April 16, 2021

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What to watch for when Arizona travels to Tempe to experience ASU on Thursday

Arizona head coach Sean Miller experienced his weekly push conference on Wednesday, Jan. 20, previewing tonight’s rivalry matchup towards Arizona State at 7 p.m. MST. 

Almost everything went by the e book except when Miller dropped an damage update about freshman guard Kerr Kriisa. Miller explained Kriisa also suffered a concussion whilst breaking his nose in practice past week, and his initial scheduled return for Feb. 6 is in dilemma now, and there is no timetable for his Arizona debut. 

Kriisa was a really ranked 4-star prospect in this year’s recruiting class and is intended to add loads extra capturing and playmaking. 

“I wish we were a improved defensive team,” Miller mentioned. “Our defense is not wherever we want it to be.” 

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That was Miller’s response when requested about his team’s protection and the minor improvement they’ve proven on that stop. He is incredibly clearly not satisfied with the defensive efficiency his staff has shown this year, as Miller has generally experienced quite gritty groups. This is new for him, and it appears to be to be feeding on him alive. 

Miller certainly has great purpose to be upset as the Wildcats couldn’t end a plastic bag in a breeze in its losses to UCLA and USC earlier in the yr. Arizona just can’t take part in the postseason this 12 months, but when they return substantially of this squad subsequent calendar year, they are likely to be predicted to be a great deal-improved and make a deep postseason operate. In March, you can not make a deep operate without having getting equipped to count on and belief your defense to get stops down the extend or to spark up a operate. 

Miller was also asked about the level guard matchup in between Remy Martin and James Akinjo. Soon after heading on a couple of minutes rave of Remy Martin, he last but not least obtained back to the unique concern of the matchup.

“It’s not James vs. him,” Miller claimed. 

Miller does not want this to grow to be a video game of a person-on-1 with the other eight men participating in cheerleader. This Arizona staff moves the ball a lot superior than past squads, and they are so properly rounded and deep. It would be sensible to get absolutely everyone included by keeping that ball pinging. 

Relevant: Hoops: the Every day Wildcat basketball podcast [S1 Ep3] The Bennedict Mathurin game, Kerr Kriisa’s prospective effect and previewing the ASU online games

Akinjo can get a very little dribble joyful and use up the shot clock hoping to discover his possess shot. That kills the offense and ruins the strength of the staff whilst the other 4 men stand and watch a man dribble. Arizona is at their ideal when Akinjo is in attack/playmaker manner, and he requires to try to remember that in his first rivalry matchup. 

What to check out for tonight

Rivalry games are often distinct from frequent year online games, primarily games on the street, admirers or not. That currently being mentioned, Arizona really should not eliminate this recreation, and it shouldn’t be that shut.

The Sun Devils are at an incredibly disappointing 4-6 all round and 1-3 in the convention. They’ve had their honest share of postponed games like Arizona, but so has the complete country. Miller has been irritated with his team’s protection all period, but this should be the defensive “get right” recreation. 

As very long as Arizona comes out broad awake and performs hard from begin to finish, they really should be capable to cease ASU head mentor Bobby Hurley’s easy “isolated, a person-on-one particular and get out of the way offense” that just does not fly in university except you have Christian Laettner on your team. 

Freshmen wings Dalen Terry and Bennedict Mathurin will have their palms entire with 5-star freshman Josh Christopher. Christopher is averaging 16.5 details, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 helps on an economical 46% from the field. Christopher has been praised for his iso shot-making all time but his off-ball movement has been criticized. 

Mathurin and Terry are essentially fairly superior matchups for him as they are lengthy, fast and athletic. As extensive as they remain in front of him and make lifetime tricky, he will give up the ball and get started to fade away from the activity on equally finishes. 

The backcourt matchup, as Miller talked about, will not be uncomplicated making an attempt to cease Martin and Marcus Bagley from obtaining buckets. Their very best bet could possibly be to operate a pack line protection to contest all the slashes and drives to the rim. 

This could be a good sport for Jordan Brown as extensive as he’s enjoying bodily in the limited space. The X-element for the Wildcats will be the remarkable freshman Azuolas Tubelis. Tubelis will be stretching the flooring, creating driving lanes for Akinjo, Mathurin and Terrell Brown and will give Jordan Brown an open paint to function just one-on-one in the post. ASU does not have a good matchup for Tubelis, a huge dude that can range out to go over or a wing to toast Tubelis on the perimeter with a compact-ball lineup. 

This really should be a Miller “muscle flex” match. Likely into the period, Arizona Point out was rated. Arizona was not. ASU was picked in advance of Arizona in the Pac-12 polls. Consider Miller seen that? You have to think so, and Thursday night is a great time to prove that. 

Last year’s meltdown towards ASU had to have still left a bad taste in Miller’s mouth. Most of this roster did not take part in that match, and this staff already has demonstrated significantly extra heart and resilience than last yr.


Abide by Patrick Carr on Twitter