As a defensive-minded coach, Sean Miller is always looking for ways to improve his team on that side of the court.
Watching the Arizona Wildcats get whistled for 11 offensive fouls in their wins over Grambling State and Eastern Washington has hatched an idea.
“We have to kind of join the party and flop, and run full speed and take fouls with our chest and slide in underneath,” he said after the EWU game with a heavy dose of sarcasm. “And any low post guy, when he turns, draw the charge, and teach it because those are big plays. Those are turnovers on the offense, fouls on the other team’s good player, and a lot of times it erases a basket.
“I mean, I think we had one or two where we were rim-running without the ball in transition, had our hands up, trying to get position. And if the defender just falls down, there’s a chance that it’s an offensive foul. It’s a hard game to watch and I think [college basketball] is really the only game that’s called like that. But that’s the rules, that’s how it’s being called, and I think it’s something that really even tomorrow we’re going to work hard on—fall down, fall down, fall down, run into screens, run into screens, just throw your head back and draw charges instead of trying to go vertical.
“Good players don’t get screened, that’s one of the things we try to talk with our defense. Don’t run into the screens, right? Good players don’t get screened. (They) avoid the screens. But running into them I think is beneficial right now the way the game is being called, and we certainly have to adjust to that. That’s 100 percent on me.”
While Miller isn’t being totally serious, Arizona does have a turnover problem. Its turnover rate (20.4) is the highest it’s ever been during his tenure.
“College basketball is so much about running full speed and just falling down, leaving the corners and a guy leaves his feet and sliding underneath them,” he continued. “And any big who’s got the ball in and around the goal, as he dribbles to turn, just fall down.
“I’m not even saying that to complain, but we have to do a better job of drawing the charge ourselves—on the ball, off the ball, bigs—because it’s crazy. If you run into a screen on defense, whether you’re on the ball or whether you’re off the ball, if you’re guarding the dribbler or the cutter I can make a strong argument that that’s not a good defensive play. You just ran right into the screen. So the offense benefits. But it’s almost like if you run into the screen it’s foul. And again offensively if you think about 16 turnovers and fouls on both Jordan Brown and Christian Koloko. I mean, we had to have five to seven, eight offensive fouls. And I think we had a handful against Grambling, so we have to clean that up ourselves.”