Sean Miller sees evidence that the Pac-12 is on the rise, and more of it should be apparent tonight.
After the Wildcats had trouble with Colorado freshmen Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson, plus Utah forward Jordan Loveridge last weekend, they will face tonight a confident Oregon backcourt that contains freshmen Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson.
Dotson leads the Ducks in scoring with 11.8 points on average while Artis is fifth in Oregon’s balanced attack at 10.1.
Of Dotson, Miller said: “He’s explosive. Lets the game come to him. Doesn’t really force the action, and for a freshman, that says a lot. I’ll tell you the freshmen who’ve caught my eye -- Xavier Johnson, Josh Scott and now you move to Oregon, and their leading scorer is a freshman.
“We believe we have four (top freshmen) on our team. I think the future is bright for our league and one of the reason is because these newcomers are having significant impacts for their teams.”
Miller is 2-4 against Dana Altman, including their matchups as the coaches at Xavier and Arizona, and says he has a lot of respect for the Ducks coach and his current team.
“They have a very talented team, five double-figure scorers,” Miller said. “they have a great coach, somebody we respect a great deal. And they have a style and a system that’s very frenetic in attacking. They are an excellent offensive rebounding team; this year they are bigger than they’ve been. They still play very fast and score a lot of points in transition.
“They change their defense and their defense can do a lot of things to you. They can take you out of what you’re used to doing. They can create turnovers. No question they’re a really good team. That’s why they have the record they have. I believe they’re going to be in the conference race all the way to early March.”
Other comments from Miller:
On senior forward E.J. Singler:
“He’s a winner. He’s tough, plays the game really hard and he’s also a smart player. He is a beneficiary now of playing for the same coach for his third year. Dana Altman runs a great system on offense and defense. The experienced players in his program really benefit from doing the same things day in and day out. You can tell Singler has really mastered what they do.”
On Arsalan Kazemi, the transfer from Rice:
“He’s physical. One of the statistics to me that’s amazing is he leads the conference in steals (2.8) as big as he is. You have a guy that leads your team in rebounding, double figures (9.8), and steals? That’s one exceptional player.”
Snow flurries are greeting the Wildcats in Eugene this morning.
The Oregonian talks of how Altman has been trying to get the most out of Artis.
Joe Burton says the Sun Devils, who will host UA on Jan. 19, are much more athletic this season.
While much of the talk about ASU is of Jahii Carson, Chris Colvin has been playing a valuable role for the Sun Devils.
Been quite a year for Josiah Turner. He's now been released from the Halifax Rainmen, with his coach saying Turner gave him an attitude and "wanted to do what Josiah wanted to do."
Turner also still is facing an extreme DUI case in Pima County Justice Court.
Washington is changing its identity into more of a defensive-oriented team, which worked well Wednesday at California.
Stanford was nearly flawless from the line in a win over WSU.
Cedric Martin will try to slow down Shabazz Muhammad tonight when Utah hosts UCLA (7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
USC will play at Colorado at 8 p.m. (ESPNU). Tad Boyle says there's not a huge gap between UA or Colorado and the Trojans.
Lots of interesting comments on a previous discussion thread about Miller's commitment to his style of play and lineup.
TropiCat asked if Kryrl Natyazhko's graduation affects UA at all on another discussion thread. This is a good point to consider. But it does not affect UA in its Academic Progress Ratings (the ones that carry scholarship and postseason penalties) because anyone who leaves early while academically eligible to sign a pro contract does not cost their teams any points.
It does affect UA's rolling six-year Graduation Success Rate in a positive way but the GSR does not carry penalties. It is more of a public indicator of what a program produces in the classroom and can be recruiting tool.