A new video ad for the Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge suggests that coaches are better at coaching than fundraising.
Arizona’s Sean Miller humorously showed why.
In the opening moments, Miller and Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins are shown discussing X’s and O’s while failing to pay attention to their charity candy stand, and USC’s Andy Enfield is distractedly plugged into his smartphone. Then Jalen Rose pulls up for a little motivational talk.
Instantly inspired, Miller then races out and gets in shoppers’ faces, as if they were officials.
“Buy my caramel clusters!” Miller says, as his colleagues roll their eyes. “Right here! Right now!”
Votes for Miller are supporting the Ronald McDonald House of Southern Arizona. Fans can vote at ESPN.com/infiniti.
Pac-12 tourney ticket sale
Fans interested in attending only certain sessions of the Pac-12 tournament can get a jump on tickets today. The conference said it will sell single-session tickets today only, 11 a.m.-11 p.m., at Pac-12.com/tickets. After today, only all-session tickets will be sold until sometime next month.
York ‘should be fine’
Arizona guard Gabe York played in only three minutes of the second half at USC because of a sprained ankle, but Miller said he “should be fine” today.
“It was more precautionary that we didn’t play him in the second half,” Miller said.
Big talent, big win
ASU is 1-7 when playing the No. 1 team in the country, and there was a reason behind that one win. On March 7, 1981, ASU took a 40-20 halftime lead and beat Oregon State 87-67. But as it turned out, all five ASU starters went on to become first- or second-round NBA draft picks: Sam Williams, Paul Williams, Alton Lister, Byron Scott and Fat Lever.
ASU coach Herb Sendek, meanwhile, has two wins over No. 1-ranked teams at N.C. State, beating North Carolina 86-71 on Feb. 21, 1998, and Duke 78-74 on Feb. 15, 2004.
By the time the Wildcats next face ASU center Jordan Bachynski, on Feb. 14 at Tempe, he will likely have broken the Pac-12 record for career blocks set by Arizona’s Anthony Cook from 1985 to 1989.
Cook swatted away 278 shots over his four seasons with the Wildcats; Bachynski has 259. Since Bachynski is averaging 4.6 blocks a game, he’s on a pace to wipe out that 19-block difference Feb. 1.
Excited, but ...
The usual rivalry questions about ASU came up at UA’s weekly news conference Tuesday, forcing Miller to address them in the context of his usual one-game-at-a-time approach.
It wasn’t easy to do.
“You have to have balance,” Miller said. “When that one game’s the Super Bowl … this game is so unlike football … we don’t have six days to recover and get ready for the next one. You play teams more than one time.
“There will be teams we play three times in conference so I think you have to be careful making one bigger than the next. But make no mistake, we understand the significance of the Arizona State rivalry.”
It’s not that easy
Aaron Gordon made a habit of throwing down reverse dunks off alley-oop passes against both UCLA and USC last weekend. But the truth is, he and point guard T.J. McConnell actually practice the play.
“We do work on the lob,” Gordon said, smiling. “It’s just building chemistry. I tell him to go as far back as he can to throw the alley-oop, and that’s how we work.”
The D is money
Betting on the Wildcats’ defense has been profitable for Las Vegas bettors.
According to a Linemakers story in Sporting News this week, Arizona and its foes have scored less than the over/under betting line in each of UA’s past seven games. UA is also 7-0 on the “under” in its last seven games at McKale Center that had a posted line.
— Bruce Pascoe