[ {"id":"b19fc9bc-bb2f-11e6-b77d-f70726bbac7f","type":"article","starttime":"1480972920","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-05T14:22:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1480973721","priority":40,"sections":[{"blog":"sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog"}],"application":"editorial","title":"It's official: CB coach Dont\u00e9 Williams leaves Arizona Wildcats to join Nebraska staff","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/article_b19fc9bc-bb2f-11e6-b77d-f70726bbac7f.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/it-s-official-cb-coach-dont-williams-leaves-arizona-wildcats/article_b19fc9bc-bb2f-11e6-b77d-f70726bbac7f.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/it-s-official-cb-coach-dont-williams-leaves-arizona-wildcats/article_b19fc9bc-bb2f-11e6-b77d-f70726bbac7f.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":4,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Michael Lev\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"UA coach Rich Rodriguez already has begun the process of finding a replacement, preferably one with a strong recruiting r\u00e9sum\u00e9.","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["arizona wildcats football","rich rodriguez","donte williams"],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#toptwo","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"06f9687e-412b-5075-a3a2-074e4ebc6733","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/0/6f/06f9687e-412b-5075-a3a2-074e4ebc6733/57128a8d82bdc.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/0/6f/06f9687e-412b-5075-a3a2-074e4ebc6733/57128a8d8ef34.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/0/6f/06f9687e-412b-5075-a3a2-074e4ebc6733/57128a8d82bdc.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/0/6f/06f9687e-412b-5075-a3a2-074e4ebc6733/57128a8d82bdc.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":6,"commentID":"b19fc9bc-bb2f-11e6-b77d-f70726bbac7f","body":"

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.

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UA coach Sean Miller said today that Allonzo Trier traveled to Los Angeles last weekend because the NCAA permitted him to, although the NCAA had not allowed him to go to Honolulu or Las Vegas earlier this month.

I asked Miller if that was a good sign for the Wildcats.

\"No,\" he said. \"The only good sign is when he walks out there and plays.\"

Normally, players ineligible under NCAA standards are unable to travel unless they pay their own way but some situations are handled in a case-by-case manner (and it's pretty obvious that this case is unusual.)

UA athletic director Greg Byrne confirmed earlier today via that Trier \"is able to travel.\"

Maybe he was taking a worst-case scenario, but Miller said today he'd guess that Parker Jackson-Cartwright will be out eight weeks with his high ankle sprain.

High ankle sprains are typically estimated to take in the 4-8 week range, but can vary widely depending on the severity. UA's Salim Stoudamire missed about a month when he suffered one in 2002-03, though he wasn't at his best for about eight weeks.

I asked Miller if that estimate changed anything about how he'll prepare for Pac-12 Conference play ahead.

He shook his head and grinned.

\"It's like putting an ATM card in and if there\u2019s nothing in there... it's just 'here we go,' \" Miller said. \"We're gonna make the best of it and figure it out. We\u2019re making the best of it and we have a lot of players who came to Arizona to have big, big roles, and believe me, every one of them does right now.\"

Although UA signee DeAndre Ayton had a visa issue in his native Bahamas that kept him out of a basketball event last weekend, according to 24/7's Jerry Meyer, Miller said Ayton is \"fine.\"

One of the replies to Meyer's tweet asked Meyer what Ayton's chances of playing for the Wildcats were next season, and Meyer said \"I have serious doubts.\"

Asked about that exchange by telephone earlier today, Meyer said:

\"I\u2019m just answering the question and stating the obvious,\" Meyer said. \"The NCAA has investigated his school (Hillcrest Prep) and DeAndre Ayton would have great earning power overseas. So there's doubts. But in no way am I saying he won't play at Arizona.\"

Miller said, as he has before, that he fully expects Ayton to play for the Wildcats next season.

\"He\u2019s fine, all set, doing well academically and trying to finish his senior year of high school,\" Miller said of Ayton. \"When you're a talented high school player, an all American, your senior year is tricky. You think about what practice is like for those guys. If you\u2019re a Division I player and you walk in a gym for a high school practice, depending on your high school, you're the best. Sometimes you\u2019re not even challenged -- and somebody of his size as well.

