With UA’s freshmen big men receiving most of the frontcourt attention this preseason, it’s been easy to overlook sophomore Angelo Chol. Especially on Tuesday, when Chol missed 4 of 5 field goals, including a wide open shot within six feet of the basket.
But UA coach Sean Miller and senior Solomon Hill tried to keep Chol's head up.
“Angelo’s improved a lot,” Miller said. “He’s worked as hard as any player in our program. He missed a shot tonight and he missed one in the first exhibition game that he makes all the time. And Angelo cares so much that he can lose his confidence but that’s all part of growing.
“He can really change the game with his quickness, his ability to block shots and rebound, he’s a different look on defense for us than having Kaleb (Tarczewski) in there and we’re counting on him.”
Chol averaged four points and five rebounds in the two exhibition games.
“He’s put in too much work to have mishaps,” Hill said. “It reminds me of my freshman year when I was missing dunks. I think he has a mental block he has to work through. Some people go through that. I think he’ll rebound well. It’s a long year. We just have to keep telling him positive things.”
Miller said Chico State’s offense provided a good workout for UA, not only because they launched 34 three-pointers but because of the way they tried to set them up.
“They play an offense that requires your defense to really be locked in,” Miller said. “They have five players really moving and cutting so from that perspective it was a great test for us. The way we defended the three-point shot, especially when we were locked in and doing things the right way, I thought our defense was much better. “
Arizona held Chico State to 23.5 percent three-point shooting while Humboldt State hit 47.4 percent.
Not surprisingly, Miller raved about Solomon Hill, who played with eye-opening efficiency. Hill scored 18 points on 2-for-2 shooting but hit 13-of-14 from the free throw line, while dishing two assists to one turnover.
It was another step, Miller hopes, in Hill’s adjustment to a fulltime small forward after he was forced to help out with UA’s post players for most of his earlier career.
“One thing about Solomon is he’s never played with two frontcourt players in the game at Arizona,” Miller said. “In our first year we had no big guys. In our second, we had Derrick playing the five, and we played with Jesse (Perry) or Jamelle (Horne) at the four. And last year Solomon played the four.
“Part of what he’s learning is when to go, when not to go, to how to let the game come to him, and if you watched him, tonight he really let the game come to him.
“He only had one turnover. He pushed the ball in transition and made people better. The fact that he shot 14 free throws is an indication that when he did attack he did it at the right time. He looked like a really good player tonight.
“Solomon has grown in almost every facet.”
Hill’s free throw percentage dipped from 78.0 in 2010-11 to 72.4 percent last season but he spoke like a player who will surpass both marks this season – while going to the often.
Hill was 13 of 14 from the line against Chico State.
“If I get fouled, they’re sending one of the best free-throw shooters to the line,” Hill said. “So if they want to foul me, by all means, just foul me. I love it. I’m going to go to the line and knock them down.”
Arizona announced a crowd of 12,268 (with probably 11,000 or so actually in attendance), less than 200 fewer than it announced for its exhibition opener against Humboldt State, and Miller thanked fans for showing up.
“It’s difficult when the two dates are Halloween and election night but we still had 12,000 people,” Miller said.
Here's the official box score.