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Frustrated by offensive fouls, Sean Miller promises Arizona will draw more charges than ever

NCAA Basketball: Grambling State at Arizona Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats are getting dominated in an important, yet easy to overlook, statistical category.

Through six games, they have committed 25 offensive fouls while only drawing 11. In five of those games the Wildcats have committed more offensive fouls than they were whistled for. The other game? They were only even.

Here’s how that tally breaks down by outing:

  • 4 committed, 3 drawn vs. Grambling State
  • 7 committed, 3 drawn vs. Eastern Washington
  • 3 committed, 0 drawn vs. NAU
  • 2 committed, 1 drawn vs. Cal State Bakersfield
  • 2 committed and 2 drawn vs. UTEP
  • 7 committed, 2 drawn at Stanford

The lopsided margin means foul trouble, turnovers and worsened offensive and defensive efficiency, so UA coach Sean Miller is determined to narrow it.

“Tonight, I don’t know how many offensive fouls we had, but I promise you this—you’ll never see an Arizona team draw more charges moving forward than ours,” he said after the Stanford loss in which Arizona allowed more than 1.1 points per possession. “I promise you that. The way it’s being called, we have to adjust, I have to adjust. We have to get into position and take the charge on and off the ball. We have to force the action so that we can get a few of those plays. If it’s one-sided and we have seven to 10 offensive fouls in a game, and we’re not doing that to our opponent, it heavily favors the other team.”

Miller griped about the way college basketball is officiated after the Eastern Washington game, most notably about how defenses are rewarded for falling down and running into screens, even though that’s the opposite of what good defenses preach.

But at this point, if the game is going to be called that way, his team has to adjust—even if it means embracing some of those unconventional tactics.

“We’re six games in, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many offensive fouls called,” Miller said. “One time we were dribbling from one side of the court to the other sideline, like a cross, and they drew a charge on us dribbling sideways. It’s absolutely crazy. We’re gonna take some charges here. I’m excited about that. We have to draw charges. We have to cross body block, we have to go vertical in the charge arc, like the NBA does. We have to leave the corner and get there late, there’s so many things that I think we have to do a better job of to make our defense better. You have to make those hard plays on the ball, on a handoff, on a dribble handoff. We teach our guys on a dribble handoff to kind of go under, like show, trail and go under. We have to go through the guy’s arm, because we’re getting fouls on our handoffs because we dribble handoff and extend the arm. They’re kind of coming through to take it away.

“It’s not up to the officials to adjust, it’s up to the coach, the staff and the players. The offensive fouls have really hurt us, so we have to look at that, but we also have to draw offensive fouls on the other team, we have to take charges. I don’t know if we’ve taken more than maybe a handful of charges in six games, and right now you have to attempt to take anywhere between five and 10 a game. It makes no sense not to do that based on getting in legal guarding position in drawing the foul. I’m not trying to be funny. It’s what it is. Our defense has to improve and that’s one way we have to get back at it.”