[ {"id":"d393caa2-bdd0-11e6-9ffc-a3959675891a","type":"article","starttime":"1481295600","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-09T08:00:00-07:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"blog":"sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Recruiting: D-lineman Austin Faoliu \"in the middle\" on commitment to Arizona Wildcats","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/article_d393caa2-bdd0-11e6-9ffc-a3959675891a.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/recruiting-d-lineman-austin-faoliu-in-the-middle-on-commitment/article_d393caa2-bdd0-11e6-9ffc-a3959675891a.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/recruiting-d-lineman-austin-faoliu-in-the-middle-on-commitment/article_d393caa2-bdd0-11e6-9ffc-a3959675891a.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":5,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Zack Rosenblatt\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"An Arizona commit for 2017 might be wavering in his decision.\u00a0","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#toptwo","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"1437ead2-bdd3-11e6-99b8-474649fe5f5a","description":"Arizona commit Austin Faoliu (far right) during a home visit with Arizona coaches.\u00a0","byline":"Via Austin Faoliu's Twitter","hireswidth":1200,"hiresheight":900,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/43/1437ead2-bdd3-11e6-99b8-474649fe5f5a/584a46533dab9.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"620","height":"465","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/43/1437ead2-bdd3-11e6-99b8-474649fe5f5a/584a46533c4b1.image.jpg?resize=620%2C465"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"75","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/43/1437ead2-bdd3-11e6-99b8-474649fe5f5a/584a46533c4b1.image.jpg?resize=100%2C75"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"225","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/43/1437ead2-bdd3-11e6-99b8-474649fe5f5a/584a46533c4b1.image.jpg?resize=300%2C225"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"768","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/1/43/1437ead2-bdd3-11e6-99b8-474649fe5f5a/584a46533c4b1.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C768"}}}],"revision":3,"commentID":"d393caa2-bdd0-11e6-9ffc-a3959675891a","body":"

Arizona needs big bodies on the defensive line.

It's something that's been said countless times over the last year or so, particularly as Arizona started two 247-pound defensive linemen in Justin Belknap\u00a0and\u00a0Parker Zellers this past season.

When\u00a0Austin Faoliu verbally committed to Arizona back in September it was a step in the right direction. Faoliu, of Mater Dei in Santa Ana, California, is listed at 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds and is one of three defensive tackles currently committed to Arizona's 2017 class.

It might just take a little work to keep him. When Faoliu committed, his only other offers were from Nevada, Hawaii and Colorado State. So once Arizona offered \u2014 specifically defensive line coach\u00a0Vince Amey\u00a0and recruiting coordinator\u00a0Chris Singletary \u2014 Faoliu quickly committed, sight unseen.\u00a0

The reason?

Playing time.

\"They were telling me that I could be starting as a freshman and that I\u2019d have a spot ready for me at the U of A,\" Faoliu said. \"That\u2019s what opened my eyes and I thought 'nothing gets better than that'. Then all these other schools started coming.\"\u00a0

Since then, Arizona State, Illinois, UTSA and Washington State have all offered. The Sun Devils, Roadrunners and Cougars, along with Arizona, have all taken home visits to see Faoliu, and Washington State in particular has pushed hard for him. It helps that his high school teammate and best friend\u00a0Faavae Faavae is a Washington State commit.\u00a0

Faoliu will take his first official visit to Arizona this weekend and Washington State later this month.

He's still committed to Arizona, Faoliu said, but is open to exploring his options.

\"I\u2019m like kinda in the middle,\" Faoliu said. \"I still like Arizona, I still want to go there, but I\u2019m open to other colleges too if they haven\u2019t spoke to me.\"

Working in Arizona's favor \u2014 the Wildcats offered Faoliu's brother\u00a0Drew Faoliu recently. Drew is a recruit in the 2018 class, and Faoliu said it would be a dream come true to play in college with his brother. Also, another teammate of Faoliu's from Mater Dei is already committed to Arizona for 2017 \u2014 three-star safety\u00a0Xavier Bell.\u00a0

