Notebook: On Coleman's dislocated shoulder, the rise of Doutrive, Ayton in the Ring and more
Lots of storylines from game one of Pac-12 play
Arizona men's basketball won their first conference game of the season against Colorado on Thursday, Jan. 3.
Arizona bested Colorado 64-56 to begin Pac-12 play and there are plenty of intriguing topics to dissect after the win. Here’s the need-to-know info from UA’s first game of 2019:
Arizona’s tendency for the first half of the season has been start slow, finish strong. But the ‘Cats bucked the trend to start conference play and got out to a hot start to begin the play. With Colorado leading 13-11 at the 12:20 mark, Arizona’s offensive turned on the jets and outscored the Buffs 28-11 the rest of the half to go into the break up by 15 points.
The most impressive stretch of the half started at the 9:10 mark when Brandon Williams converted an and-one opportunity, then Emmanuel Akot hit a 3-pointer, followed by back-to-back layups from Brandon Randolph and Devonaire Doutrive. That run pushed Arizona’s lead from three points to 11 points.
“The first 20 minutes of this game was among our best basketball. We moved the ball really well against the zone and played good offense and good defense,” head coach Sean Miller said.
It looked like the Wildcats would be able to sustain that level of play for 40 minutes and had a 17-point lead at the 9:40 mark of the second half, but a few lapses on both ends of the court allowed Colorado to remain competitive the rest of the way. The Buffs cut the lead down to seven at one point, however, the ‘Cats didn’t let it get closer than that.
Coleman’s hurt shoulder
Miller confirmed postgame that starting point guard Justin Coleman suffered a dislocated shoulder in Monday’s practice and he wasn’t sure how much Coleman would be able to play, if at all this week. But after talking with Coleman and trainer Justin Kokoskie, it was determined that Coleman wasn’t at risk to further hurt his shoulder, so they let Coleman give it a go.
The 5-foot-9 guard came off the bench for the first time this season and was only able to play four minutes. It was clear that the injury affected Coleman as the senior badly missed his only shot and wasn’t as aggressive with the ball in his hands.
“Once we got him out there and started playing, I think it was in everybody’s best interest to kind of let him keep getting better and my hope is against Utah he can play more and almost grow his role back to what it was,” Miller said.
Brandon Williams got the starting nod over Coleman at point guard and despite a 6-17 shooting performance, the freshman showed that he’s capable of running the offense as he dished out six assists while committing just two turnovers.
“Just leading the offense and just being that vocal leader, kind of like the quarterback of the team, looking at guys off pick and rolls and just making smart decisions,” Williams said of his new mindset.
It was only a matter of time before the world would see more of Devonaire Doutrive and the freshman had his best game of the season on Thursday. Coleman’s injury meant that Arizona would need to dig into its reserves earlier than usual and the freshman provided a big boost, tying his career high of 8 points (3-5) and 4 rebounds in 12 minutes of action.
“I was really excited to see it because that is kind of how things are supposed to go. A young guy fights, scratches, and claws into the lineup,” Sean Miller said. “He doesn’t give up on himself and stays with it and I believe he will be a big part of what we do this year and certainly if you watch him, you know his best days are in his future.”
The 6-foot-5 guard had been Arizona’s ninth of 10th man of the bench so far, yet the lack of playing time hasn’t changed his mentality.
“I’m just being patient. Whatever is needed is my role,” Doutrive said.
Arizona will likely need his role to increase going forward, especially if Coleman isn’t at full strength.
Deandre in the Ring
The No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft made his first return to McKale Center as he was inducted into Arizona’s Ring of Honor. It was first announced at the Red-Blue Game in October that Ayton would join the elusive group along with Jerryd Bayless, but the 7-1 big man was unable to make it down to Tucson as he prepared to the NBA season.
Ayton received a standing ovation from the McKale faithful during the ceremony at halftime.
In his first year in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, the former Wildcat is averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds while boasting an impressive 60 percent shooting percentage. No Suns rookie has averaged a double-double in their rookie season and Ayton is on track to do so.
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