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Arizona basketball notes: Miller marvels at Aaron Gordon’s rebounding skills

Aaron Gordon comes down with one of his 10 rebounds vs. Long Beach State. Photo by Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Gordon comes down with one of his 10 rebounds vs. Long Beach State. Photo by Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Only two games into his college career, an Aaron Gordon double-double seems as routine as a Ka’Deem Carey 100-yard rushing day.

Gordon, one of the freshmen expected to brighten college basketball this season, is right on target.

He followed a 13-point, 10-rebound game against Cal Poly with 14 points and 10 rebounds against Long Beach State on Monday night.

“Aaron Gordon averaging 10 rebounds a game through the first two games is outstanding,” said coach Sean Miller.

Outstanding, but not altogether surprising.

What can Miller realistically expect from Gordon on the glass?

“Right what he’s doing,” Miller said.

The 6-9 freshman plays both forward positions for Arizona, and he has begun to answer critics of his shooting touch by hitting 2 of 3 3-pointers, concentrating on getting good looks and not forcing long attempts while closely guarded.

He has a superb all-around game — Miller cited a bounce pass in transition to Nick Johnson as one of the best plays of Monday night’s game — but the coach really lights up when talking about Gordon’s rebounding.

“He has an amazing second jump,” Miller said.

“You don’t see many guys move the way he moves. He jumps once, lands, his second jump is like so quick. He has a knack for the ball. It’s what he does well.

“At times, he’s our small forward and he gives us a real advantage on the glass when he plays that position.”

Asked if Gordon’s second jump was comparable to others he has seen, Miller said:

Derrick Williams was like that, but Aaron is just different. He’s probably a better rebounder than Derrick.”

* * *

Kansas transfer big man Zach Peters, about a week after being cleared to practice following long-suffering concussion problems, made his Arizona debut with 9:45 to go in the second half vs. Long Beach, the game well in hand.

The concussion injuries led to his departure from Kansas at the end of the 2012 fall semester, when he didn’t know if he was going to able to play again.

“It was nice for our future and his at Arizona that he was able to get out there,” Miller said.

“Make no mistake, there was a chance that he never was going to be able to do that again, at one point. Our medical staff has done an incredible job, as has Zach and his family. It was just nice to see him put a uniform on and get out there and play.

“Hopefully, this is the beginning of a nice, long career.”

For now, it looks like Miller wants to go eight-deep in his rotation. He adds that “it doesn’t mean we won’t need nine and 10 — Matt Korcheck and Zach Peters,” especially in cases when the Cats have foul trouble up front.

Korcheck, a junior college transfer post player, also made his Arizona debut against Long Beach State. Korcheck had a dunk and two rebounds. Peters missed his two 3-point attempts. Each played seven minutes.

“The more experience they can get here in November … they are definitely going to be called upon as we move forward,” Miller said.

* * *

Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports recently rated his Top 25 most intriguing coaches in college basketball. Miller was No. 8.

Forde wrote about Miller:

Jockeying with Mark Few for an unwanted title: Most Accomplished Coach Without a Final Four. After two trips to the Elite Eight and four to the Sweet Sixteen at Xavier and Arizona, he may have the team to get him out of that competition this year. Now in his fifth year at Arizona, Miller has re-established the program and seems ready to take that next step – a step the Wildcats have not taken since 2001.

Here is the rest of the article on Yahoo! Sports.

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