T.J. McConnell set the example in a lot of ways of what Sean Miller wants from his Arizona Wildcats.
From the time he spent on the floor during his last two seasons as well as the year he was not game eligible after transferring from Duquesne. It was said that McConnell in that time treated practice every day like games because he could not suit up on game day. The rest is history with him and what he meant to the program for two years.
Ryan Anderson and Kadeem Allen are the latest examples of the notion of sitting for a year with the program and making the most of the time being ineligible which in turn leads to being more prepared once eligible.
For Anderson in particular, he has come in and been not just one of the best players for the Wildcats this season, but one of the best in the conference. He is averaging a double-double a game (14.4 points and 10.4 rebounds) through 14 games. His head coach, Sean Miller, believes the year off from games paid dividends for his development within the program.
“I think the year in general just being around everyday, watching practice, being a part of practice, being a part of these big games and kind of following how we do things, it has prepared him for the year that he has had so far,” Miller said.
Anderson has bee a workhorse on the boards this season. Clearly going up against the likes of Kaleb Tarczewski, Dusan Ristic as well as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brandon Ashley in practice last year has given him the strength, fundamentals and confidence to rebound against anyone. The most rebounds he averaged in a season during his time at Boston College was eight per game which he did his sophomore year. He has exceeded that about halfway through this season while having ankle issues throughout the year.
“He’s a pleasure to be around,” Miller added. “He gets the job done in the classroom, off the court and I believe he is really primed to have a great next couple of months. Especially if he keeps developing that last phase.”
That last phase for Anderson as well as every other player on the Wildcat roster, goes back to Miller believing it can always be better on defense.
“Being in the right place every single time down,” Miller explained. “Not just three out of four on defense.”
“This is our room for error, it’s razor thin,” he mentioned. “So we have to be in the right place, our effort level has to be on it, we have to have tremendous practices and we need some health because if we don’t, there are teams that are going to be more talented, there are going to be teams that maybe have some gifts that we don’t. The way we will have that set is if we have that identity in place.”
The Wildcats will look to end a two game skid against the Washington schools from McKale center this weekend.