Arizona notebook: Cats' 7-footer clears the glass

Arizona center Kaleb Tarczewski dunks against Texas Tech on his way to scoring six points and grabbing 13 rebounds.


With 5:15 to play Tuesday night, and without pressure from the shot clock, his teammates or basketball logic, Sidiki Johnson launched a three-point attempt from above the left elbow of the key.

Missing rim and net and backboard, it landed with a thud.

So did the freshman, who was immediately yanked from the game. Johnson ran past a stone-faced, furious Sean Miller and sat down.

"Sidiki's trying to learn the game of college basketball and what it's like to play on a team at this level," Miller said, "and took a bad shot at an ill-advised time."

If Johnson's mistake showed freshman folly, his replacement, Angelo Chol, provided the UA a brief glimpse of something better in a 60-51 exhibition win against Humboldt State.

Miller's main takeaway Tuesday: Chol feels comfortable playing center.

"One of the hard parts when you coach big guys who are freshmen - and I've really gone through this a number of times - it's hard to predetermine what position they'll be most comfortable at right away," he said.

Some players like being alongside a bigger teammate. Derrick Williams, however, embraced playing the "five," or center spot, immediately.

Chol does, too.

"That really jumped out at me, that he can help us at that position," Miller said.

After being inserted following Johnson's air ball, Chol made a wraparound layup for his first career basket in UA uniform - even if it was in the Wildcats' final exhibition game before Monday's opener.

On the next possession, the Sudanese freshman by way of San Diego dunked, forcing a Lumberjacks timeout.

Chol immediately gathered a defensive rebound and got to the free-throw line two times on the next four possessions.

He made only 1 of 6 free throws on the night, but Miller called him "a much better free-throw shooter" than he showed.

UA forward Solomon Hill said he sees Chol as the beneficiary of Josiah Turner's passes after a high screen and roll, the same way Williams played off Momo Jones' passing last year.

"Chol's going to be open," Hill said. "He's got to either make the dunk or the free throws."

In an upset loss to Seattle Pacific last week, the UA's two beefy freshmen combined for one rebound over a total of 22 minutes. Johnson had four points, Chol none.

Tuesday's results were just as inconsistent.

Chol finished with five points and three rebounds in 13 minutes, and Johnson had one point and five rebounds in only eight minutes.

Miller said Chol playing center will improve the team's prospects - as well as his own.

"We need some help there," Miller said, "and I think he can do a good job."

Rim shots

• The UA forced Humboldt State to shoot 32.7 percent from the field after allowing Seattle Pacific to shoot 52.1. Still, the Wildcats weren't particularly pleased with their defense.

"Everybody's not on the same page right now," forward Jesse Perry said.

The senior said it was different not only having four freshmen to insert, but also with "us having three new leaders."

• Miller said the UA did a great job of getting to the free-throw line, but he was disappointed his team couldn't convert. The UA made only 22 of 38 free throws.

"If we'd convert free throws," Miller said, "you would have had a much different feeling in the game."