Rivera & Gimino: A Must Read if You’re an Arizona Basketball Fan

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The New York — Arizona’s backup point guard helps out

TUCSON, Ariz. – Gabe York’s near three-week apprenticeship as Arizona’s backup point guard might be coming to an end. But he’s better for it.

The junior shooting guard said the experience has been “different.” For sure, it’s been useful. He has backed up T.J. McConnell for the past four games while freshman Parker Jackson-Cartwright recovered from a concussion suffered Jan. 28.

“In practice I’ve done it all year,” York said of playing point guard, “so it’s not something that I’m not able to do or something that I’m not comfortable with.”

Still, when you’re a shooter — like York is — it’s a big change in mindset when you’re running the offense and thinking more about the pass.

“I liked it a lot,” York said. “I think I need to try to do a better job of knowing when to score and when to pass, but that all takes time and game reps.”

York has played well recently and is averaging 8.9 points per game, but his overall playing time might diminish slightly this week because Jackson-Cartwright was cleared to return for Tuesday’s practice. Whether Jackson-Cartwright will be ready to play Thursday vs. Southern California — or Saturday vs. UCLA — will be determined later.

York’s time with the ball in his hands didn’t go unappreciated, and he got a good education from McConnell. York called him “one of the best in the country” when it comes to point guards.

“I don’t try to do what he does or try to mimic what he does because I don’t think it’s  possible,” York said. “I just try to go out and play my game.”

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The Defense rested for Arizona … that’s not a good thing

TEMPE, Ariz. – Somewhere in the near future when the NCAA tournament selection committee gathers to determine the No. 1 seeds, it will review Arizona’s loss to Arizona State.

While at it, the committee will likely look at Arizona’s loss to UNLV. And, yes of course, the Wildcat’s loss at Oregon State.

They each are stunning as they are perplexing, especially given the fact Arizona lost them all in the same fashion: lack of defense.

“We did not get the job done on the defensive end,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said after Saturday’s 81-78 loss to the Sun Devils. The No. 6 Wildcats (20-3, 8-2 Pac-12) had “no rim protector and no physicality,” Miller said, adding things were too easy for ASU.

This from a team that hangs its hat on such aspects and continues to say defense is what defines it. Saturday afternoon, Arizona’s defense didn’t show up. Junior Brandon Ashley called it a lack of focus.

The result was for the third time in four years, ASU — considered to be the lesser team in all three games here in Tempe — found a way to win. Just last month Arizona defeated ASU 73-49.

It was a 27-point swing in the rematch.

ASU (12-11, 4-6) can thank Bo Barnes‘ shooting, Jonathan Gilling’s shooting, Savon Goodman near the basket and Tra Holder leading the charge. Arizona had no answers.

“We knew what to expect but at the same time knowing what to expect and performing to the level of your ability (is another),” said Ashley.

“We didn’t take anything away from them and I thought they were excellent,” Miller said. “Were we hitting on all cylinders? Absolutely not.”

All were things Miller mentioned about this week when he spoke about how the Sun Devils concerned him.

“They did it with what they’ve been doing and they did it exceptionally well,” Miller said. “And they picked on a number of our guys. The way Arizona State plays offense one side to the next really tests your discipline. We had very poor discipline.”

To read the rest of the story click here.

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Arizona ready for its trip to the Bay Area to face Stanford/California

TUCSON, Ariz. — Seemingly, all is right with the Arizona basketball program after two consecutive wins — even for a team still in search of its powerhouse identity.

But a team like Stanford, next up on the Wildcats’ schedule, could derail the recent progress.

Forget Arizona (16-2, 4-1 Pac-12) has won nine consecutive games against the Cardinal. The two play Thursday for at least a share of the conference lead.

The road has been nothing but trouble for No. 7 Arizona — at least on its two road trips — where hostile environments and stingy defenses left coach Sean Miller’s group looking, well, un-Arizona-like.

But there will be more to Stanford (13-4, 4-1) than just playing in Maples Pavilion; Arizona will be face one of more veteran teams in the conference and a team likely headed back to the NCAA tournament in two months, at least according Miller.