In the meantime, he's just enjoying being pursued by a handful of schools after going much of his senior season without a Power Five conference offer.\u00a0

\"Since my freshman year I\u2019ve been working to try and get some offers and now I can finally choose,\" Faoliu said. \"Well, I chose Arizona, but I can finally see what other choices I have. It feels good.\"

We'll have more about Faoliu and some other Arizona commits to keep an eye in a story later today on Tucson.com as well as in tomorrow's paper.\u00a0

"}, {"id":"5087c8c0-bdad-11e6-8050-973214a5a084","type":"article","starttime":"1481248800","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-08T19:00:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1481262726","priority":40,"sections":[{"blog":"sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Recruiting: Arizona commit Delshawn Phillips to visit Illinois, still strong with Wildcats","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/article_5087c8c0-bdad-11e6-8050-973214a5a084.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/recruiting-arizona-commit-delshawn-phillips-to-visit-illinois-still-strong/article_5087c8c0-bdad-11e6-8050-973214a5a084.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/recruiting-arizona-commit-delshawn-phillips-to-visit-illinois-still-strong/article_5087c8c0-bdad-11e6-8050-973214a5a084.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":6,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Zack Rosenblatt\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Arizona commit is still strong with the Wildcats, despite visits elsehwhere.\u00a0","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#toptwo","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"efcd1115-1769-5fa8-b332-53f66b96aa62","description":"","byline":"","hireswidth":null,"hiresheight":null,"hiresurl":null,"presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"620","height":"349","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/fc/efcd1115-1769-5fa8-b332-53f66b96aa62/577c3d5e2a567.image.jpg?resize=620%2C349"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/fc/efcd1115-1769-5fa8-b332-53f66b96aa62/57128b00debfc.preview-100.jpg"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/fc/efcd1115-1769-5fa8-b332-53f66b96aa62/577c3d5e2a567.image.jpg?resize=300%2C169"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/fc/efcd1115-1769-5fa8-b332-53f66b96aa62/577c3d5e2a567.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"5087c8c0-bdad-11e6-8050-973214a5a084","body":"

If the last two seasons have taught Arizona anything, it's this: the Wildcats need linebackers. A lot of them.

Perhaps more than any other posision, injuries have decimated Arizona's depth chart at linebacker ever since Scooby Wright went crazy in 2014, and it doesn't get any rosier next season.

It's why the Wildcats need all the (immediate) help they can get at the position in the incoming 2017 class, and that includes Garden City (Kansas) Community College linebacker\u00a0Delshawn Phillips. The 6-2, 220 pound linebacker committed to Arizona back in July.

Phillips told the Star on Thursday he's \"definitely\" still committed to the Wildcats, but still plans to take a visit this weekend to Illinois, while also considering a visit to Syracuse at some point. He also visited Central Florida during the season. He's not the only UA commit looking at Illinois \u2014 safety\u00a0Rhedi Short\u00a0visited the Illini during the season.\u00a0

Despite all of that, Phillips said \"it's going to be hard to top\" the Wildcats. UA coach\u00a0Rich Rodriguez and defensive coordinator/linebackers coach\u00a0Marcel Yates\u00a0visited with Phillips in Kansas on Thursday. Receivers coach\u00a0Tony Dews is also involved in his recruitment. Phillips said Rodriguez's visit \"meant a lot\".\u00a0

Phillips recently completed a stellar sophomore season at Garden CC by helping the Broncbusters (yes, real name) defeat Arizona Western in the NJCAA championship game. Also in that game: Arizona commit\u00a0Matt Leo, a defensive lineman who's also received a lot of national interest recently.

All told, Phillips finished the season with 92 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, two sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles.

