UA BASKETBALL

Arizona basketball: Miller looking for more depth

2013-02-19T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:26:44Z Arizona basketball: Miller looking for more depthBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 19, 2013 12:00 am  • 

SALT LAKE CITY - When Jordin Mayes lofted a three-pointer that missed badly during the first half Sunday at Utah, Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller had seen enough.

"That was it," Miller said. "Just because I've seen him shoot about 10 percent."

Mayes, who is shooting 11.1 percent from three-point range in Pac-12 games, did not return to the game.

Of course, that's a typical way for a coach to send a message to a struggling player. The problem is that Miller did not see anyone else, really, to turn to Sunday.

The Wildcats essentially had seven productive players in their 68-64 win over Utah, and no backcourt help off the bench whatsoever with Mayes out of the picture.

Miller said Sunday that he now intends to play reserve guard Gabe York more, which is what he said three weeks ago. Miller then played York sparingly during the Wildcats' trip to Washington and WSU but not at all during the Wildcats' past four games.

Known for preferring to have a set plan for his playing rotation heading into games, Miller did not want to shake that up Sunday even as the Wildcats shot 1 for 10 from three-point range in the second half.

"It would have been tough to put him in the second half, after he didn't play in the first half," Miller said of York. "But we need someone to come in off the bench and make shots and play well."

The Wildcats also just need competent bodies to soak up a few minutes everywhere on the floor. Do-everything guard Nick Johnson logged 35 minutes while forward Solomon Hill put in 36 and guard Mark Lyons played 33.

Miller indicated he's not completely comfortable with that. But he's also not comfortable sometimes with subbing guys in, especially when air balls are launched or other errors surface.

"One thing that's hurting us is we have to get better play from our bench," Miller said. "If you're me, you're scared to sub in the second half (at Utah), and as we ride those five starters, late in February, sometimes fatigue can set in. Even with their best intentions, to me, we're not the fresher team, we're the more tired team. And that starts with guys coming in off the bench playing better."

The qualifications of "better," Miller said, are fairly straightforward.

"We'll take anything," Miller said. "Catch it when it's thrown to you. Make free throws. If you're an open shooter, get a good look from three and take it. The more production we get from the guys who don't start, the better our team is going to be. We don't want that bench to shrink."

Mayes may yet become key contributor in that rotation, as he was two years ago during UA's Pac-10 championships and Elite Eight.

But he may have to find the answer from within at this point. While Lyons responded to poor outside shooting Sunday by driving the ball aggressively inside, Mayes has struggled to find the basket in any form. He's averaging only 1.3 points per game in Pac-12 play.

"At this level, you've gotta bring your own confidence," Miller said. "I remember when I was a player a long time ago: A coaching staff or a coach can give you some confidence, but at the end of the day, you have to get your own. You have to make shots when you're open and be that guy.

"Mark Lyons has that; that's his greatest quality. Thank goodness he's with us."

Rim shots

• Arizona dropped from No. 9 to No. 12 in both major Top 25 polls Monday after its shaky weekend in the mountains. The Wildcats now have an RPI of 10 and a Sagarin rating of 18.

• Cal's Allen Crabbe was named the Pac-12's player of the week for the second week in a row after averaging 19.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 steals in the Bears' wins over UCLA and USC.

• The Pac-12 reprimanded Cal coach Mike Montgomery after he shoved Crabbe in the chest during the Bears' win over USC on Sunday, but the league did not order a suspension. "I made a mistake," Montgomery told Pac-12 Networks.

Up next

• Who: Washington at No. 12 Arizona

• When: 9 p.m. Wednesday

• TV: ESPN2

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

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