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Arizona basketball: Scouting tonight's game against Utah

2014-02-19T00:00:00Z 2014-02-20T16:22:56Z Arizona basketball: Scouting tonight's game against UtahBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 19, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Let’s play two

Not surprisingly, UA coach Sean Miller is supportive of new NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s argument for raising the NBA minimum age to 20.

But not just because Miller would be assured of holding on to his collection of McDonald’s All-Americans for two seasons. Because, he said, such a rule change would also benefit the NBA by putting more mature players in the league.

“That would be fantastic,” Miller said. “I believe that everyone would win.

“I hope that’s the case that there’s more cooperation between the NBA and college basketball because everyone would win. We’d have an even better game. It doesn’t surprise me to hear him say that, because they get a more well-rounded person in their game, so I think they’ll benefit as well.”

Silver will still have to sell the idea on the yet-to-be-named head of the NBA players’ union, but he put out a strong message during the NBA’s All-Star break. He, too, said both sides could benefit, noting that NBA coaches have even told him that they would prefer players have more time to develop in college.

“I think from a college standpoint if those teams could have an opportunity to jell,” Silver said, according to NBC Sports, “if those players had the benefit to play for some of these great college coaches for longer periods of time, I think it would lead to stronger college basketball and stronger NBA ball as well.

Worth the trip

For basketball reasons, T.J. McConnell’s decision to transfer to Arizona after his sophomore season at Duquesne was something of a no-brainer. Play point guard for a team with powerhouse recruiting classes and a coach who played your position, or stay with a struggling Dukes team.

For personal reasons, it wasn’t so easy. McConnell, and his basketball-oriented family, are from the Pittsburgh area.

“I’d say it was one of the tougher decisions,” McConnell said. “My dad, my mom, my brother and sister and the rest of my family pretty much came to every game when I was at home, (and) to know they were probably going to make one or two games at the most (at Arizona) was tough.

“But it was a sacrifice I needed to make to come out here and potentially win a national championship. They knew I was doing this for the right reasons.”

Even with the Wildcats having lost two of four games this month, McConnell said his experience has been “something I’ve never felt before.”

“It’s been great, and I’m having a lot of fun this year,” McConnell said. “Did I expect to be doing as well as I am? No, but that’s just a credit to my teammates and the coaching staff .”

Ready-made

Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak says he knew junior college transfer guard Delon Wright would be a box score filler, but this is ridiculous.

Wright, an L.A. product who transferred from City College of San Francisco as a junior, is leading the Pac-12 in conference games in steals (2.8) and is among the Pac-12’s top 15 in scoring (17.4), rebounds (6.5), assists (5.1) and blocks (1.5).

Clearly the adjustment wasn’t tough for a guy whose brother, Dorell Wright, happens to play for the Portland Trail Blazers.

“Delon is a really heady, solid player,” Krystkowiak said. “He’s got a great feel for the game. He’s benefited from playing (pickup games) with a lot of NBA guys over the years with his brother .”

Sympathy gains

Outside of the Arizona program, nobody may know what the Wildcats are going through without Brandon Ashley more than Colorado coach Tad Boyle. He lost standout guard Spencer Dinwiddie in January, all but sinking the Buffaloes’ hopes of challenging Arizona for the Pac-12 title.

But with the Wildcats adjusting without Ashley, the conference race may be open … to even Colorado, if the Buffs can sweep the Arizona schools this week.

The Pac-12 title is “not a given, especially with the injury to Brandon Ashley,” Boyle said. “Our hearts go out to him. We know what Arizona is going through, but that does cast a little more doubt. Arizona was running away with it, but they’ve come a little more back to the pack now.”

Bruce Pascoe

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