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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Decaffeinating Seattle’s Best

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona meets Washington University in an NCAA mens basketball game at McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 10, 2010. Arizona up 37-27 at the half.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets Washington University in an NCAA men’s basketball game at McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 10, 2010. Arizona up 37-27 at the half.

To avoid coming out flat, the Arizona men’s basketball team may need to grab a cup of joe before its tip-off against a home-loving Husky squad.

Getting that energy rush will be easy in Seattle, where the Wildcats (12-9, 6-3 Pacific 10 Conference) take on the University of Washington (14-7, 4-5) tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

“”They have such an attacking style that I think it feeds their home crowd, and I think their home crowd can really feed that way of playing,”” said UA head coach Sean Miller. “”We know it’s going to be a challenge.””

Miller’s crew will face a rowdy UW crowd looking to put out the Wildcats’ current four-game winning streak, but Miller hasn’t budged from his year-long stance: Take each practice and each day one at a time.

Through a rough non-conference schedule that took Arizona on the road for five of its first 10 games, the Wildcats have gradually improved.

“”I think our team has gone through enough ups and downs and recognized how hard it is to win,”” Miller said. “”I think out of the 20 games we’ve played roughly 15 have come down to the final moments. It’s that experience that should keep you grounded or humbled.””

Praise went to senior point guard Nic Wise, who not only led the Wildcats to several last-minute wins but has been what Miller called the “”quiet leader”” to the younger Wildcats.

Averaging 16 points and 3.8 assists, it’s more than statistics that show Wise’s value.

Miller said his players have changed the most in the way they go about practice, and his lone senior’s preparation has helped Arizona’s young team grow up fast.

“”Someone like Nic Wise will really be ready for practice, to lead in practice … that’s something that’s important,”” Miller said. “”That’s something that as a group we have all got better at. It’s started to lead into games.””

Now hitting the second half of the Pac-10’s round-robin schedule, the improving Wildcats find themselves facing a Washington team they beat 87-70 in Tucson earlier this year. UA held Seattle’s best scorers, Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas, in check, as neither scored a point in the first half.

But it won’t be any easier with the Huskies looking for revenge at home.

“”We don’t walk in the gym and overwhelm anybody,”” Miller said. “”I think this weekend is going to be another reminder for our team how hard it is to win on the road, playing against really hungry and talented team in Washington.””

The Huskies will implement a similar style to Arizona’s defense-first, fast-break-buckets-second mentality. UW head coach Lorenzo Romar said his team has dug itself a hole, sometimes failing to come out with the energy to create turnovers and get into transition.

Whether Arizona can quiet the Huskies’ home crowd and whether Washington can come out on an energetic high, as it has at home, will be factors for both teams. But Miller still seeks improvement, win or lose.

“”I think just staying true to what’s made us become a better team remains the name of the game for this team,”” he said. “”That is … that we’re still hungry, that we know on any given night every team in our conference can beat us.

“”If we stay that course,”” Miller said, “”that’s the best chance for us to have the most wins. Whatever that total is, I know this: We can all rest easy that we’ve improved a lot and we’ve come a long way since November.””

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