Some Arizona-related items of possible interest from today’s Pac-12 teleconference call:
Among other things, Sean Miller said he’s looking forward to the early chance to work with Stanley Johnson on USA Basketball's U18 team this summer.
Rosters have not been announced but Johnson has long been part of that age cohort at USA Basketball and is likely to at least be invited to camp in June.
"That’s also going to be a special time," Miller said. "Very seldom do you have a chance to work with one of your incoming players at that level so that’s also something I’m looking forward to."
Miller discussed Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, whose minutes figure to rise more than anyone’s with the absence of Brandon Ashley. Hollis-Jefferson played 31 against Cal on Saturday.
“He’s a really aggressive player, a terrific offensive rebounder and someone who has a bright future as a defender,” Miller said. “Everything that he’s done, hopefully he can build on it, be involved in more plays and improve as our season continues to unfold.
“He’s a much better free throw shooter right now than he was when he got here. He’s a much better shooter. Sometimes you don’t see it in the games but we see it in the practice. He’s gotten to the point where baseline jump shots, 15-footers, he’s making a really good percentage but Rondae is very instinctive with the ball. He drives it, draws a lot of fouls and again in terms of an offensive rebounder I would put him at the elite level.”
Of Oregon, Arizona’s opponent on Thursday, Miller said:
“I think the one thing that stands out is the tremendous firepower they have offensively, averaging 85 points a game ,” Miller said. “To me, they’re as explosive of an offensive team as we’ve played, having four three-point shooters on the court including three who are just prolific.
"Joseph Young, just looking at his numbers across the board you can make the argument that he may be one of the best guards that’s playing this season. (Jason) Calliste can really shoot it. And Mike Moser in the frontcourt is a tough matchup.
“The way Oregon runs in terms of how fast they get up and down the court, how organized they are in the halfcourt, to me it’s the ultimate test of can we stop these guys.”
Oregon State, which will visit McKale on Sunday, enters the week at 5-3, the first time it has had a winning record at the midway point of conference play in 15 years.
“I’d like to think we always thought we could play with any team in the conference but that hasn’t been the case in years past,” OSU coach Craig Robinson said. “So actually getting over the hump is really helping these guys believe they can be competitive at the top of the league… from an emotional standpoint and mental, physical, it feels good to be where we are right now but we can’t rest on those feelings if we want to continue to play the way we’re playing.”
Cal coach Mike Montgomery might be the dean of Pac-12 coaches but he was still excited to see the atmosphere at Haas Pavilion on Saturday, when the Bears beat Arizona and fans stormed the floor.
“You wish every game was like that but it’s just not,” Montgomery said. “It was a really, really good atmosphere. It was what college basketball should be like. … When the (game-winning) shot goes down like that everybody rockets out of their seats and tries to find somebody to grab a hold of.”
Of Justin Cobbs’ game-winner, Montgomery said:
“I guess I’ve seen Justin enough to know what he does best. When he gets up and jumps on his shot, he’s a very, very good shooter.”