\"So being able to finish his senior year in a positive way and have a great year, I\u2019ll have no doubts he\u2019ll do that. He's doing a great job in school and we\u2019re excited to have him as part of what we're doing in the future.\"

"}, {"id":"fa1fc002-baa8-11e6-abee-4b99ae0d8013","type":"article","starttime":"1480950300","starttime_iso8601":"2016-12-05T08:05:00-07:00","lastupdated":"1480972942","priority":40,"sections":[{"blog":"sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Recruiting: Arizona still after 4-star cornerbacks Thomas Graham, Jaylon Redd","url":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/article_fa1fc002-baa8-11e6-abee-4b99ae0d8013.html","permalink":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/recruiting-arizona-still-after--star-cornerbacks-thomas-graham-jaylon/article_fa1fc002-baa8-11e6-abee-4b99ae0d8013.html","canonical":"http://tucson.com/sports/arizonawildcats/football/blog/recruiting-arizona-still-after--star-cornerbacks-thomas-graham-jaylon/article_fa1fc002-baa8-11e6-abee-4b99ae0d8013.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":3,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"Zack Rosenblatt\nArizona Daily Star","prologue":"Arizona still considered a favorite for four-star Thomas Graham.\u00a0","supportsComments":true,"commentCount":0,"keywords":[],"internalKeywords":["#latest","#toptwo","#editorspick"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":"","images":[{"id":"b8b6615d-9bff-5516-81f1-77ae41853e34","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/b/8b/b8b6615d-9bff-5516-81f1-77ae41853e34/57607720566ce.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/b/8b/b8b6615d-9bff-5516-81f1-77ae41853e34/57128b0097abc.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/b/8b/b8b6615d-9bff-5516-81f1-77ae41853e34/57607720566ce.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/b/8b/b8b6615d-9bff-5516-81f1-77ae41853e34/57607720566ce.image.jpg"}}}],"revision":5,"commentID":"fa1fc002-baa8-11e6-abee-4b99ae0d8013","body":"

The Arizona Wildcats were dealt a blow on the recruiting front on Sunday night, but Arizona's coaches don't plan to let it linger.

Four-star athlete\u00a0Greg Johnson, verbally committed to Arizona since March,\u00a0announced he was re-opening his recruitment following the likely departure of cornerbacks coach\u00a0Donte Williams. Johnson, who was to play cornerback at Arizona, is expected to consider Nebraska or USC now.\u00a0

Arizona's coaches aren't panicking just yet. Williams was also the lead recruiter for four-star cornerback\u00a0Thomas Graham from Rancho Cucamonga, California, and even with Williams likely on the way out, Arizona isn't stopping its recruitment of Graham.

The Wildcats have long been considered the favorite for Graham's services, and to keep that relationship going in the right direction, defensive coordinator\u00a0Marcel Yates will be leading the charge and plans to visit Graham sometime this week.\u00a0

Graham plans to be a mid-year enrollee wherever he decided to commit, so an announcement is expected in the coming weeks. Notre Dame is likely Arizona's biggest rival for Graham, who took an official visit to Arizona late in the season. He was previously verbally committed to USC but backed out in April.\u00a0

Yates also plans to check in with four-star corner\u00a0Jaylon Redd, Graham's high school teammate, who is currently verbally committed to Oregon. The Ducks recently fired head coach\u00a0Mark Helfrich and have yet to hire a replacement or announce if any of his assistant coaches would return, so Redd's status with Oregon is potentially up in the air.\u00a0

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It was assumed Arizona would feel the impact of Donte Williams' likely impeding departure for Nebraska rather quickly, at least in recruiting.

Sunday, the Wildcats lost the centerpiece of their highly-regarded 2017 recruiting class, and it's likely connected to the Williams news.

