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UA basketball: Miller prepared to replace Turner

2012-03-13T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T10:48:01Z UA basketball: Miller prepared to replace TurnerBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 13, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Josiah Turner's season is over, and so may be his Arizona Wildcats career.

UA coach Sean Miller said the freshman's indefinite suspension will include Wednesday's game against Bucknell and any other NIT games the Wildcats play in, and said he will "be working hard" to find a replacement point guard this spring if Turner does not return.

But Miller left a window open for Turner to play again for Arizona - one that may include stiff requirements after he was suspended for a second time last week because of unspecified team rules violations.

"He has to make the complete choice that he wants to be here under the ways that we run the program," Miller said Monday, "trying to do the things in the classroom, on the court and off the court, a certain way.

"(We're) not expecting (Turner) to be any more perfect than any of the other 12 players as much as be like anyone else, just follow the rules that we set forth and that are going to make us successful as a program beyond the season.

"That's not at all to say that the other 12 guys are perfect. Good people make bad decisions. But from Josiah's perspective, I'm hoping he can really learn from this experience."

UA first announced Turner's indefinite suspension on March 7, a day before its first Pac-12 Tournament game, and Miller said the following day that he and Turner would "get back on the same page when we get back to Tucson."

On Monday, Miller said they would do the same thing after the season ends.

"It's as much his choice as mine," Miller said. "I'm not telling any player on our team that he doesn't have the option to come back, but it's more about the path that Josiah wants to go from this point forward that will determine if he's at Arizona or whether he will choose to get a new beginning."

Turner was first suspended for UA's Dec. 7 game at Florida for unspecified team rules violations, and was pulled from the starting lineup on Nov. 9 for being late to a pregame shootaround.

"Obviously, I would have loved to have had a start-to-finish freshman season with no off-the-court incidents or suspensions," Miller said. "They never help you become successful. But in terms of what's going to make him become successful, this is the path I think will help him the most."

If Turner leaves, the Wildcats would be left with two returnees, Jordin Mayes and Nick Johnson, to split up point guard duties as they did during the Pac-12 Tournament. UA also has incoming guard Gabe York, one of four players it signed during the fall signing period.

But Mayes, Johnson and York are all combo guards, leaving a potential hole for a true point guard if Turner departed.

"We'll certainly be working hard to solve that if that's the case," Miller said.

New goal

Without an NCAA tournament bid, Miller said UA's goal now is to extend the season as long as possible, especially for the Wildcat seniors.

"It's hard. It's obviously very disappointing not to be a part of the (NCAA) tournament," Miller said. "But it's tough to look at the NIT as kind of a developmental tournament or consolation prize, just because there are so many teams in the NIT that, if they were in the tournament, would be capable of winning a game or two.

"If you have that (development) mindset you won't be in the NIT very long. For us, it's to have that same mentality that we had in the Pac-12 tournament, knowing that this time when we lose, we're done."

NIT tickets moving

The Wildcats sold more than 5,000 tickets for Wednesday's game by late Monday afternoon, according to Kris Giese, UA's assistant director for ticket operations. UA had sold about 2,100 in presale efforts, meaning about 3,000 were sold in the first 22 hours after Arizona learned its NIT fate.

"I knew we'd get to this number but at this rate, we might get to 10,000," Giese said. "We really didn't know how fans would react. We guessed between 5,000 on the low and 10,000 on the high, but the public is finally realizing we have tickets and they are very cheap."

UA had about 1,500 of its 6,000 reserved seats (those between the baskets in the lower and middle sections) remaining as of late Monday afternoon, and Giese expected them to sell out.

UA students, on spring break this week, can buy GA tickets for $5. Public tickets are $25 for reserved and $15 for general admission.

Mayes OK

Miller said Mayes had "no setback physically" after playing fully in three Pac-12 Tournament games with a foot that suffered a stress reaction on Feb. 2.

Miller said he would continue to have Mayes and Johnson share point guard duties as they did in the Pac-12 Tournament. In the final against Colorado on Saturday, Mayes played 23 minutes and Johnson logged 27.

Up next

• What: NIT first round

• Who: No. 8 Bucknell at No. 1 Arizona

• When: 6 p.m. Wednesday

• Where: McKale Center

• TV: ESPN2

• Cost: $25 (reserved), $15 (general), $5 (students)

• To order: Call 621-CATS

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