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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Mapping the road

Roxana Vasquez / Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA Mens Basketball vs. Oregon State
Roxana Vasquez
Roxana Vasquez / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Men’s Basketball vs. Oregon State

Head coach Sean Miller has yet to get off-track this season. Arizona’s strong wins haven’t been overhyped nor have its most disappointing losses been overwhelming.

“”The theme is to continue our improvement,”” Miller said. “”We want to continue to be that team that grows and gets better.””

The Wildcats (8-9, 2-3 Pacific 10 Conference) will be in Eugene, Ore., tomorrow for a duel with the Oregon Ducks (10-6, 2-2) at McArthur Court, hoping to once again win the second game of a weekend series after losing to the Oregon State Beavers 67-64 last night.

“”In the Pac-10 you’re really at the mercy of the schedule,”” Miller said before the road trip. “”We invested a great deal last week, without school, leading into the Washington State game and having a quick turnaround for Washington, you took (a day) off.””

Settling into the conference schedule, Miller has become wary of overworking his players in practices, keying in on keeping them healthy and staving off fatigue.

And that will give Arizona a fighting chance,assuming they improve on their execution. Patience, Miller said, is important to keep his young team from unraveling.

“”Being on the road in and of itself, you want your team to be patient,”” he said. “”You want your team to move the defense and take great shots.””

“”Some of our worst performances this year, some of it can be attributed to quick shots at the beginning of the game.””

Against the Ducks, Miller’s offense will try to demonstrate that patience against a familiar face — Oregon’s associate head coach Mike Dunlap, the defensive guru who sat on the Arizona bench last year behind interim head coach Russ Pennell after Dunlap refused to become the interim leader.

Dunlap has helped the team in many ways, Oregon head coach Ernie Kent said, and his defensive knowledge has helped Oregon reach an 8.5 positive point differential while holding opponents to under 44 percent shooting from the field.

Likewise the Ducks average more blocks, steals and rebounds than their opponents on the year.

On the offensive side of the ball, Oregon is led by a strong backcourt. Gritty 5-foot-6 point guard Tajuan Porter leads the team with a 14.1 scoring average and minutes leader, sophomore Malcolm Armstead, averages 4.5 assists per contest going into last nights games.

Beginning on Dec. 16, the Ducks went on a six-game winning streak. Then the Ducks fell at home to the Oregon State Beavers for the first time in 16 years.

“”I don’t know if we took them lightly,”” said Kent. “”I think the layoff hurt us. I think watching them (lose by 51 points to Seattle University) hurt us.””

They didn’t get back on the winning track against ASU after losing 76-57 last night. Coming into the contest against the Wildcats, the Ducks could be starving for a win.  But that depends on if the Ducks show up — such uncertainty is common in the Pac-10 this season.

“”The conference has gotten better since the preseason,”” Kent said, “”but all that means is it’s going to be more up and down depending on who’s ready to play on what night.””


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