Nick Johnson

Turnovers once again an issue in No. 8 Arizona’s win over Washington

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The key for No. 8 Arizona being successful in March is a simple one, and it’s been stated so many times to this point in the season. “If they find a way to limit their turnovers…”

In the aftermath of the Wildcats’ 57-53 win at Washington on Thursday night, is it time to ask whether or not Arizona is capable of cutting down on their turnovers? Arizona turned the ball over 17 times on Thursday, with 12 of the miscues coming in the first half, but they got away with it due in part to their scoring 20 points off of 17 Washington turnovers.

The turnover issue goes hand-in-hand with Arizona’s sluggish starts, something that throughout the course of the season has been matched by their flair for the dramatic in wins over the likes of Florida and Colorado. And on Thursday night the Wildcats played one of their worst halves of the season to date.

“I’d size the game up like this: that was as bad of an offensive first half as we’ve had all season,” head coach Sean Miller said after the game. “Along the lines of Southern Miss, because we had 12 turnovers and it’s kind of a struggle because we have individually talented guys and usually as the season grows things become easier to play together as a team.

“It’s not an intent issue where people don’t want to play team ball, being able to pass, being patient on possessions, taking what the defense gives, we didn’t have any of that in the first half.”

The Wildcats shot 8-of-23 from the field in the first half and tallied just three assists, and if not for their work on the defensive end the Wildcats would have been down a lot more than five (28-23) at the break.

Nick Johnson led four starters in double figures with 15 points and his work defensively against C.J. Wilcox (11 points, 4-of-16 FG) has to be noted, and overall Arizona’s defensive performance is a positive that can be taken from their first win at Washington in six years.

But for this group the ultimate goal isn’t a win in late January, regardless of how long Arizona had gone without a win in Seattle. And with that in mind the Wildcats need to remedy their issues when it comes to turnovers and slow starts.

“No question, for us to do special things and continue to win, playing the 12 or few [turnovers] is our goal and we have to be more consistent in that area,” said Miller. “And I think our offense needs to develop.”

Quotes courtesy of University of Washington

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

New challenges for Tennessee’s Barnes after years in Texas

Rick Barnes
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee coach Rick Barnes’ new surroundings have the veteran coach adopting a slightly different approach in preseason practices.

Barnes has needed to do more teaching so far as he goes over the different drills that had become second nature to his players at Texas, where he had coached for the last 17 seasons. Tennessee started practice last week as the Volunteers adjust to their third coach in as many seasons.

“We’d been 17 years where we had certain core basic drills that we knew, the players knew (and) we just called them out,” Barnes said Tuesday. “Now we’re teaching them everything that we want to implement and put in. It’s fun.”

Tennessee wants Barnes to provide the stability that’s been missing from its program with all the coaching turnover. Barnes replaced Donnie Tyndall, who went 16-16 in his lone season at Tennessee before being fired in March as the NCAA investigated his two-year tenure at Southern Mississippi.

Senior guard Kevin Punter acknowledged the coaching change was rough and that he thought about leaving, but Barnes’ arrival made him stay put.

“I’ve been watching Coach when he was coaching KD (Kevin Durant) and all those pros he got,” Punter said. “For him to be here, I already knew his background, and all I probably needed was just to talk to him and that pretty much sealed the deal. I already knew what he does for a lot of his players.”

Barnes went 402-180 at Texas and reached the NCAA Tournament in 16 of his 17 years before getting fired in March. His teams have earned NCAA bids 19 of the last 20 seasons overall.

“We’re not going to shy away from saying what we want,” Barnes said. “We want to be part of that tournament and have a chance like anybody else to play for the whole thing.”

Barnes could have a tough time getting back to the tournament this year.

Tennessee must replace all-SEC guard Josh Richardson, who led the Vols in points, assists and steals as a senior last season. Freshman Lamonte Turner has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the 2015-16 season, leaving Tennessee without any pure point guards as it gets ready for its Nov. 13 opener with UNC Asheville.

Barnes said Punter and senior Armani Moore would get the initial opportunities to play point guard. Punter’s a natural shooting guard. Moore is listed as a forward but can play a variety of positions.

Another challenge for Barnes involves getting accustomed to his new players and figuring out how to get the best from each of them.

“What’s their starter button?” Barnes asked. “You can’t coach them all the same. You can demand the same from all of them, but you can’t coach them all the same. Some guys can take whatever. Some other guys are a little more sensitive. It’s important for our coaching staff that we do know how to handle each one of them.”

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.