As a junior college player, in theory Phillips should be able to come in and help Arizona right away. With\u00a0Michael Barton,\u00a0Jake Matthews,\u00a0Cody Ippolito and\u00a0Paul Magloire\u00a0all gone, that leaves Arizona with just four scholarship linebackers: an injury-prone\u00a0DeAndre' Miller, former walk-on Brandon Rutt and\u00a0freshmen\u00a0Jacob Colacion\u00a0and\u00a0Kahi Neves.\u00a0

Beyond that, Phillips plans to enroll early and participate in spring drills. So even if Phillips were to flip from the Wildcats, it would likely happen in the coming weeks.\u00a0

Here's more of what Phillips had to say in his conversation with the Star.\u00a0

On winning the NJCAA title: \"It was definitely a great experience. We put in a whole lot of hard work, the training was ridiculous. But at the end it all paid off. We got the W. It was a nice game, it came down to the end...It was what I wanted to do. My freshman season, me and the team we said we\u2019re not losing. We knew what we was going to do, because we said we ain\u2019t losing.\"

On how he did this season: \"I think i did pretty good. I\u2019m hard on myself, and I always gotta get better, but overall I had a pretty good season.\"

On how he's grown as a linebacker:\u00a0\"I\u2019d start off by saying my IQ. My IQ in the game has come a long ways. I got smarter, I found easier ways to get to the ball, seeing blocks, reading offenses, knowing where they going with the ball when they line up, watching film. My game matured.\"

On what sold him on Arizona:\u00a0\u00a0\"They sold me on everything. First, I was excited to go there just from what I was hearing, how I could help the defense. Then once I got there, my academic plan was explained to me, I got along with players very well, the facilities are nice and it felt like a family-oriented environment.\"

On playing right away: \"That\u2019s been the biggest factor, that I\u2019d come in and play right away. Of course that\u2019s what I\u2019m looking for. I want to go in and play right away.\"

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The impact of Donte Williams' departure from Arizona's coaching staff will likely be written and talked about until the day the UA's 2017 class signs on the dotted line in February.

The immediate impact already occured, when four-star athlete\u00a0Greg Johnson decommitted, with no sign that Arizona plans to re-pursue him. The rest of Arizona's 2017 class is intact...for now.

Regardless, Arizona's coaches won't rest on their laurels, and they're still aiming high. This weekend, to the Star's knowledge, there will be at least three four-star recruits in Tucson for official visits.

They are: running back\u00a0Nathan Tilford, already an Arizona commit; linebacker\u00a0Antjuan Simmons, a former Ohio State commit from Ann Arbor, Michigan; and offensive lineman\u00a0Adrian Ealy, from Louisiana.\u00a0

The Wildcats also visited with four-star cornerbacks\u00a0Thomas Graham and\u00a0Jaylon Redd in recent days in Southern California, the latter an Oregon commit.\u00a0

I wrote more about Tilford here, and Simmons when he re-opened his recruitment.

On Simmons: defensive coordinator\u00a0Marcel Yates\u00a0and recruiting coordinator\u00a0Chris Singletary\u00a0visited with Simmons in his home in Ann Arbor. Singletary, not technically a coach, is permitted to visit with recruits until Arizona officially hires a replacement for Williams.\u00a0

The Wildcats getting Simmons to campus is big news in and of itself, and Arizona seems to feel it has a real shot to reel in the talented linebacker. Perhaps more than the other schools he's considering (Michigan State, Notre Dame, possibly still Ohio State), Arizona can offer immediate playing time in its thin linebacking corps. Simmons would help lessen the sting of losing Johnson and Williams should he pick the Wildcats.

The visit from Ealy is a little more surprising. There hasn't been much discussion surrounding the Wildcats and Ealy throughout this cycle, but he's had a strange recruitment all-around. Despite offers from schools such as Auburn, Oklahoma, Miami, Texas, Florida, Florida State, Michigan and LSU (in his backyard), he recently took a visit to Kansas, and now will visit Tucson.\u00a0Calvin Magee, Arizona's co-offensive coordinator, is leading the charge here.\u00a0

Arizona's offensive line struggled at times this past season, and a unit that was once perceived as a strength could certainly use some help. The Wildcats only lose\u00a0Freddie Tagaloa from this year's unit, though they're set to lose\u00a0Jacob Alsadek,\u00a0Gerhard de Beer and\u00a0Layth Friekh after next season.

