Friday looked like just another night for Allonzo Trier, maybe even better.
The sophomore wing tied with Dusan Ristic as the Red-Blue Game’s leading scorer with 16 points. He was 7 for 11 from the field and had three assists to one turnover.
Sean Miller was asked after the game if Trier was good to go for the regular season.
“I can’t really respond,” Miller said. “I think you’re talking about the rumors that are out there. I can’t respond to that.”
Miller said he "can't respond to the rumors" on two follow-up questions. Before the game, Arizona AD Greg Byrne declined comment.
Trier was one of several returning players who impressed during the 24-minute intrasquad scrimmage.
Kadeem Allen appeared markedly more confident while collecting 14 points, five rebounds and two steals, having been assigned to mostly play off the ball this season after starting at point guard last season.
“You can see tonight he has more talent in that area as a perimeter player,” Miller said. “You have to remember a couple of years ago, Kadeem averaged 28 at Hutch (CC). He’s waited his turn, paid his dues, and has had a really good offseason. He’s mature, he’s older and we need him to be a really good player for sure.”
Allen said Miller has encouraged him to look for his offense.
“Coach tells me every day: Take open threes, take all the open looks I get, and just be aggressive,” Allen said.
-- Dusan Ristic had 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting, while collecting three rebounds, though Miller said any improvement on defense will be best seen once the season begins.
“We’re gonna learn as we play against different players,” Miller said. “You don’t really know because you’re playing against yourself but moving forward, Dusan has prepared himself to be better. He’s prepared himself to move easier. He’s smarter.
“I talked to (Oklahoma City coach) Billy Donovan, and he was raving about Kaleb (Tarczewski), how physical he is, how smart he is on defense. It’s kind of like, `Yeah, you know that.’
“Dusan was around that for two years and I think he really learned a lot from that experience. But now is his time and we have an incredibly gifted offensive player who’s going to be an improved defender. It's up to us to continue to teach him.”
-- Parker Jackson-Cartwright had seven assists without a single turnover, along with four rebounds while shooting 1 for 3 from the field.
“I think back to a year ago or maybe two years ago when he would have been playing against T.J. (McConnell) and, man, he’s really gotten better,” Miller said. “It’s really obvious to see. He’s stronger, faster, more sure of himself and he’s one of the many things I’m excited about.”
Freshman Kobi Simmons played opposite Jackson-Cartwright for much of the scrimmage, going 1 for 6 from the field for five points with two rebounds. He had two assists and two turnovers.
But Miller cut him a break, noting that Simmons is being asked to play both guard positions as a true freshman.
“It’s tough to judge Kobi right now because he’s playing two positions, one of which is the point guard,” Miller said. “There’s more of an upside to that but right now he’s not gonna look as good in a game like this as if I had just given him one thing to learn.
“He had a lot going on but I think for his career and the depth of our team we’re trying to move him back and forth right now."
Miller said Ray Smith has made “tremendous gains” since returning from a second ACL tear suffered a year ago.
Smith had 10 points, five rebounds, one assist and one block.
“He has a ways to go but I’ve already seen him over the last three or four weeks make tremendous gains,” Miller said. “I’m excited to continue to watch him and hopefully he stays injury free.”
Miller said UA’s early practice schedule of three days on and two days off has been ideal for Smith as he works his way back in; Smith will likely take some breaks while UA ramps up to a schedule where it will practice four times over every five-day period.
But so far, Miller said, Smith’s work in the weight room has paid off.
“I think he’s the strongest player on our team leg-wise, which is great for his future because it protects him,” Miller said. “One thing about his injuries: Both have been repaired, so they’re stronger than every before. That’s the foundation for his growth. He’s worked on his game; he worked on his shot. But he really started playing five-on-five three or four weeks ago. …
"Watching him a week, two weeks from now, a month, two months, my hope is that like a lot of our freshmen you’ll see him gain confidence and continue to be more sure of himself.”
Miller says Rawle Alkins “really has an amazing personality,” which probably led to the fact that the freshman surprisingly talked Miller into becoming a dunk contest prop.
“He actually started to talk to me about this about a month ago and of course I filed it away and forgot about it,” Miller said. “Then two weeks ago, he reminded me again and after shootaround, he waited for me and I thought something was wrong. All of a sudden I looked at him and you could tell he was about ready to ask me for the third time."
Having made a “deal” with Alkins in which he could coach Alkins hard defensively in exchange for playing along Friday, Miller said Alkins has been a sight to watch on and off the court.
“When you watch him go about it, that it tells you a lot about him,” Miller said. “He has great charisma, he’s team guy, really a fun person to be around. I’m excited he’s here.”
On the court, “you can see he’s really strong driving to the basket, and he’s under control. A lot of guys who are really strong drivers are out of control when they get here. He’s really not. He’ll make the pass and he’s somebody we have a lot to work with to him get better.”
Keanu Pinder, the Australian juco transfer, was just 1 for 5 from the field for two points but had six rebounds and showed the potential to help inside, especially if UA is short because of injuries or foul trouble.
“He’s somebody else who’s really been invaluable,” Miller said. “He’s older, he’s quick defensively, he’s rugged. He gives us a rebounding dimension, adds depth to the frontcourt when you get into foul trouble. I think he’s been one of the pleasant surprises early on for us.”
So what does it all mean? This was, basically, just a dressed-up scrimmage.
“I told our guys after the game, ‘I’ve watched players in this game be the highest scorer and a month later, they’re not good enough to even play in a regular-season college game,' ” Miller said. “I’ve watched guys struggle in the Red and Blue game, usually the first-year players, and become first-round picks that summer.
“You have to take what you see out there with a grain of salt. But it is always a reminder when you watch the Red-Blue Game the advantage of experience.”
Miller indicated that the Red-Blue Game, and what happens after it, is also a good way for coaches to start judging attitude.
“The role they have at the beginning of the year might not even be close the role they have at the end of the year but the way it will change is to stay with us and believe in what we do,” Miller said. “So tonight is usually the first test. Once you see how they react to the Red-Blue -- if they have problems, they’re never making it here.”
All of our main Red-Blue Game coverage -- including a main story, notebook and photo gallery -- is attached, along with a PDF of the box score.