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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Miller talks with honest expectations

Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Year two of the Sean Miller era doesn’t represent the starting point of his tenure. After all, there was no mulligan for his first season in Tucson.

But it’s the first consistent year, which gives Miller and his players reason to believe there’s nowhere to go but up after the Wildcats went 16-15 last year.

“”The experience from a year ago and the continuity that I think develops when you have the same things happening … you could really feel that,”” Miller said. “”That leads me into saying we’re at a much better place than a year ago.””

Sometimes, that continuity comes in the little things — efficiently switching between drills during practice was often difficult last season, when no player had yet to go through a Miller-coached practice.

“”The practices last year were so long … just because coach had to talk so much,”” said sophomore Kyryl Natyazhko. “”This year you can tell players know what they’re doing now.

“”Coach just calls a drill out, names the drill and we know what it is. Last year, we didn’t know what we were doing, who was doing right, who was doing wrong.””

Still, Miller wasn’t dodging questions of his expectations during yesterday’s team media day, even with some premature pre-season Pacific 10 Conference rankings having Arizona finishing as high as second in the league.

“”I hope we’re finishing second,”” Miller said. “”That’s the expectations here.

“”I’m certainly not attempting to trick anybody,”” he added. “”The starting point of (being successful) isn’t right around the corner. It was two Aprils ago.””

With an endless number of question marks surrounding his team, Miller said that he does have reason to believe his team will improve, his word of choice for what he’d like to see this year.

“”We want to be better,”” he said. “”We expect to be better. Be better by leaps and bounds? I don’t know if that’s going to be the case.””

Mayes plays

With sophomore Lamont “”Momo”” Jones’ hype as the shoo-in for the starting point guard slot after the departure of Nic Wise, the back-up point guard slot hasn’t been much to talk about. But Miller expects freshman Jordin Mayes, who is out of basketball powerhouse Westchester High School in Los Angeles, to give Jones a breather.

Mayes, whose father, Darryel Mayes, played at University of Nevada, Las Vegas under head coach Jerry Tarkanian, is considered a good change-up guard from Jones.

His specialty is his accurate jump shot, which Miller said is already one of the best shots on the team, but that won’t hamper him from running the point.

“”My junior year (in high school), I had to go to the wing because we had a little point guard,”” Mayes said, who moved to point guard during his senior year. “”I’ve always been a point guard.””

Miller also said that Mayes has a basketball player’s body, including a 6-foot-9 wingspan on his 6-foot-2 frame, which will come in handy on the defensive end.

Playing with Jones has already been an experience for Mayes’ adjustment to college basketball.

“”Just learning how to be vocal, learning how to compete at the highest level. Just going out there and playing hard.””

Future of the Pac

A fan of the Pac-10’s traditional round-robin basketball scheduling, Miller said he was excited about the direction of the soon-to-be Pac-12 and about commissioner Larry Scott.

“”I don’t think there has been a better time to be in our conference than now,”” Miller said. “”Being in meetings (with Scott), they’re about the right things in progressing our conference.

“”It’s really nice to be a part of something where the leadership is like it is.””

The addition of the television markets in Denver, Colo., and Salt Lake City, Utah, were other positives mentioned.

Miller added that he is good friends with Utah head coach Jim Boylen and Colorado head coach Tad Boyle.

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