Stanford is coming off a 72-59 win over defending national champion Connecticut, and beat UNLV 89-60 to start the season and Texas (in Austin) 74-71 in December.

“They are having a great season and the reason is they are a really good team,” Miller said. “… They are very capable of winning our conference.”

After all, Miller said, the Cardinal could very likely have the conference’s player of the year in senior guard Chasson Randle, who leads the Pac-12 in scoring at 19.8 points per game and has the help of fifth-year seniors Anthony Brown and Stefan Nastic.

The duo of Brown and Randle, Miller said, could be one of the best backcourts in the conference, and Nastic could be one of the most improved players in the country.
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The trip, too, will mark Brandon Ashley’s return to the scene where he suffered a season-ending injury last season. That happens Saturday when Arizona faces California. Ashley suffered the injury early in the game vs. Cal as Arizona was attempting to win its 22nd consecutive game to start the season. Arizona lost, then had to readjust with life after Ashley, who has said numerous times in the last two months he no longer thinks about his one-time broken foot.

To read the entire story visit: http://www.foxsports.com/arizona/story/arizona-looks-to-conquer-road-with-trip-to-bay-012115


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The Sports Guys talking all things Arizona basketball


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Chemistry key in Success; Arizona must deal with departure of Victor

TUCSON, Ariz. – Six days into the new year, coach Sean Miller says seventh-ranked Arizona feels good about itself and its chemistry.

How it feels tomorrow and beyond, well, one never knows until you get there. Chemistry is a fluid situation.

Just hours after Miller’s assessment, Arizona announced that freshman forward Craig Victor has decided to transfer.

“We wish Craig Victor and his family well,” Miller said in a statement.

See how fluid it is?

“I’ll judge our chemistry on January 4th when we played Arizona State and I’ll do it all over again the next day,” Miller said in his weekly gathering with the media on Tuesday. “It only takes one day and you could go from what you think is a tight-knit group that will go on a vacation together to disarray.

“There are so many people tugging and pulling and so much selfishness at the core of college basketball that you don’t have chemistry for long periods of time. You have to work at it.”

Miller made no mention of Victor’s status in his Tuesday afternoon session.

Victor, from New Orleans, averaged 7.4 minutes per game and played five minutes in Sunday night’s victory over Arizona State. He averaged 3.1 points and 1.1 rebounds a game. He arrived at Arizona as a four-star recruit out of Findlay Prep in Las Vegas, rated as the nation’s No. 8 power forward by Scout.com.

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Arizona to retire Jason Terry’s No. 31 Jersey


TUCSON, Ariz. – Apparently time does heal all wounds. Former Arizona All-American Jason Terry is having his No. 31 jersey retired after year’s of debate whether it should be or not.

But Arizona athletics announced on Saturday it will retire his jersey.

Jerry was named National Player of the Year in 1999 and was a member of the 1997 national championship team.

The jersey will be retired on Feb. 19 when UA plays host to USC.

“I am extremely blessed and honored to have my jersey retired,” Terry said in a statement released by Arizona. “It is not only a tribute to what I accomplished as a student-athlete at UA, but to all the people who helped me on my journey. I want to extend special thanks to President Hart, Greg Byrne, Lute Olson, Jim Rosborough, Jennifer Mewes, the Pac-12 Conference and all Wildcat fans. Bear Down!”

Terry is currently a member of the Houston Rockets. He was a key member of the Dallas Mavericks’ title run in 2011.

Men’s basketball student-athletes who have been received a major national “athlete of the year” honor are eligible to have their jerseys retired. Rather than retire individual numbers, Arizona Athletics retires jerseys with the number and the name of the player.

His qualifications have never been in doubt, however, UA has long made it a policy to not retire jersey numbers for those athletes who had violated NCAA rules. He accepted money from agents in his senior year, causing Arizona to vacate its NCAA tournament appearance.

In 2000, Terry repaid UA $45,363 (the amount of the tournament appearance for forfeited tournament revenues).

It’s long been known Arizona has attempted to honor his jersey retirement, but had been voted against at least once. It had to be approved by the Pac-12 and then the NCAA and that has happened.