Greg Johnson announced on Twitter he \"decided to re-open my recruitment\" after being verbally committed to the Wildcats since March. Johnson surprised many when he made that early commitment ot the Wildcats, but Johnson picked the Wildcats primarily because of his relationship with Williams.

Williams' departure for Nebraska in particular is interesting because of how the Cornhuskers have been recruiting Johnson even as he was committed to Arizona.

Johnson took an official visit to Nebraska late in the season and told the Star afterward: \"It was cool, just being out of California for a couple days. The atmosphere was cool, and they are cool people out there so I enjoyed it overall. It was a cool visit.\"

With Arizona out of the picture, Nebraska and USC are expected to be the leaders for Johnson, whose decision impacts Arizona's incoming class.\u00a0

For one, Johnson is the recruit that started a flurry of commitments over the summer and into the season, helping the UA get its class as high as 27 players and for a while rated the top class in the Pac-12. Now, Arizona is down to just two four-star recruits committed to its 2017 class: quarterback\u00a0Braxton Burmeister and running back\u00a0Nathan Tilford.

Johnson is rated the No. 2 athlete in the West, according to Scout.com, and was expected to play cornerback at Arizona.\u00a0

His departure likely puts the death knell on Arizona's pursuit of five-star receiver\u00a0Joseph Lewis, Johnson's teammate at Augustus Hawkins High School in Los Angeles. It's long been believed that Lewis and Johnson wanted to play together in college, and Williams was the primary recruiter on Lewis as well. Nebraska has been considered the favorite for Lewis for much of the recruiting cycle.\u00a0

It's unclear how this impacts the rest of Arizona's 2017 class, but it's less likely to impact the players already committed as much as UA's targets for the next class or two, namely four-star cornerback\u00a0Thomas Graham, recruited by Williams and from Rancho Cucamonga, California.\u00a0

Arizona is still pulling out all the stops in its pursuit of Graham, also primarily considering Notre Dame, and defensive coordinator\u00a0Marcel Yates\u00a0will visit him in California this week. Yates will also check in with four-star cornerback Jaylon Redd, Graham's high school teammate, who is currently verbally committed to Oregon. The Ducks recently fired\u00a0Mark\u00a0Helfrich\u00a0as its head coach and have yet to hire a replacement, so Redd's future status is unclear.\u00a0

Toward the end of Arizona's season, the Star spoke with Johnson about Arizona's incoming recruiting class and his thoughts on Arizona's losing a lot of games this past year. Here's some of what he said.

\"I\u2019m pretty sure we\u2019re all going to be successful there (Arizona) next year, and help Arizona get a lot of Ws.\"

\"I\u2019ve been watching the games, I know they\u2019ve been dealing with a lot of injuries and stuff, but I\u2019m pretty sure they\u2019ll get a couple more Ws. I know that when myself and the rest of the 2017 class gets there we\u2019re going to change a lot of that. We\u2019re looking forward to getting a lot of wins and a lot of bowl wins.\"

\"They\u2019ve (Arizona's coaches) been saying they know what\u2019s going on right now but they feel with the guys committed right now, they recruited them for a reason, and that\u2019s to come in and change things. That\u2019s what they talk about.\u00a0

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This is the third in a three-part series looking back at the 2016 Arizona Wildcats football season and ahead to next year. Today\u2019s installment: Special teams.

Special teams were an area of strength for the 2015 Arizona Wildcats. That was not the case this past season.

Some growing pains were expected after the departures of steady, veteran specialists Drew Riggleman and Casey Skowron. But Arizona never got the spark it was seeking \u2014 and desperately needed at times \u2014 from the return game.

The Wildcats played with a field-position deficit during much of their 3-9 season, and subpar special-teams play contributed to that.

Will those units improve markedly next season? We explore the possibilities by asking \u2014 and answering \u2014 three lingering questions.

1. Does Josh Pollack have what it takes to be the long-term solution at placekicker?

Certainly. The redshirt sophomore had one poor performance this season as a kicker. (Pollack\u2019s punting was another story; more on that later.) Aside from that one off game \u2014 a 1-for-4 performance against Colorado \u2014 Pollack made 8 of 10 field-goal attempts.

