clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What Sean Miller said after Arizona’s win over Colorado

sean-miller-good-coach-arizona-wildcats-basketball-contract-rankings-hot-seat Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats picked up their first Pac-12 win of the season Monday night, beating Colorado 88-74 to improve to 7-1 on the season and 1-1 in conference play.

Our full recap can be found here, and here’s the video and transcript of UA head coach Sean Miller’s postgame press conference.

Sean Miller post Colorado

See what Sean Miller had to say after Arizona's win over Colorado

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Monday, December 28, 2020

On the team’s preparation heading into the Colorado game: “I was really proud of our team and our performance tonight (after) going home for Christmas or not going home for Christmas and handling COVID at the end a semester. We were really, fully engaged and really attentive to detail and ready to play this game. If we don’t win the game, I have no problem with our team’s effort approach. I’m really proud of our group doing what we did and playing and beating a very, very good Colorado team, experienced group there.”

On Jedd Fisch’s hire as UA football coach: “I just wanted to welcome Jedd Fisch to Tucson and his family. I know he’s hard at hiring a coaching staff. I really look forward to meeting him. Thrilled that he’s here and, anxious to help him in any way that we can, or I can as a program to get Arizona football up and running. I’m excited about him being our coach so just wanted to start off welcoming him and his family to Tucson. I remember that same flight 12 years ago and I know there’s a lot going on, but we wish him well and wish him a Happy New Year.”

On whether Monday was the best Arizona has played all year: “I think so. Certainly we had an energy about us on offense. We executed. We made shots. That’s always a part of it. But when you play a game in the Pac-12 with eight turnovers, I think any coach in our conference would take that. That’s a great stat. We also got to the foul line 27 times and we converted 20 of the 27. Having said that, the percentages were also good. We won tonight because of our offense. We were clicking, we were efficient, and we got contributions from a lot of players. I’d like to credit Terrell Brown’s seven assists and no turnovers. I would say on the season right now he’s like 30 assists to three turnovers, which is amazing. James Akinjo with eight assists, two turnovers. Jemarl Baker three assists, one turnover, you add that up, that’s 18 assists and three turnovers, between our guards. So those guys were all in their own right terrific tonight.”

On Terrell Brown Jr.’s recent play: “One of the reasons that we were so excited to add Terrell is at Seattle, he was involved with a statistic of more assists per field goal made maybe almost than any player that played the game last year. Seattle was an excellent team of not turning the ball over and he had the ball in his hand a lot. So, putting him out there with James, allowing him to be in there when James is out of the game and then at times having Jemarl, James and him in together, you have a really agile ball handling group. They take care of it and they make good decisions and I think they make their teammates better, but they also have a way of making each other better too.”

On Christian Koloko’s energy and aggression against Colorado: “I credit Christian. Against Montana he didn’t have a good night. We talked about it. He became frustrated in that game because Christian is an incredibly hard worker. He’s one of our best practice players, he was last year. He doesn’t miss days. He doesn’t take segments off. He works and you want your hard work to translate to games, but as oftentimes is the case you need game experience to really settle in and gain confidence. Confidence is big for Christian. His mental approach, he came back had two really good days of practice, maybe took a break here over the holidays that was much needed, but he had his best game of the season tonight against a very good frontline.”

On whether Miller was confident entering Monday given his home success against the Buffaloes: “I think in the Pac-12 right now, you should be worried about every game. We have a terrific conference. A lot of returning players from a year ago, a lot of teams that are hungry to have great Januarys and Februarys now that the holiday season is over and Colorado is one of those teams. I believe they’re a postseason team. They have a great point guard in McKinley Wright. McKinley has been a good player for Colorado from day one. He was an excellent freshman. He was an excellent sophomore, junior, and he finds himself now maybe playing his best basketball of his career as a senior. On their team they really shoot the ball. They’re a skilled group. They have size. They play defense they play offense. And I think they have an excellent team so when you beat an excellent team you feel good about what you accomplished. Having said that, we’re about ready to go on the road. This is now the second experience. Hopefully the first experience will help us. And we’re going to have to be ready for Washington. I know they’ve had some time off. Their zone is very unique and we have to be ready to play a great game in Seattle.”

On Akinjo’s 3-pointer at the first half buzzer: “What we’ve been working on here, end of the game, is a lot of times players, especially guards, they don’t have a great feel for what six seconds means or what four seconds means. Really a second represents a dribble. At the end of the half or end of the game situation, you have that internal clock of, ‘okay there’s four seconds, I got four dribbles. There’s 6.3 seconds I got six dribbles’ because what you don’t want is a guy to stop short and shoot a 25-foot shot when he had one more or two more dribbles to get closer. So, it was just ironic that he took like that extra dribble, maybe even an extra two dribbles to get the ball all the way to the 3-point line and take that shot.”

On Arizona’s transition defense: “When you play Colorado, that’s a big point because they shoot the ball so well. A lot of great opportunities are found in transition, but really McKinley Wright, when he’s coming at you with a head of steam and he’s able to really go coast to coast and really push that ball, not a lot of good things happen for the other team. So, we tried to emphasize it like we always do. We work on it. I’ll know more when I watch the game again but for the most part I thought we got back. Here’s the thing about transition defense: when you play good offense, you’re efficient, and you have eight turnovers, that’s the number one thing that helps transition defense. When you’re turning it over 13 or 14 times, you have empty possessions or you’re not executing, sometimes you could be really good at transition defense but there’s no answer for two on ones, three on twos, broken plays. So, part of why we were able to get our defense set is we were a really efficient, good offensive team tonight.”

On Arizona’s ability to shut down McKinley Wright IV: “Defense is always a team item. We switch in ball screens, there’s help and recover, and there’s a lot of different things going on with defense. You have to give the credit to the team. However, the guy that’s matched up individually have to be on it. They have to give great effort, concentration. It wasn’t just James, but I though the guys that guarded McKinley worked hard because we know how important he is to Colorado. He’s a very, very good player. We played against Oscar de Silva. I think he’s one of college basketball’s best forwards — not Pac-12’s best forwards — but one of college basketball’s best overall players at that position. Tonight we played our second (Pac-12) game. I would say the same thing for McKinley Wright. He’s one of college basketball’s best point guards, and tonight James Akinjo was terrific on our end.”

On the short turnaround for Washington road trip: “We just have to be careful. Our guys don’t have school right now, but we have to be careful just in how long we’re going, how hard we go. There’s different ways to prepare for games in the next two days. We have to be careful physically with our team and be smart as a staff, be smart as a team and be the most ready we can be on Thursday. This year, I don’t mind playing the game that we just played in a Pac-1212 road trip week. Sometimes you’re like the third game is too much, but because we’ve only been able to play seven, I think playing games is helpful. We’ve had enough practices. We’re at about 50 practices. Part of what’s going to develop our team is games. I think playing tonight’s game, it helps our confidence, and in some ways maybe prepares us better for the upcoming trip.”