Arizona is only set to add\u00a0Edgar Burrola\u00a0and\u00a0Cody Shear\u00a0to the offensive line in the 2017 class so far.\u00a0

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When\u00a0Greg Johnson announced his decommitment from Arizona over the weekend, running back\u00a0Nathan Tilford\u00a0immediately became the highest-rated recruit in Arizona's 2017 recruiting class.

Arizona is confident it won't lose Tilford too, but it helps that the four-star from Colony in Ontario, California will visit Arizona's campus this weekend. Tilford is the headliner in a weekend of visitors for the Wildcats. (Working on getting a more extensive list, but junior college defensive lineman\u00a0Sione Taufahema\u00a0will also be there.)

Johnson primarily backed out of his long commitment to Arizona because of the departure of cornerbacks coach Donte Williams to Nebraska, but Williams wasn't much involved with Tilford's recruitment so that shouldn't impact anything. The lead recruiters on Tilford on Arizona's staff include co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Calvin Magee and staff analyst\u00a0Miguel Reveles, who used to coach at Colony.\u00a0\u00a0

Tilford is one of the more important recruits in Arizona's 2017 class beyond his four-star rating, mainly because the Wildcats need running backs. By the end of the season, Arizona was down to converted receiver\u00a0Samajie Grant and fourth-stringer\u00a0Zach Green at the position due to injuries to Nick Wilson\u00a0and\u00a0J.J. Taylor\u00a0and the dismissal of\u00a0Orlando Bradford.\u00a0

Arizona's lone other four-star recruit, according to Scout, is quarterback\u00a0Braxton Burmeister\u00a0of La Jolla (California) Country Day. Rivals.com actually upgraded Sabino athlete\u00a0Drew Dixon to a four-star recruit on Wednesday.\u00a0

With Tilford coming in, along with the expected returns of Wilson, Taylor and Green, the Wildcats expect to have quality depth at the position for 2017. Tilford is a big, bruising back with athleticism and rated the No. 3 athlete in the West by Scout.com. He's listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, and as a senior at Colony Tilford rushed for 2,031 yards and 30 touchdowns.\u00a0

"}, {"id":"0920f32a-bc46-11e6-8994-273fd965d79c","type":"article","starttime":"1481126400","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-07T09:00:00-07:00","priority":40,"sections":[{"blog":"sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Arizona Wildcats QB Khalil Tate will know what to expect next time","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/article_0920f32a-bc46-11e6-8994-273fd965d79c.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-qb-khalil-tate-will-know-what-to-expect/article_0920f32a-bc46-11e6-8994-273fd965d79c.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/arizona-wildcats-qb-khalil-tate-will-know-what-to-expect/article_0920f32a-bc46-11e6-8994-273fd965d79c.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":6,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Michael Lev\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"The freshman quarterback discusses his first season at the UA in a Q&A with the Star.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["arizona wildcats football","khalil tate","anu solomon","brandon dawkins"],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#toptwo","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"ae0c511c-9339-11e6-997e-d78d857f2267","description":"Arizona freshman QB Khalil Tate did not perform as well against USC as he had in previous appearances.","byline":"Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star","hireswidth":3000,"hiresheight":2023,"hiresurl":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/e0/ae0c511c-9339-11e6-997e-d78d857f2267/5802cd6663968.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"620","height":"418","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/e0/ae0c511c-9339-11e6-997e-d78d857f2267/5802cd66608d4.image.jpg?resize=620%2C418"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/e0/ae0c511c-9339-11e6-997e-d78d857f2267/5802cd66608d4.image.jpg?crop=1753%2C986%2C0%2C62&resize=100%2C56&order=crop%2Cresize"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/e0/ae0c511c-9339-11e6-997e-d78d857f2267/5802cd66608d4.image.jpg?crop=1753%2C986%2C0%2C62&resize=300%2C169&order=crop%2Cresize"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/tucson.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/a/e0/ae0c511c-9339-11e6-997e-d78d857f2267/5802cd66608d4.image.jpg?crop=1753%2C986%2C0%2C62&resize=1024%2C576&order=crop%2Cresize"}}}],"revision":6,"commentID":"0920f32a-bc46-11e6-8994-273fd965d79c","body":"

While other teams get ready for bowl games, the Arizona Wildcats are preparing for next year.

