Arizona Wildcat basketball fans have been eager for the start of the 2013-14 season because of the new faces joining the team.
Yes the great freshman class has a lot to do with it. But it is also the point guard transfer T.J. McConnell who is fresh off of sitting out a season after coming from Duquesne.
It was an important year for McConnell which has him more than ready to hit the ground running this season.
“I got to know coach Miller’s system which I knew would be a huge advantage this year,” said McConnell. “And just creating that chemistry with the guys on the court which will translate onto the court this year. The biggest thing I took was getting stronger up in the weight room and working on every aspect of my game. I think that was huge with that year off.”
“He practiced with us everyday last year so it’s great to have him a part already of what we so,” stated Sean Miller. “I think equally important is he has great familiarity with teammates and our system. He is not a new player, he is older by college basketball standards.”
Miller notes that his new point guard’s style of play brings something to the team that may have been missing over the past few years.
“His style of play is one I believe impacts the game both on defense and offense,” mentioned Miller. “One thing I believe we have had problems with over the years and T.J. can solve is his ability to defend.”
“I think distributing the ball and playing defense,” explained McConnell. “I give 110% on defense because I try to pride myself with that and I don’t care if I score. I am just trying to get people the ball.”
As ‘Point Guard U’ is about to write its newest chapter titled McConnell, T.J. notes the history of that position and is excited to etch his name as a member of this elite club.
“It’s an honor,” McConnell mentioned. “If I become half the player that all those great point guards were I’ll be happy. I am just trying to honor them by bringing a Pac-12 championship and a national championship back to Tucson.”
“Point guards, they have the ability to pressure a team both ways,” explained Miller. “When we have the ball by running our team and defensively by setting the standard and the tone. We know this because he practiced with us everyday that he is tenacious on defense, he has a gift in being able to steal the ball so I am as excited to what he can bring to the table on offense as I am on defense.”
Friday against Cal Poly will not be McConnell’s first regular season game played at the McKale Center. He did face the Wildcats in Tucson back on November 9th of 2011 and gave Arizona all they could handle. The Wildcats barely snuck past McConnell and the Dukes. He had nine points, six rebounds and four assists in a game Arizona won by just eight.
“When I played here the crowd was intimidating,” McConnell said. “Playing in front of these fans is an honor and we are going to try and make them proud this year.”
McConnell and the Wildcats kick off their much anticipated regular season Friday at 8pm from McKale Center.