Arizona basketball: Ryan Luther recovering from hand injury
If Ryan Luther is going to be the stretch four that the Arizona Wildcats need, then he needs to shoot.
He didn't do much of that last week in the Maui Invitational, with a combined five shots -- two from 3-point range -- in losses to highly ranked Gonzaga and Auburn. Luther, a graduate transfer from Pittsburgh, didn't much look for his shot, and neither did the coaching staff design much in the way of getting him looks off pick-and-pops or in the corner off penetration.
Now we know why.
Arizona coach Sean Miller said Tuesday that Luther sustained an injury to his non-shooting hand in the opening game of the tournament, a win over Iowa State.
"We're fortunate he had the toughness and resolve to play in the next two games, which he did. He wasn't 100 percent," Miller said.
"I think he will return back to form this week ... next week as he's dealing with it. That certainly affected his aggressiveness and rightfully so. The fact that he played is a testament to his unselfishness, the type of kid he is. But he wasn't at his best in game 2 and game 3 in Maui."
Luther was 0-for-2 against Gonzaga, missing his only 3-point try, although he did grab eight rebounds. He followed with an 0-for-3 shooting performance against Auburn. He went scoreless in 52 combined minutes.
Miller said the coaches took a lot of lessons from last week's tournament, when the Wildcats found offense hard to come by beyond guards Justin Coleman, Brandon Randolph and Brandon Williams, and center Chase Jeter.
Those four combined for 108 points. The rest of the team had 13.
The Wildcats need more of what Luther provided against Iowa State -- 12 points and eight rebounds. He has the ability to be a complementary scorer. Last season at Pitt, he scored 10 against Oklahoma State and 13 vs. West Virginia before being shut down after 10 games because of a foot injury.
Miller said the whole offense is a learning process right now.
"The challenge for us a coaching staff is to get the very best out of all of our players," Miller said.
"I find the challenge is on offense. Here, we have so many new faces, it almost takes a month of this year to really understand what works and what doesn't, what we can do to better suit each of these guys individually on offense.
"I wish I had it right from day one, but some of our errors in Maui were just (needing to be) more organized, more detailed, putting someone like Ryan Luther in position to call his number and make sure we get a balance of throwing him the ball around the basket more.
"He's not someone how is going to take it upon himself to do that. He's going to have to do it with our help. That is one of the things we learned in Maui."