Its season cut short, Arizona began offseason workouts just days after the Nov. 25 finale.

Despite a 3-9 record, the Wildcats have plenty of intriguing characters. We\u2019ll profile some of them in this space.

Our first Q&A is with freshman quarterback Khalil Tate, who played a larger-than-expected role in 2016 \u2013 and will be given every opportunity to win the starting job in \u201917.

How would you sum up your freshman year? How did it go?

A: \u201cI learned a lot. Very helpful to get to be in certain situations, travel certain places, just to get prepared for next year. Not playing a lot, but playing enough to where I (could) grasp what could happen next time if I was in the same exact situation.\u201d

You said you learned a lot. What\u2019s the biggest lesson you took away?

A: \u201cJust game-time experience. Actually being on the field. If I was just on the sideline, the next year, first game, it\u2019s different. Now I\u2019m going into next season knowing what\u2019s expected, knowing what I have to do, knowing a lot more.\u201d

A lot of people were opposed to Arizona burning your redshirt. You seem to be on the other side of the fence, that it was beneficial for you.

A: \u201cIt was very beneficial. Like I said, game-time experience was important. Basketball, football, baseball, anytime you play, you don\u2019t have to be a big factor, (but) as long as you\u2019re in the game you get the feel for it. Next time you\u2019ll be even better because you were a rookie the first time.\u201d

Do you wish you had played more after the redshirt was lifted?

A: \u201cIt didn\u2019t matter. I\u2019m in God\u2019s hands. Whatever He wants me to do, I\u2019m going to do it. I\u2019m not going to fight or get frustrated. I\u2019m just blessed to be here. I can\u2019t complain at all.\u201d

You performed well in relief against UCLA and Utah. You struggled against USC. What was the difference?

A: \u201cNot being as comfortable as I was in those games. It was my first start. I expected myself to do way better than I did. It was against a pretty good, up-and-coming USC team. It\u2019s not like it was a weaker opponent to where the flaws went unnoticed. All the flaws were seen. That helped a lot, though, because I know next time what to expect.\u201d

Did you put more pressure on yourself that day compared to when you came off the bench?

A: \u201cIt wasn\u2019t really pressure. People knew I was going to play, so they game-planned. UCLA and Utah, they didn\u2019t know if I was going to play or not. USC, they game-planned for (me). It was something they were probably waiting on all week. They knew what to do.\u201d

What did you learn from being around two veteran quarterbacks in Anu Solomon and Brandon Dawkins?

A: \u201cFrom Anu, I just learned to take a lot more things seriously. Be more calm. See things fully instead of just making a decision. Just relaxing. From Brandon, have fun. I already have fun. But have more fun. The team (vibes) off you. If you\u2019re down, they\u2019re going to be down. If you\u2019re happy at all times, the team should be happy.\u201d

When you start doing football-specific work again, what are some of the areas you really need to work on to improve your game?

A: \u201cI would say decision-making, and that comes from learning more of the playbook. You can never know too much of the playbook. You can always learn something new about it. Decision-making will come easier. I wouldn\u2019t be thinking on the fly. I would know what\u2019s going on.\u201d

What\u2019s the message from the coaches about the QB competition heading into the offseason?

A: \u201cThe coaches aren\u2019t going to say (anything) because it\u2019s always open. They don\u2019t have to say it\u2019s an open competition. Everybody knows that. You\u2019ve just got to keep working hard.\u201d

So what\u2019s your approach then?

A: \u201cWork on the little things. Footwork. Decision-making. That comes with reps. Getting more live reps with the ones and twos. This past season I was with the threes a lot, so there weren\u2019t a whole lot of reps.\u201d

Are you concerned at all that Arizona is adding two more quarterbacks to compete for the job?

A: \u201cThat doesn\u2019t really make a difference to me. I\u2019ve never really been the type to care about who\u2019s coming, who\u2019s there. If that was the point, I wouldn\u2019t have come here. Every school you go to, there\u2019s going to be somebody coming in. It\u2019s about yourself.\u201d

You lost only a handful of games your entire high school career. What was it like to go through a nine-loss season?