Terry, last summer, earned his degree in Social Behavior and Human Understanding from Arizona.


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Arizona routs Michigan in McKale Center

TUCSON, Ariz. – So this is what third-ranked Arizona looks like when all things are clicking.

One. Tough. Team.

Descriptions like “super focused,” “locked in” and “next step” were used from Arizona’s players and coach after the Wildcats‘ 80-53 shellacking of Michigan. Wolverines coach John Beilein went one step further and called the Wildcats a “premier” team.

“Over the years, we have been able to see some great teams,” Beilein said. “They’ve come to the Chrysler Center, we’ve played them in the NCAA Tournament and we’ve played them on the road.”

Saturday was a road of woes for Michigan as Arizona won its 29th consecutive home game and 37th consecutive non-conference game. Michigan lost its third straight for the first time since 2011.

So just a week after nearly losing to then-No. 9 Gonzaga, the Wildcats used their next marquee game as a stage to show what it can do when everything works.

Beilein was so impressed with Arizona’s performance that he told Wildcats coach Sean Miller he hoped Arizona (10-0) can stay healthy because “they have a chance to be as good as anybody this year. Today, Arizona showed they really have it all.”

Freshman Stanley Johnson led five Arizona players in double figures with 17 points. He also had seven rebounds, as did Kaleb Tarczewski, who added 15 points.

It was an afternoon at McKale Center where everything meshed and mixed like a team playing in late February and March. Arizona’s offense had a flow it had shown only in glimpses this season. Miller called the game “our best performance of our season.”

Defense? Check. Michigan was held to 35 percent from the field (27 percent from the 3-point line).

Offense? Check. Arizona sank 58 percent of its shots.

Rebounds? Double check. Arizona allowed just six offensive rebounds and outrebounding Michigan 40-26.

“We showed better offense, improved offense,” Miller said. “We love to use our defense to create transition opportunities. We’re getting a little more efficient.”

To read the entire story, click here.

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Arizona defeats Arizona State, takes Pac-12 South

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Scooby Wright and Rich Rodriguez mystery machine continues to roll.

Why not add mystical and magical in describing Arizona’s improbable ride to 10-2 and a Pac-12 Conference South championship after the Wildcats defeated Arizona State 42-35 Friday in a sold-out Arizona Stadium.

The win arguably could be the school’s biggest because of the magnitude.

No. 11 Arizona faces No. 2 Oregon on Dec. 5 in Santa Clara, Calif., for the Pac-12 title. Arizona handed the Ducks their one-and-only loss, 31-24.

“It’s going to be exciting,” said Rodriguez, who has never faced an opponent twice in a season. “It’ll be a very tough task but our confidence (will be high) because we played them well the last two times.”

But winning has become the new normal for Arizona under Rodriguez, who has won 26 games and lost 12 in three years.

“If I didn’t think it could happen, I never would have (come) here,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been fortunate to be at (some) successful programs (so) I thought we could win here and win big here. But we had to have some big things happen.”

Voila! They have.

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Arizona’s wide receivers vow for a bounce back

TUCSON, Ariz. — The second most perplexed person in the Rose Bowl on Saturday — behind Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez — may have been Tony Dews.

Who would argue? His group of wide receivers — considered by many to be the best in the west as a collective group — dropped anywhere from seven to 10 passes against UCLA in a game the Wildcats played close enough to win.

What’s the point of having a nice car if it’s running on bad gas? Or not operating at all? Arizona’s offense sputtered in part because its pass-and-catch portion was missing one part of the pass or the catch.

“Some (drops) can be questionable,” Dews said, “but if they are in your area or touch your hand you should catch it.”

Clearly, Saturday’s were passes the receivers hadn’t dropped all year, Rodriguez said.

“You’re frustrated, disappointed a little bit,” Dews said. “Give UCLA credit, they are a good group and physically strong. They had something to do with it. Yes, we had some uncontested drops that you’re certainly not happy about.”

When reviewing the game the next day, the players had a unified reaction, receiver Nate Phillips said: “Who is that (team) out there?”

To read the entire story, click here.

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