Sean Miller said he’s told Gabe York repeatedly that the best way for a scorer like him to break in is to 'wow' everyone by putting the ball in the hoop once he gets a chance to play.
So the last two times Miller has played York more than a few minutes, the seldom-used freshman guard has done just that.
York hit 2 of 5 three-pointers on Dec. 22 against East Tennessee State and had the same mark from long range Saturday against USC. York also added 1 of 2 free throws against the Trojans to finish with a season-high seven points.
“I think he made us all feel good watching him,” Miller said.
Miller did not play York in any Pac-12 games until Saturday but hinted that York may have a chance for a role this season, saying “what worked two weeks ago may not work two weeks from now.”
Until then, Miller said York is “in a really good mindset.”
“He’s a big, big part of our future,” Miller said. “That’s not just me talking. You watch him every day in practice and fast forward to year from now (and consider) who we lose.”
One of the reasons York has not gained much playing time is the simple fact that Miller doesn’t want to take away minutes from Nick Johnson or other veteran wings in the high number of close games UA has had lately.
Another is York’s defense. But Miller said York’s defense has “improved by leaps and bounds.”
“It’s just repetitions,” Miller said. “He’s not a big guy so he has to be in the right place at the right time. But there’s a difference in playing 30 minutes or eight minutes. Many times if you’re going hard in those four to eight minutes, and you’re responsible, it doesn’t matter how big you are.”
Miller also played forward Angelo Chol for the first time in three games, giving the sophomore forward eight minutes.
Chol is only averaging 4.3 minutes in the Pac-12 games he has played this season but Miller said Chol’s attitude has also remained good.
“I was talking to him last week, and told him where I want to play him, what his role is and that we still believe in him,” Miller said. “He said, `Coach, as long as we’re winning you never have to talk to me.'
“Some guys may say that and as soon as they leave, they’re on a different path. Angelo is really on that path. Angelo’s future is extremely bright. What you see now and what you see down the road is going to be two different things. I promise you that.”
While Kaleb Tarczewski hasn’t struggled to find time on the floor, he has sometimes struggled to get the ball.
Tarczewski took only eight shots combined over his previous three games, despite turning the ball over only once against ASU and UCLA each (but five times at OSU).
But on Saturday against USC, Tarczewski made 3 of 7 shots and also tied Brandon Ashley for the team rebounding high at seven. Tarczewski also went 4 for 7 from the free throw line to total 10 points.
“It was really nice having seven shots and I was fouled a lot,” Tarczewski said. “It was nice to get the ball and kind of show what I can do, work on stuff I need to work on.
“But there’s so many great players on this team that sometimes you have to be unselfish. You really can’t demand the ball. You just kind of play your game and play how it best affects the team.”
With seven rebounds Saturday, Tarczewski is now averaging 5.7 in conference play, the second-highest number on the team after Solomon Hill (6.7).
“Kaleb’s getting better,” Miller said. “He’s not getting enough credit for how he’s rebounding. He had seven tonight and he gives us so many things.
“Scoring is going to be part of his future. Maybe it’ll be part of this year’s future. But he’ll get better in that area. If he was a better free throw shooter (Tarczewski has made 53.3 percent overall this season), he’d be a better scorer. That’s also something we’re working with him on.
“You can’t lose sight of (the fact that) while he’s working on things that make him a better player and make us a better team, he also adds tremendous value along the way while he’s doing it.”
Dana Altman isn't about to look at the big picture yet after Oregon hung on to beat Washington and improve to 7-0 in conference play.
But the Ducks suffered a big loss when they announced point guard Dominic Artis is out indefinitely. Altman declined to give a timetable for his return but the Register-Guard said he should be able to return this season.
Lorenzo Romar remains encouraged even as the Huskies are skidding into their home date with Arizona on Thursday.
UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad said he'd never heard of Jordan Bachynski. Now he has.
Two Pac-12 games today:
Stanford at Utah, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks). Utah's Jordan Loveridge is questionable with a possible concussion for what will be the Utes' first-ever home game on a Sunday.