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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona basketball switches practice routine to stay fresh

Arizona+basketball+switches+practice+routine+to+stay+fresh

All Arizona men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller wants his players to talk about is practice.

The Wildcats are in the home stretch of the regular season, which means Miller is making adjustments just to keep the UA’s NCAA Tournament hopes alive. It starts with the way the Wildcats go about practices.

Down to just a seven-man rotation, Miller has changed the way the Wildcats are working through the end of the season. Miller said Arizona “has never had a big picture,” so he’s giving players more time off and focusing on the individual day, rather than looking ahead to the games. With the Los Angeles schools headed to Tucson this weekend, Miller chose to alter the Wildcats’ normal weekly routine. Although the team lifted weights on Sunday, Arizona did not meet in any capacity on Monday.

“We did not get together at all yesterday which is different,” Miller said. “That’s how we modified it, which is significant when you replace a practice day with a (day) completely off.”

After the Wildcats’ loss at Washington on Saturday, Miller told the Arizona Daily Star that he thought the team has been having a problem more with fatigue than with effort level. Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry all average more than 30 minutes per game. Fogg and Hill played nearly the entire game against Washington State, both logging 39 minutes. The same trend was evident against Washington on Saturday when they logged 35 and 36 minutes, respectively.

That, in addition to the quick turnaround and travel time between the two schools, was a contributing factor to Arizona’s lack of defense — something Miller said showed last weekend.

“One of the things I think we’re dealing with right now is the reality of playing seven players,” Miller told the Daily Star. “At first you can get some additional chemistry and you can experience good play, but one week becomes two, two weeks become three …”

Arizona’s roster has been crippled due to injury after losing forward Kevin Parrom to a broken foot on Jan. 28 and guard Jordin Mayes to a stress reaction in his foot on Feb. 2. Mayes has the potential to return this weekend, but Miller said it was much more likely that the sophomore would be ready to go against ASU on March 4.

In addition to days off to rest the regular players, Miller is also calling on the rest of the team to provide some relief in practice.

“With so many players down, we’ve asked Alex (Jacobson), we’ve asked Dondre (Wise), Max (Wiepking), a lot of the guys on our scout team to practice harder and longer,” Miller said. “And it’s important that they can do that.”

Miller said he has been using the scout team and reserve players much more in practice to cut down on fatigue with just two weeks before the Pac-12 Conference tournament in Los Angeles.

For now, the Wildcats have a favorable schedule, finishing out the regular season with two games at home and the final game against a weak ASU squad. Arizona has some things going for it — momentum of the final stretch, the possibility of getting Mayes back soon and senior day against UCLA on Saturday.

All of these could boost the Wildcats and help Arizona fight through its remaining schedule, but Miller has Arizona taking the last two weeks of the regular season one day — and one practice — at a time.

“It’s our last home game as seniors for our college career,” senior guard Brendon Lavender said. “At the same time, to be successful this weekend, we have to focus on today’s practice and tomorrow’s practice.”

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