Last week was a very good time to be part of the McConnell basketball family of Pittsburgh, Pa.
Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell outplayed ASU super-jet Jahii Carson and scored 29 points in victories over USC and the Sun Devils, shooting 11 for 17 afield.
His brother, junior Matty McConnell, scored 24 points with 11 rebounds and five assists to lead Chartiers Valley High School in Bridgeville, Pa., to a win over rival Beaver High School, improving his scoring average to 21.3.
His father, Tim McConnell coached Chartiers Valley to a league-leading 12-1 record (losing only when Matty missed a game for appendix surgery), winning his 470th career game at Chartiers.
His aunt, Suzie McConnell-Serio, in her first year as Pitt’s women’s head coach, has taken a team that went 0-16 last season in the Big East to 9-9 overall.
T.J. has played so well as Arizona’s point guard that his shooting percentage, .472, is the highest among Arizona point guards since 2003-04, as is his assist-to-turnover ratio (112-37). In fact, McConnell already has more assists at midseason than Sean Miller’s previous Arizona point guards had in their entire season: Mark Lyons had 99 last year; Josiah Turner had 70; MoMo Jones, 93; and Nic Wise, 103.
“His value cannot be stated enough how he brings out the best in his teammates,” Miller said after the ASU game.
What I like about McConnell is that he doesn’t dribble the ball between his legs like all the other point guards, a superfluous, look-at-me habit that started in the 1980s and hasn’t subsided. And when play is stopped, unlike every other point guard, he doesn’t tap the bottom of his Nikes, a Michael Jordan mannerism that has been copied by 99 percent of college basketball players.
McConnell just plays. No frills.
If you’re open, he’ll pass you the ball.
On Thursday, leading ASU 70-51, McConnell hit the floor to steal the ball. Later, leading 82-58, rather than give an inch, he did it again.
He is the most valuable point guard at Point Guard U since Jason Gardner left school in 2003.