Basketball notes: UA picks up win against familiar coach
Miller receives LOIs from recruits
Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat
UTEP head coach Tim Floyd
In defeating UTEP 72-51, the Arizona Wildcats improved to 2-0, and did so facing former head coaching candidate Tim Floyd.
Floyd, a former coach at USC, was rumored to have been a person of interest in Arizona’s head coaching search that brought in current UA head coach Sean Miller. Despite taking the loss, Floyd was upbeat after the game about returning to Tucson.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” Floyd said. “I have had so much respect for the program through the years. Their talent now is starting to look like [former Hall of Fame head coach] Lute’s [Olson’s] teams back in the 1990s.”
Floyd played a role in recruiting senior forward Solomon Hill while Hill was a high school player in Los Angeles, and Floyd complimented the growth of the program since his departure from USC.
“They may be more talented than when I was in the league,” Floyd said. “This is a team that I feel has a chance to compete for it all down the stretch. I don’t want to put that on them … I really like their team.”
Two 2013 recruits sign LOI
Wednesday marked National Signing Day, and Rondae Jefferson and Elliott Pitts, two 2013 Arizona commits signed their letters of intent, officially marking them as members of next years Arizona team.
Jefferson, rated the No. 17 prospect of ESPN 100 of the 2013 class, is expected to fill the void at small forward that will be left by graduating seniors Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom.
“When I watch Rondae play, sometimes, as a college coach, you want to draft a player almost,” Miller said. “You almost wish you could pick him, but it doesn’t work that way. Rondae is a physical player; he’s a winner.”
Jefferson, a Chester High product from Chester, Pa., also received offers from Florida, Texas, Rutgers, Syracuse, Memphis and Temple, where his brother played.
“He plays 4A basketball in the state of Pennsylvania,” Miller said. “That state is as competitive as any in the country, and he’s won 58 games in a row. He’s a warrior.”
Pitts committed to the Wildcats in the summer while Arizona was playing an exhibition schedule in the Bahamas. He had recruiting visits set up at Georgetown, Virginia and Washington, according to the Arizona Daily Star.
Pitts and Jefferson hail from “storied basketball programs,” according to Miller, which increased his interest in them.
“They’re coached on a daily basis that winning matters in their school,” Miller said. “Elliott has been a central piece to their program the last few years. I don’t believe he’s getting enough credit right now for who he is as a player.”
Pitts is ranked No. 91 in the ESPN 100.
Miller said he expects to sign at least one more recruit, if not two.
Looking for another level
The Wildcats have beaten both Charleston Southern and UTEP in sound fashion, scoring with ease at times.
Senior forward Solomon Hill said the Wildcats have a chance to get better.
“We’re still finding our way offensively,” Hill said after the game. “We come in relaxed … we have another level to get to.”
A big factor in Arizona’s victory on Thursday night had less to do with offense and more to do with effort, as the Wildcats knocked the Miners off the glass, outrebounding them 35-15 in the game.
“I’m proud of our team’s effort tonight on the glass,” Miller said. “It says a lot about our depth and size inside. To me, it was the difference in the game.”
Arizona’s 22 defensive rebounds allowed for just two fast break points, and the Wildcats turned the ball over 19 times, 11 more than against Charleston Southern.
“The good news is, I think it shows our upside on offense,” Miller said of the turnovers. “If we had 12 or 13 turnovers instead of 19, the points could have been more in the eighties.”