All of Pollack\u2019s misses came from 44 or more yards. In the Colorado game, his misses were from 44, 50 and 44. His mechanics were off that night \u2014 his plant foot was landing too close to the ball. Additionally, he had to assume kickoff duties \u2014 giving him all three kicking jobs \u2014 after then-kickoff specialist Edgar Gastelum couldn\u2019t play because of a concussion.

Going 1 of 6 from 40-plus yards is nothing to be proud of, but it\u2019s not as if Pollack lacks the leg strength to make those kicks. With better technique, more experience and more confidence, he can become effective from long range.

Pollack\u2019s overall performance was almost in line with Skowron\u2019s first season as the first-team kicker. Skowron made 20 of 28 attempts in 2014. He improved his success rate by more than 10 percentage points the following season.

Another factor working in Pollack\u2019s favor: He appears to be out of the mix to be Arizona\u2019s punter. It\u2019s impossible to quantify, but having to do both jobs for most of this season didn\u2019t seem to help him. Concentrating solely on placekicking moving forward should.

2. Did Arizona find its punter late in the season?

Once Pollack had to take over the kickoff duties, Arizona needed to go in a different direction at punter. Pollack had handled the role for most of the season. His average of 42.2 yards per punt looks good on the surface.

However, Pollack struggled at times, especially with rugby-style punts. He seldom achieved sufficient hang time, resulting in only six fair catches in 48 attempts. Pollack\u2019s net average \u2014 a more meaningful statistic \u2014 was just 36.8 yards.

Jake Glatting, another redshirt sophomore, took over as the punter for the final two-plus games and performed respectably. Glatting averaged 39.4 yards on 10 punts, but only one was returned, for 7 yards.

So Glatting\u2019s net average was 38.7, almost 2 yards greater than Pollack\u2019s (admittedly with a much smaller sample size).

Four of Glatting\u2019s 10 punts resulted in fair catches; four others landed inside the 20-yard line. Some of that is circumstantial, based as much on where you\u2019re punting from as how well you\u2019re hitting the ball. But Glatting\u2019s ratios are encouraging.

While it\u2019s far from a given that he will keep the job next season, Glatting showed enough promise in his brief stint to suggest he\u2019s capable of handling it.

3. What can the Wildcats do to improve their return game?

That it was so middling doesn\u2019t make much sense, because Arizona had more than enough playmakers fielding the ball. Additionally, special teams were a daily point of emphasis for Rich Rodriguez and his staff.

Nonetheless, the Wildcats averaged 17.0 yards per kickoff return and 4.7 yards per punt return. Both figures ranked 11th in the Pac-12.

Arizona finished fourth and tied for first, respectively, the previous season. The yards the Wildcats lost \u2014 or didn\u2019t gain \u2014 hurt a team that struggled in other areas.

Incredibly, Tyrell Johnson\u2019s 33-yard kickoff return late in the second quarter of the season opener was Arizona\u2019s longest return of any kind all season. The Wildcats had only one other return of at least 30 yards, by Shun Brown on a kickoff against Washington State two months later.

Special teams will continue to be a priority next season, especially after Arizona encountered so many issues this season, and that\u2019s a critical first step. Rodriguez also is hopeful that a deeper, healthier roster will supply better personnel to the return units.

The return of J.J. Taylor could provide a boost. The talented freshman returned only three punts before suffering a season-ending broken ankle, but one went for 22 yards. If healthy, Taylor possesses the shiftiness and instincts to become a superb return specialist.

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Malena Washington and the University of Arizona women\u2019s basketball team lit up the scoreboard in overtime Sunday.

The Wildcats (5-1) won 74-63 at New Mexico State, outscoring the Aggies 18-7 in the extra period. Washington had 14 of those points as part of her career-high 26.

Washington tied a career-high with eight rebounds, while Breanna Workman had the first double-double of her career with 12 points and 10 rebounds. LaBrittney Jones added nine points and nine rebounds.

