so many expectations on him that you forget he’s only 19. He’s figuring things out as a college basketball player, but when he rebounds like that, it takes a lot of pressure off of our big guys.
On Ira Lee: “I also thought Ira Lee was outstanding. His energy, his physicalness, he set the tone for us, especially in the second half. He just played very, very hard, he finished around the basket, he rebounded at both ends. Ira is one of our most consistent practice players, I think the guys on the team will tell you that, and when you’re like that sometimes you really can break through in games. (Today) he had a big day.”
On the offense: “I thought we created a lot of good shot opportunities. Colorado is a very good defensive team, and they’re not an easy team to score on. We weren’t perfect here this afternoon. On offense, I thought we had some really great opportunities we didn’t finish, drives or maybe shots around the basket. We had a couple open three-point shots they didn’t go down. If we would have been able to make those we would have had a really big afternoon.”
On distributing minutes: “The one thing about our team, because of how many new players that we have, I wish that we had it right beginning in November. Sometimes it takes some trial and error. And sometimes it takes a team that fails. You watch guys on the road versus at home. You always know more and more as time goes on. I think we know our team better now in mid-January than maybe we would have before Christmas. You learn the personality and you kind of see who can do what.
“So much of the game you have to go with a hot hand. That would be Max the other night. You’ve got to go with guys that are playing well, Dylan Smith. And to your point, Ira deserved more of an opportunity because of how well he was playing. Ira, in an old-fashioned way, is earning a bigger role because how he performed.”
On Max Hazzard: “When you see him shoot the ball, he’s an excellent shooter. I didn’t realize he only played 17 minutes (against Utah), you don’t score 24 points in 17 minutes very often.
“Not all of our players are equal when they pull up (for) three. Some make more than others. When you see that guy shoot every day, he can really, really get going. He’s got a quick release. He’s a little guy as well. So sometimes (he’s) a little further away from the line, you see how quick his release his, that’s what he has to do to get get a quality look off. I put him in a category of, if he takes an open three, regardless of where and when, I think it’s a good shot for our team.”
On Dylan Smith: “Dylan’s role, and who he is, and then his age, his experience, when he doesn’t play well and really has that off night, I think it affects our team. When he’s solid, from a chemistry perspective and just kind of how the game feels, I think we all feel better. Dylan is one of those guys, he’ll keep trying. He fights. He didn’t play well at Oregon State, a lot of guys didn’t, but it’s good to see him bounce back. He’s a senior, he’s been here for years.
“I go back to the Anaheim tournament in November. A big reason we were able to win that tournament is he was an all-tournament player. It’s good to see him play well.”
On Stone Gettings: “I think he’s got to get used to playing more minutes, playing in a starter’s role. I sense that, not in a negative way, but he was a little tight both games, he wanted to do well. He knew that we were counting on him. But I believe he’ll settle in as he’s in this starter’s role and has a bigger opportunity. I think he can do more and be better, I really believe that.”
On shooting early in a possession: “Quick shots have to be good shots. I’m not trying to hold our guys back at all. Trust me. We’re playing at a good pace. But you want to take quality shots because, on the road, if you take the quick ones and miss, boy it can really go the wrong direction and it puts a lot of pressure on the defense. So as long as we can play a good pace, take care of the ball and get quality, good early shots, we want to do that.
“You also want to make sure that you’re able to have balance and get the ball inside. A couple of our threes that went in tonight, the best look that we could get, it happened because the ball touched the paint, a post catch, a drive. And it’s just amazing, the shots that they go up from that point on, they’re just better quality shots.”
On the upcoming 3-game road trip: “We have a week ahead to get healthy, to have some really good practices. (We) go to a very difficult place at Arizona State and try to be as ready as we can. Take our act on the road, so to speak, and be the best team that we can be.
“I go back to the Oregon game. There’s a lot of quality play in that Oregon game. We just weren’t able to get over the hump. And hopefully we’ll play like that when we play our next road game.”
On Chase Jeter’s back: “I don’t have an update, other than I think he’ll let us know when he’s feeling better. He’s working hard with Justin (Kokoskie), like you would expect him to.”
On the addition of Georgetown transfer PG James Akinjo to practice: “We got a heck of a scout team. He’s out there and you’ve got Jordan Brown out there, it helps us. We’ve got another really quality player. James is very, very quick. All of our guards get an opportunity to play against him. He’s like fresh, too, he just showed up here, practice is everything the him. I though he helped our team even even for this weekend in the small doses that he practice. He represented the other team.
“We’re implementing him, and I think this coming week he’ll practice even more, which is a good thing for our team.”