The York transition
Ryan Revock / The Daily Wildcat
UA sophomore guard Gabe York shoots the ball against Augustana on Oct. 28 at the Mckale Memorial Center.
Arizona sophomore Gabe York is not the same athlete he was last year.
It took an unsatisfactory 2012-13 season to motivate him into emerging as a stronger player this year.
“I had to learn that the hard way last year, but it definitely helped me, in the long run, become a better basketball player,” York said.
He spent the majority of his freshman year on the bench, averaging 5.8 minutes per game and 2.4 points. York assumed the role of observer rather than an outspoken leader.
“I sort of just took a back seat and just tried to look at everything and view everything because everything was coming so fast,” York said. “But this year, it’s definitely changed; being hopefully one of the top three guards coming in and playing a lot of minutes, I have to be […] one of the ones who can speak out.”
At the exhibition game against Augustana, he doubled his career high with 14 points in 21 minutes. The sophomore also said he gained around 13 pounds in the offseason.
“He’s a real pivotal part of this year’s team because he can shoot the basketball; he can score,” head coach Sean Miller said after the game. “You put him out there with our big guys in a point guard, he’s going to get some open shots — and there’s no question he can knock them in.”
Last season, Arizona was in the back court with a wide option of backups when one fouled out. With so many other guards, York didn’t get much playing time. But junior point guard T.J. McConnell said he still knew from practice that York was reliable.
“When I guarded him last year, I knew that I couldn’t give him any room because when he got open for a shot, it [was] going in,” McConnell said.
Now that former Wildcats like Mark Lyons and Kevin Parrom are gone, York said he has a confidence he lacked last year. The sophomore has made it a goal to earn more playing time this season.
“The situation I was in — it wasn’t very fun for me having to sit back and watch my teammates play,” York said.
Miller emphasized that while York is a reliable shooter, he has to be a strong defender as well if he wants more time on the court.
York said if he makes improvements in certain areas, he expects to see an increase in playing time.
“If I can just play defense and play at a high level, I’ll get the minutes that I want,” York said.
York came from Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, Calif., where he was ranked the No. 11 shooting guard by Rivals. He didn’t have to play much defense, so now that he is at the collegiate level, he has to adjust.
“It was hard to kind of translate from going through high school, where I had to score the ball and I had to stay on the court mainly for offense, to coming here, where people are just as good as I am and happen to play defense,” York said.
His lack of performance on the defensive side was just another factor that kept York on the bench for much of last season.
The guard will spend this season trying to fill a bigger role than he has ever had before: being one of Arizona’s most reliable shooters.
— Follow Megan Coghlan @MeganCoghlan