A: \u201cDifferent. I think it was a great experience. I feel like in life you\u2019ve got to experience the lows in order to be successful. If you\u2019re just winning all the time \u2026 you\u2019re not learning. You\u2019re always up here. You\u2019re never down here. I wouldn\u2019t say I enjoyed the season, but it was helpful because I got to learn about myself, how I react to things.\u201d

Why do you think Arizona will be better next season?

A: \u201cWe\u2019re going to use this year as motivation for next year. Nobody wants to lose nine games. It\u2019s not fun. It\u2019s not something that you want to happen, it\u2019s not something you want to be a part of.\u201d

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Sean Miller threw out a zone defense Tuesday but, rest assured, his defensive philosophy has not changed.

\u201cThe more zone we play,\u201d he said, \u201cthe worse we\u2019ll be in man-to-man.\u201d

And Miller\u2019s pack-line man-to-man has been his standard at Arizona.

The full context of Miller's comment after UA beat UC Irvine 79-57 on Tuesday, was is that it\u2019s hard to be good at a lot of things, so focusing on man-to-man is preferred under normal circumstances. It\u2019s just that this team may need some help, using the zone to help compensate for fouls or fatigue, and to take advantage of its size.

\u201cTo play great man-to-man defense (throughout a game) \u2026 With 19 minutes in the first half for Kadeem (Allen) \u2013 you don\u2019t feel the same as playing a 14,15 minute first half,\u201d Miller said. \u201cAnd, then, as the season grows, it wears you out for the next game.

\u201cNot that you want to stand around in zone, but it\u2019s certainly a different way of playing. The other thing is we\u2019re really big. That\u2019s one of the strengths of our current group, so if you think about that backline and the guards, using that size is probably a smart move, and playing through foul trouble and giving the team a different look.

\u201cI think working on it and using it at the appropriate time, that\u2019s probably what we\u2019ll do.\u201d


Naturally, the zone also made an appearance on the other side of the court Tuesday. UC Irvine went with a 2-3 the entire game, its staff probably having seen a few videos of UA games this season that showed the Wildcats struggling against a zone.

This time, though, UA worked the ball inside to get 18 points out of Dusan Ristic, while the Wildcats also hit 8 of 17 3-pointers.

\u201cWhen you play against a zone everybody thinks -- and I think a lot fans think -- you have to make threes, and at times I think they\u2019re right,\u201d Miller said.

\u201cBut a really good zone offense is able to get fouled, score from two, score in the low post, when they take threes, take really good threes, and when we took threes tonight, they were really good threes.

\u201cPart of it is, we got the ball into the post, we shot 18 free throws. And we had 22 assists, when they played a 2-3 the entire game. We\u2019re going to see a lot of zone right now because teams are checking how organized we are, and our ability to shoot. But we\u2019re only going to get better every day that we\u2019re together because in a way our team has only practiced for a week. Because we don't have the same team as we had two weeks ago and a lot of our (preseason) planning, we definitely don\u2019t have the same team as we had then.

\u201cTwo of Lauri's threes tonight happened because his teammates are well aware of where he was and they got him the ball. On Saturday (against Gonzaga), we weren't looking at him like that. He would almost have to find his own shot. Against a zone, everybody\u2019s looking for Lauri because he\u2019s such an exceptional shooter.\u201d


One obvious thing the Wildcats can\u2019t afford these days is heavy fouling, so Miller probably wasn't thrilled to see Chance Comanche foul out after just 17 minutes.

\u201cThat\u2019s a big deal for us. We have done a very good job of not fouling,\u201d Miller said.

\"Tonight, Chance stuck out because he was not able to be a factor. He almost beat himself. It\u2019s now up to us as his coaches to show him so that he doesn\u2019t keep repeating the same mistake.

\u201cBut he\u2019s a much better player than he\u2019s shown here lately and I think that will come. Now he has a bigger role. Now he has to learn how to be successful in that bigger role. To be able to play without fouling is a trademark of a disciplined good defensive team and that\u2019s something we work hard at being better every day.


