Arizona 92, Penn 82 quotes & notes

Arizona Coach Sean Miller – “First of all we played a very good team tonight in Penn. They are credibly well coached, especially offensively. We watched them against Alabama, we watched them against Providence, and then Central Florida yesterday. They’re a really difficult team to defend because their center is so good. Usually when you’re skilled as Penn is, you’re probably going to be missing something around the basket. They really aren’t because AJ Brodeur, number 25, is the guy I’m talking about, he’s a very smart player. He can beat you at the pass, he can drive it, he can score around the basket. In the first half, we did ok against him. He was 3 for 10 from the field. He had ten shots, and that’s a concern. Thank goodness he got into foul trouble early in the second half; that really influenced the game. Unfortunately, as it influenced him, Dingle really got going, and we were aware of him as a heck of a freshman. If you look at his performances in their big games, he’s getting about 25 [ppg]; he had six 3’s in a row. I’ve never seen so many 3’s go in two days. We’ve given up 26 made three in two games; ten in the second half today. Some of it is clearly who we’re playing, some of it is our defense. I really think the early part of our season, we’re only going to go as far as our defense improves. Who we are today can be better than who we are tomorrow. There were segments where we were far better than we were last night against Pepperdine. Being able to sustain it for 40 minutes, sustain it when we sub throughout long stretches, I would say we realty defense is peaks and valleys. Offensively we’re getting smart, we’re utilizing our strength, and that is our balance. We can beat you around the basket, we can beat you from the point guard position scoring, we can beat you in transition, and I think in the half court we’re starting to get better and better shots. Tonight, having 8 turnovers was really important towards our win. I want to credit Chase Jeter. I really got on him last night when he played 26 minutes and didn’t have a rebound. I didn’t think he was playing what he’s capable of. Tonight, he was 8 for 9 from the floor and he had 6 rebounds. He was really important to us winning. Obviously, Nico was spectacular on offense. He hit a couple stretches there where the defense is at his mercy. He can really score and make shots; and he did that. A lot like last night, through a win, we can learn a lot. I do think we were better through stretches of this game on defense, but we have to continue to improve. We really do. Some of it [having] a lot of young guys, and having teams like Pepperdine and Penn, they drive young guys crazy. They have never seen the movement in the shooting in these spots like their dealing with right now. That’s the good part about being here at this tournament. We’ve seen two unique styles, we’ve been on a neutral court, and we came here to compete for the championship. It’s been 4 or 5 years since we’ve won one of these, and we have a chance here on Sunday against Wake Forest. We’re really excited; the ACC a great league and they’re a part of it so we have to be ready to go.

Arizona Guard Nico Mannion – (On Penn’s 13 made 3-pt shooting being Arizona defense or Penn making good shots) “I’d say it’s more on us then them. I think we gave them quite a bit of open shots. When you give a team that can shoot the ball that confidence, it just makes it that much harder. So, I think they got hot in the second half and ended up shooting 10 for 20 from the 3-pt line; and that’s on us more than on them, and we’ll get better at that.” (Making a variety of shots and offensive scoring) “I was just trying to be aggressive and trying to make plays. I hit a couple and started feeling good. We were just playing well together. We were pushing the ball in transition and I think that’s when we’re at our best. I was getting good looks; we were all getting good looks and it just made it that much better.”

Arizona Center Chase Jeter – (On his best game of the season) “Honestly my teammates were just able to find me in the post. A lot of teams have been scouting and seeing what Zeke [Nnaji] has been capable of, so early on teams were starting to double team him and he’s able to find me out of the trap.” (On playing two games outside of their home arena) “I think we need to do better job defensively. Give credit to Penn, especially [Penn Guard] Jordan Dingle who hit seven threes on us. We have some time here to scout for our next game and make sure we’re better prepared defensively.”

Penn Head Coach Steve Donahue – “I just told our guys obviously you want to win every game but even more important than that is the way you compete. That’s what we talk about all the time and I just feel our group really competed in every aspect of the game. First of all, Arizona is extremely talented, and I thought they played extremely well. We just didn’t have a lot of things go our way for long stretches. In particular with AJ (Brodeur) on the bench with the four fouls. To cut it to four I was just really proud of our guys but give Arizona credit they are extremely talented and play extremely hard.”

Offense in first half vs second half – “I think we were three for fourteen from three in the first half, but the shots were wide open. Arizona played very aggressive, but I thought we got it to somebody out of the trap and swung it. First half we missed them, second half we made them. I thought we had good shots almost every possession and they’re a good defensive team. They have great length, athleticism, pressure, but I thought we made good decisions. The kid Jordan Dingle is a freshman and I think he started feeling it a little bit and being a little more confident. For the most part we had good shots most of the game.”

Thoughts on team’s performance with AJ limited due to fouls – “He’s never fouled out of a game. He is just a very unusual player in that he is a post player who plays 30-40 minutes and doesn’t foul out yet plays hard as heck. The outcome is disappointing but that being said, for us to overcome that against a team like Arizona and cut it to four down the stretch, I just think this team has a really big ceiling that I am excited about. Just got to keep working at it and come January, February, March, hopefully we are a much better team than we are right now.”

Wooden Chips

Arizona (8-0)

Penn (4-3)