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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Miller, Wildcats want to get defensive”

Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona meets UNLV in an NCAA mens basketball team at McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz., Dec. 2, 2009. Arizona lost in 2OT 72-74.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets UNLV in an NCAA men’s basketball team at McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz., Dec. 2, 2009. Arizona lost in 2OT 72-74.

At one point in Sean Miller’s routine press conference yesterday, he answered “”no”” to four straight pressing questions about what his Wildcats face.

It’s what Miller calls the reality surrounding his team (3-4) preparing to go against an underrated Louisiana Tech team tonight at 9 p.m. in McKale Center.

Here were the questions:

• You talked about Kyle Fogg taking the role as a defensive stopper. Has he shown any progress?

“”No.””

• Anyone?

“”Nope. Nope. We have to get better in that area.””

• Who would you consider your top couple defenders?

“”We don’t really have that right now … For me to say anything, I would just be absolutely lying to you.””

• Will you make any adjustments to guard Louisiana Tech’s stud guard Kyle Gibson?

“”No. Just working to play defense like we know how … I want to instill those things right now.””

• During games, in timeouts when you’re trying to coach these young players, do you see them absorbing what you’re saying?

“”No. Sometimes that’s a problem for us. And it’s one of the many problems. Before we left for Oklahoma, two young players didn’t get tape because the practice before we left they thought it was just a shoot-around. For the life of me, I didn’t even think to say ‘practice means practice.'””

Miller, coming off a blowout 79-62 loss to Oklahoma, in which he called his team’s effort “”tentative,”” is looking for a defensive edge in a team storyline quite similar to his inaugural season at Xavier.

In 2004, his first year as Xavier head coach, Miller inherited an Elite Eight team after Thad Matta took the Ohio State job. Two players went to the NBA Draft and three graduated, leaving an extremely young team, like the one in Tucson today.

Arizona, coming off a Sweet 16 appearance and losing Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill to the NBA, graduated two players and lost wing Zane Johnson after he transferred. The current Arizona team, having embraced its fourth coach in as many years, now adjusts to another regime: How they scout, how they practice, pregame meals, a man-to-man defense.

“”It’s going to take time,”” Miller said. “”In certain cases, it’s going to take a little longer than we would like.””

While players weren’t available to the media yesterday, some needed to vent their mounting frustrations in 140 characters or less on Twitter:

Wrote Nic Wise: “”Disappointment. Embarrassment. Frustration. Couldn’t win on the road last year with 2 pros. Even tougher this year with a young team.””

Wrote Kyryl Natyazhko: “”Trip to oklahoma was terrible we lost a game and I lost my keys and headphones.””

Just how frustrating?

“”It’s certainly a challenge right now,”” Miller said. “”One of the things I hope as a staff we can instill in this group, just an incredible competitiveness. We don’t have that right now.””

Player to watch:

Kyle Gibson, Louisiana Tech: The Wildcats have had difficulties defending opponents’ go-to perimeter players in all seven games.

Gibson has averaged 21 points per game already this season.

“”There’s some guys licking their chops when they play Arizona right now if they can score,”” Miller said.

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