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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“In his exhibition game debut, Miller wants to improve defense”

Colin Darland  / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona Wildcats kicked off the 2009-2010 Mens Basketball Season at McKale Memorial Center November 1st, 2009 with the annual Red/Blue game.
Colin Darland
Colin Darland / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona Wildcats kicked off the 2009-2010 Men’s Basketball Season at McKale Memorial Center November 1st, 2009 with the annual Red/Blue game.

The end of the Wildcat-on-Wildcat carnage has arrived.

“”To be honest with you, it’s tough playing against the same guys for three months,”” forward Jamelle Horne said. “”Seeing fresh faces on the opposing team, you kind of just want to eat them, so we’ll be excited Wednesday to see a bunch of new guys.””

Arizona men’s basketball will finally face another team, taking on Augustana College in an exhibition game tonight at 7 in McKale Center.

In a press conference yesterday, head coach Sean Miller said he is looking forward to the team’s first game-like experience at McKale.

“”The reason you play exhibition games are to improve your team,”” Miller said. “”Win or lose, your record is zero and zero.

“”In particular, one of the things we’ve not gone through as a team, as a program under my direction, is what it’s like on game day. What is shoot-around like? What is (the) pre-game meal, the environment like? How long before tipoff?

“”There’s going to be a lot of getting used to.””

And of course, it’s nice to play against another team.

Miller said that in practice, it’s hard to tell if the results are due to sound defense versus inept offense or solid offense versus subpar defense.

“”It’s been a long time coming,”” Miller said. “”It’ll be nice to see our guys under that light.””

Point guard Nic Wise’s status is still questionable as he recovers from a mildly sprained ankle, but Miller said he was hopeful the senior would be able to play.

Taking an optimistic approach, Miller said losing Wise has provided the opportunity to give more experience to other players, allowing them the time to make more mistakes and thus learn more. That, Miller said, has given the coaches more to criticize and the players more to learn.

Other than Wise, though, the head coach insinuated that nothing definitive will come from the Wildcats’ first showing as far as lineups go. Only Wise, assuming he can play, and Horne will be locks for the starting lineup, and the starting lineup in tonight’s game won’t hint at who will start come the Wildcats’ official season opener against NAU on Nov. 15.

“”The five that I put out there (tonight) is going to be really inconsequential to what will happen in two weeks,”” Miller said. “”Just because you start against Augustana College doesn’t mean that you’re going to start against Northern Arizona. I think that starting five will have a lot more merit to it.””

Once Miller does decide on a starting lineup, his main concern will be teaching his defensive philosophy to whoever takes the court.

The main point going into tonight’s game — and after about 15 practices this season — will be the team’s defensive cohesiveness. Miller said that after reviewing game film of Sunday’s Red-Blue game, the team’s defense, most notably the defense of the five freshmen, was “”fairly alarming.””

That team defense will be the main focus the Arizona coaches will impress upon the players. But it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, considering the team is still 13-strong in making a transition to a new coaching style and new system.

“”We’re putting the emphasis on defense,”” Miller said. “”We all wish we were a little bit further along with our defense, so instead of complaining about it, for us it’s a matter of emphasizing it, teaching it, really making our practices that much more defensive oriented.””

In fact, Miller wouldn’t even admit any of his veterans were where he’d like them to be on defense. He said Horne and guard Kyle Fogg were both putting forth the effort to be the defensive “”anchors”” at this point in the season, but their consistency has room for improvement.

“”Really what we’re pointing to here, is improvement in the next two weeks,”” Miller said. “”I hope we can look back at the Blue-Red game and chuckle and say, ‘Boy, look at what we did defensively at the Blue-Red game compared to now.'””

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