New Mexico State (5-3) outscored UA 20-15 in the fourth period to force overtime, although the Wildcats had a defensive stop in the final seconds of regulation after Washington had tied the game at 56 with 34 seconds left on a free throw.

Arizona hosts San Diego at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

The game will air on 1400-AM.

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LOS ANGELES \u2014 Just three minutes into his first college basketball game, Kobi Simmons set the tone for the Arizona Wildcats\u2019 season so far.

That is, as a true freshman, he came off the bench to score seven quick points and help dig UA out of an early 17-2 hole against Michigan State, allowing the Wildcats to come back for a 65-63 win in Honolulu. He finished with 18 points in that game.

That sort of freshman production is one of the few things the Wildcats have been able to rely on during an initial four weeks marred by Allonzo Trier\u2019s ongoing eligibility issue, injuries to three scholarship players and a number of on-court issues affecting both sides of the court.

After Arizona dropped to 6-2 after losing to Gonzaga 69-62 on Saturday at the Staples Center, the Wildcats\u2019 three top scorers remained their three freshmen.

One of those freshmen, forward Lauri Markkanen, is also the team\u2019s leading rebounder, leading three-point shooter, and leading free-throw shooter.

Another, wing Rawle Alkins, is leading the team in turnovers (20) but also shooting 59.6 percent when he gets within two-point range.

Simmons, meanwhile, has provided shooting in spurts as expected, but also more defense than expected.

\u201cSome teams suffer adversity but you look at the calendar and it\u2019s February or January,\u201d UA coach Sean Miller said. \u201cBut for us we\u2019ve really been hit with these things at the beginning. I think the good news for us is that it\u2019s allowing these types of guys to have a lot on their plates, a big role, a lot of experience.\u201d

That also includes the Wildcats\u2019 other newcomer, junior college transfer Keanu Pinder, who was deployed in a defensive role Saturday that Miller wasn\u2019t comfortable with.

\u201cIt was the first time that Keanu Pinder has ever guarded a perimeter player, and it just so happened that he guarded a perimeter player against Gonzaga,\u201d Miller said. \u201cThat\u2019s not in our best interests. But these are the circumstances.\u201d

The most notable circumstance at the moment is that UA has only three active players who can naturally play at the three perimeter positions. That happened Wednesday, when Jackson-Cartwright was lost for probably at least a month with a high ankle sprain, coming on top of Trier\u2019s never-ending NCAA issue.

As a result, among other things, Miller has had to force Kadeem Allen back to point guard fulltime while making Pinder and Markkanen defend smaller and quicker opponents.

No question, (Jackson-Cartwright\u2019s absence) really affects everything,\u201d Miller said. \u201cRawle, for example, has played mostly the three.

\u201cWe\u2019ve given him some reps at the two and he played as many minutes (Saturday) at two as three. Lauri \u2014 God bless him \u2014 I\u2019ve never seen a freshman play three positions like he has. He played mostly the small forward, which is very difficult if you\u2019re 7-foot.

\u201cIt affects everything and everybody. Our zone offense, our underneath out-of-bounds offense. Defensively it really affects you.\u201d

Nobody probably has it worse than Markkanen, who not only has to defend small forwards but also found Gonzaga\u2019s defense tailored to shut him down. He went 4 of 14 from the field, though some of his shots were off good looks he didn\u2019t make.

\u201cI\u2019m still very confident in my shot,\u201d he said.

Miller didn\u2019t appear worried about it. It was just another day of on-the-job training for his new guys.

\u201cI think all of our freshman have done a good job adjusting,\u201d Miller said. \u201cCertainly, Lauri has done everything. That\u2019s usually what you ask a senior to do, like Kadeem Allen. And, really, ditto for Rawle. Rawle has done a lot of great things.\u201d

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LOS ANGELES \u2013 Some of the adjustments shorthanded Arizona had to make against Gonzaga on Saturday were obvious: Kadeem Allen at the point, Lauri Markkanen at small forward a lot, and just about everybody soaking up minutes in the 30s.

