Jordin Mayes says it’s not hard to stay positive, but the numbers suggest otherwise.
The Arizona senior guard played in all 13 games of the Wildcats’ nonconference season, but averaged only 5.8 minutes per game. Having slipped behind sophomore Gabe York in the Wildcats’ rotation, Mayes is playing roughly half as much as he did last season.
Mayes actually averaged 13.8 minutes a game during nonconference play last season, and finished averaging 11.8 minutes. He played an average 17.7 minutes as a part-time starter in 2011-12 and 14.3 minutes as a freshman in 2010-11.
Mayes was given two of his bigger opportunities of the season at the end of nonconference play, logging nine minutes each against Southern and Northern Arizona. He helped UA on the defensive end in those two games, while also hitting 1 of 4 field goals and going 3 of 4 from the line.
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“With me, it’s just coming in and being positive and trying to help my team out the best way possible on the defensive end and offensively,” Mayes said after UA’s 77-44 win over NAU on Monday, later adding, “It’s just having a belief in yourself, and knowing that once you get that time, to be productive and help the team out any way that’s possible.”
Coach Sean Miller has said Mayes doesn’t get enough credit for his defensive ability. The senior says he enjoys playing on that end of the floor.
“It feels good to stay in front of somebody, stop them, and help your teammates out when other players drive,” Mayes said.
But while Miller had a chance to play Mayes, York, forward Matt Korcheck and guard Elliott Pitts during the Southern and NAU games — Miller said he did not play freshman Zach Peters because of “where he’s at” in practice — UA still pretty much has a seven-man rotation, with York and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson coming off the bench.
Mayes makes it an eight-man rotation. Barely.
“Jordin did a good job the last couple of games,” Miller said. “That doesn’t surprise me. He’s the most experienced. But no, I don’t feel good (about the bench).
“Gabe York is the one guy who’s really solidified himself. He played great basketball (against NAU). I feel really good about Gabe moving forward, but we’re not nine or 10 deep. (If) guys come in the game and get scored on, they’re not going to play.”