LAS VEGAS — Getting ready for another round of Arizona-Colorado this afternoon. Here are three things to watch:
Sean Miller went on a rant after last Saturday’s game against Arizona State, saying the first three minutes of the second half — a span in which UA was called for seven fouls — was the most “bizarre” thing he’s seen in basketball.
Launching from that, I asked him Monday what he thinks is the most difficult call for officials to make.
“This year, ball-screen defense,” Miller said.
Arizona’s likes its help defender to jump out on the screen, re-directing the dribbler. You’ve seen it hundreds of times; Grant Jerrett, say, jumps out, hands high and tries to plant his feet and establish the right of way in front of the ball-handler.
On the other hand, Miller intimates that Arizona’s dribblers get beat up on those screens … and he was ready to go into sarcastic mode again.
“Some players reach,” Miller said. “It used to be an automatic foul when they reach. I’m thinking about telling our guys to reach now, just because I think it’s such an advantage when they reach, smack your arm, and it’s not called.
“We might have to change to just smacking the living hell out of the guy with the ball instead of what they teach in textbooks — show your hands. To me, that call right there is a game-changer. And it’s not a single call. It happens on every single possession.
“I’m trying to go through my mind how it’s going to be called in our next game. Are they going to allow a guy to reach? Not reach? It’s called so differently. I think it’s become a difficult call for the Pac-12 conference officials.”
2. Nick Johnson
Was the Nick Johnson who showed up against Arizona State last weekend the same guy who is going to show up today?
The Wildcats need a productive Johnson on both ends of the court. Problem is, he hasn’t exactly stuffed the box score in five games against Colorado.
Here’s the cringe-worthy cumulative line: Johnson is shooting 9 of 38 (23.7 percent) vs. the Buffs, averaging 7.4 points. He’s 4 of 22 from 3-ppint range. Only once has he reached double-digit points, hitting 12 points in the game in Boulder this season despite shooting 2 of 11 from the field.
3. Andre Roberson
The Colorado forward, who averages a double-double (10.8 points, 11.3 rebounds), returned to the court Wednesday after missing the final two games of the regular season due to illness.
“I felt a little rusty but it was good to be back on the court,” he said after the win over Oregon State.
Beavers coach Craig Robinson, whose team won at Colorado four days earlier, was asked what was the difference in the games.
“Is that a trick question,” he said, “or did you not see Andre Roberson out there?”