Asked about blending the different games of 7-footers Dusan Ristic and Lauri Markkanen, Miller spoke of a bigger picture.

\u201cThey\u2019re blending well,\u201d Miller said. \u201cOne common trait that Dusan and Lauri have is that they are incredible kids. I mean, in the classroom, off the court, in practice, as teammates. They love the game and are two of our hardest workers. Not just now but in the summer.

\"Both guys are (from) the other side of world. They\u2019re not going home for Christmas and yet they\u2019re just really, really great kids and all of us feel that to have them as teammates, prime players on the court, is a great thing for us. You talk about leading by example. Every time they show up, they lead by example because their work ethic is incredible. That\u2019s the focus for those guys. Are they different as players? Yes, but both of them have that common trait that they\u2019re just incredibly coachable.\u201d


Kadeem Allen has struggled at point guard in two games after taking the job back following Parker Jackson-Cartwright\u2019s injury last week -- Allen wasn't initially expected to play the point at all this season -- but Miller said it wasn\u2019t for a lack of trying.

\u201cHe\u2019s turning the ball over more and I think some of it is fatigue,\u201d Miller said. \u201cHe guards the other team\u2019s best player and he uses a ton of energy there. We want him to make plays for his team. He had five turnovers against Gonzaga, three tonight, that\u2019s eight turnovers in two games. We don't want him to turn the ball over three times. He can play games with less than that for sure. But to his credit, there\u2019s nobody going harder, working harder, or doing more for his team than Kadeem is for us right now.\u201d


In a different way, Miller also defended freshman guard Kobi Simmons, who is 3 for 17 from the field in his past two games while making just 1 of 7 three-pointers.

\u201cHe did some good things tonight,\u201d Miller said, noting that Simmons had five assists. \u201cAs a young player, sometimes when the 3-pointer is not going in, you become hard on yourself. He\u2019s had back-to-back games where that hasn\u2019t happened and then you start to think about that, you start to press and you let some things slip that you can do well.

\u201cBut he\u2019ll get it. He\u2019s a freshman. It\u2019s just that games for freshmen aren\u2019t nearly as easy. For every Carmelo Anthony, there are plenty of examples of guys who have great careers, even NBA careers, that if you judge them on the first two months of their college career, you never would have predicted what\u2019s to come.

\u201cLauri, he kind of looks that part right now where he\u2019s such a special offensive player, that it comes easy for him. But even Lauri, he\u2019s not perfect. He makes defensive mistakes. He made plenty we\u2019ve talked about after recent games, but I though he did a good job defensively (against UC Irvine), even better than he\u2019s been.\u201d


Offensively, Markkanen quickly rebounded from his 4-of-14 shooting against Gonzaga (and a Zag defense tailored to him) by hitting 7 of 10 on Tuesday, including 4 of 6 3-pointers.

\u201cI\u2019m not worried about my shooting,\u201d Markkanen said.


Our game story and photo gallery is attached, along with PDFs of the box score and updated UA stats.

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Another Arizona Wildcats game, another game without Allonzo Trier -- or an explanation why.

Trier appeared in sweats again for Arizona's early warmups Tuesday before its game with UC Irvine, and it appeared he will not play again while his NCAA eligibility issue remains pending.

Trier will have now missed all nine of Arizona's regular-season games plus two exhibition games.

UA has declined to comment about Trier's status since the issue surfaced in mid-October, though the NCAA changed its ruling to allow him to travel last week to Los Angeles while he was not allowed to go on the Wildcats' trips to Honolulu and Las Vegas last month.

Normally, players ineligible under NCAA rules are not allowed to travel unless they pay their own way, though exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis.

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Winning the initial four minutes or so before the first media timeout has always been a big emphasis of Sean Miller teams at Arizona, but it hasn\u2019t worked out so well in the Wildcats\u2019 two losses.

They were down 17-2 early against Michigan State and 17-5 against Gonzaga, though the Michigan State game was the season opener and the Gonzaga game was UA\u2019s first start without Parker Jackson-Cartwright at point guard.