But another thing struck UA coach Sean Miller in the Wildcats\u2019 69-62 loss to Gonzaga: He had to ask Keanu Pinder to defend the small forward position for the first time this season.

\u201cAnd it just so happened he guarded a perimeter player against Gonzaga,\u201d Miller said. \u201cThat\u2019s not in our best interests. But these are the circumstances.\u201d

Miller tried to look ahead, saying he\u2019s hopeful that the Wildcats will get \u201ca couple of guys back\u201d (since Parker Jackson-Cartwright is the only injured one who can return, that may mean Miller is still hopeful of getting Allonzo Trier, too).

\u201cWe\u2019re at seven but the hard part for us is a lot of times teams suffer through some injuries and adversity but some teams suffer adversity but you look at the calendar and it\u2019s February or January.

\u201cBut for us we\u2019ve really been hit with these things at the beginning. I think the good news for us is that it\u2019s allowing these types of guys to have a lot on their plates, a big role, a lot of experience.\u201d

Considering Jackson-Cartwright\u2019s absence, UA\u2019s early struggles on offense were no surprise. Over the first six minutes Saturday, the Wildcats had five turnovers and shot just 2 for 6 from the field.

\u201cNo question, (PJC\u2019s absence) really affects everything and everybody,\u201d Miller said.

\u201cRawle (Alkins), for example, has played mostly the three. We\u2019ve given him some reps at the two and he played as many at two as three. Lauri -- God bless him -- I\u2019ve never seen a freshman play three positions like he has. He played mostly the small forward, which is very difficult if you\u2019re 7-foot.

\u201cIt affects everything and everybody. Our zone offense, our underneath out of bounds offense. Defensively it really affects you.\u201d

Wondering why Miller didn't double-team Gonzaga center Przemek Karnowski much Saturday?

Miller was asked if the way he guarded Karnowski had to do with Gonzaga's early three-point shooting, but indicated that he wasn't a fan of doubling the big man under almost any circumstance. Karnowski, after all, has no problem giving the ball up if he is heavily defended, dishing 15 assists over Gonzaga\u2019s first seven games.

Instead, Miller said he wanted UA to crowd the low post, and that they did a \u201cvery poor job\u201d of that.

\u201cDoubling him, trapping Karnowski, in my opinion I think it\u2019s a disaster,\u201d Miller said. \u201cMaybe another team out there that can do it better. But when you watch him, he\u2019s such a terrific passer.

\u201cIn my opinion when they\u2019re really clicking is when you double him, because he\u2019s a great passer and the guys he passes to on this year\u2019s team are all excellent 3-point shooters. When they have their big run, a lot of times it\u2019s because of the 3-point shot. We have a lot of young players who were for the first time in their career supposed to crowd in the low post. We did a very poor job of that. \u201c

So as it turned out, UA paid by letting Karnowski create his own offense. The big man from Poland was 9 for 13 from the field.

\u201cToday he beat us with our own scoring,\u201d Miller said. \u201cHe had timely baskets. Our one-on-one defense needs to get a little better. I thought Chance (Comanche) and Dusan (Ristic), that was a tough task for both of those guys. Now that they\u2019ve played against somebody like him hopefully they\u2019ll be ready for the next time.\u201d

Miller said the two UA players brought to the interview podium, Alkins and Markkanen, were probably the best two Wildcat players in the game.

\u201cI think all of our freshman have done a good job adjusting,\u201d Miller said. \u201cCertainly, Lauri has played three positions; he\u2019s done everything. That\u2019s usually what you ask a senior to do, like Kadeem Allen. And really ditto for Rawle. Rawle has done a lot of great things.\u201d

Markkanen was just 4 for 14 from the field \u2013 dragging down a field-goal percentage from 54.1 to 50.0 in just one game -- but said he remains \u201cvery confident in my shot.\u201d

There were only brief podium interviews granted Saturday, so not a whole lot of other comments of note that weren\u2019t in our full game coverage, which is attached to this post.

The box score and updated stats are attached as PDFs.

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