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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Building a winner

Kyle+Fogg
Kyle Fogg

After wading through two coaching regimes in his three-year career, Kyle Fogg can finally say he’s witnessing cultural growth in the Arizona basketball program this season.

Success might be evident for the Wildcats because of their impressive No. 12 ranking and record of 21-4 (10-2 in the Pacific 10 Conference), but there are several signs that show a glimmer of Arizona’s potential return to rank among elite.

What about the junior guard makes him an example of head coach Sean Miller’s

effectiveness? Look no further than how Fogg feels about his role and overall attitude.

“”(I’m) more about getting the win than about how I’m playing,”” he said. “”It feels so good to win. Guarding the other team’s best player is really becoming a satisfying role for me. I just love to do that every night.””

Through rough patches last season, Fogg was lit up by hot shooting two-guards on a fairly regular basis. It was hard for the junior then, just as it was hard for Arizona as a whole, to think “”team first, me second.””

And in a broader context, the entire roster has developed in the same way.

Each man has embraced his own role — Fogg’s defensive mentality, for example — but at the same time, each player knowingly relies on his teammates. At yesterday’s press conference, Fogg wouldn’t mention his great defensive performance against Washington State’s Klay Thompson earlier this season without crediting his fellow Wildcats’ help on defense.

That token of appreciation might come because Miller reaches his players.

“”He gets his point across,”” said forward Solomon Hill. “”He really emphasizes on the defensive end helping, not letting people go one-on-one. He really emphasizes your team.””

“”It’s really just staying together,”” he added. “”It might not be your night one night, but as long as you get the ‘W,’ that’s all that matters.””

When the players’ box scores didn’t look pretty last season, loving to win was easier said than done.

Nowadays, the players have taken their coach’s advice: one game at a time.

It’s an easy-to-say concept, but Miller won’t stray from pounding it into his players’ heads daily. With only six conference games to play, four of which are at home, he’s sticking with the attitude that his No. 12 squad can lose on any given night.

“”Motivation really takes care of itself,”” he said. “”There’s really not an opponent that has more to play for than you. You’re not getting any more credit for any one of the six (remaining games). You have to be on it everyday.””

Despite the Wildcats’ 13-0 home record this season, their toughest home series of the season begins Thursday. They face the Washington schools, which are both capable of toppling Arizona, even on a good night.

But with guarded optimism, Wildcat players don’t expect they’ll lose a game.

“”Who knows? Sitting here right now, I think we should have less losses to tell you the truth,”” Hill said.

“”From our experience last year, the main thing is taking it one game at a time,”” he added. “”You never know what can happen any game. You can look at the end result when you’re done.””

    

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