\u201cI think we\u2019ll be a little bit more sure of ourselves moving forward,\u201d Miller said. \u201cCertainly that\u2019s our job, my job, to get our team locked in and more organized (at the start) but that\u2019s the problem with somebody gets hurt\u2026 a lot of times you haven\u2019t had the opportunity to reshuffle the deck.

\u201cWe\u2019ve had teams that I think all of us look back on and say 'that was a really good college basketball team' and we had those same issues. There are teams who get off on really good starts but on the road don\u2019t seem to be that team. I think it evens out over time. We have a lot of first-time starters. With Dusan, Lauri, Rawle and Kobi, it\u2019s 4 of 5 have never started in college, so the more they get used to going out there the better.\u201d

Miller said the Wildcats were \u201ca nervous team\u201d at the start of the Gonzaga game, and said the Zags\u2019 early two 3-pointers created the wrong defensive response.

\u201cSometimes a couple of 3-point shots go in and their answer is to worry only about that guy. Only their man,\u201d Miller said. \u201cIn other words, it\u2019s `Coach, he\u2019s not going to make any more because I got him.\u2019

\"But there\u2019s a lot more on defense than just defending your man man and if you think about (Gonzaga center Przemek) Karnowski, he\u2019s really what I would call the first really good low post scorer we\u2019ve played against. We definitely wanted to provide more support and help.\u201d


Might be worth noting, too, that Arizona trailed UC Irvine at halftime two seasons ago at McKale, and for most of the second half although Rondae Hollis-Jefferson dunked over 7-6 Mamadou Ndiaye and the Wildcats eventually went on a 15-0 run to take over.


Here's the school-produced notes from Arizona and UC Irvine (and Missouri, which is hosting Miami, Ohio, at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network's alternate feed.)


Our advance coverage is enveloped in a notebook leading with Allonzo Trier's sudden clearance for expense-paid travel, and a scouting report. Both are attached to this post.

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Dont\u00e9 Williams officially joined the Nebraska coaching staff Monday, leaving an opening at Arizona that Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez aims to fill as quickly as possible.

Reports first surfaced Friday that Williams, who just completed his first season as Arizona\u2019s cornerbacks coach, was headed to the Midwest. Williams and his new employer tweeted the news Monday.

Welcome to the family @CoachD_GBR!

\ud83d\udd34\ud83c\udf3d\u270a #GBR pic.twitter.com/Dm57yyVr4B

\u2014 Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) December 5, 2016

Williams also expressed his gratitude to the UA in a message posted to his Twitter feed:

\u201cI\u2019m beyond thankful for the opportunity Rich Rodriguez and Greg Byrne gave me to join the University of Arizona and coach the game I love.

\u201cI can\u2019t even put into words how much I appreciated the way my guys went out on a daily bass competing and representing for the \u2018A.\u2019

\u201cHurt, tired, sore, it didn\u2019t matter!! They handled and took on every task that was given to them! A very special group of young men that will continue to develop and prosper no matter who (their) coach is because the best is yet to come for them!!\u201d

As soon as he realized Williams was leaving, Rodriguez began the process of finding a replacement. He has a couple of different options.

Rodriguez could hire a cornerbacks coach to slide into Williams\u2019 spot. Or Rodriguez could hire a linebackers coach, in which case defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, who currently coaches linebackers, would shift to the secondary.

Regardless of which position he coaches, the new hire needs to be a strong recruiter, preferably with deep ties in Southern California. Rodriguez also might seek a coach with connections in Texas, a relatively untapped area for Arizona.

One recruit has de-committed from the UA since it became apparent that Williams would leave, and it\u2019s a big one. Four-star athlete Greg Johnson from Augustus Hawkins in Los Angeles announced Sunday that he was reopening his recruitment. Johnson was one of three four-star prospects in the Wildcats\u2019 class heading into this past weekend.

Ideally, Rodriguez will be able to hire a new coach in the next few days. A month-long recruiting \u201cdead period\u201d begins next Monday.

"} ]