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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats’ frustrations grow

Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Alan Walsh
Alan Walsh / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Freshman guard Momo Jones spoke in a slow, methodical manner as he addressed the media on Tuesday. The disappointment from Sunday’s loss to Arizona State still lingered two days later.

“”Everybody’s disappointed, everybody’s kind of down,”” Jones said. “”Everybody’s just trying to figure out ways we can pick everything back up.””

Though players and head coach Sean Miller have insisted all season that the NCAA tournament streak hasn’t been on their mind, they were certainly thinking about it Tuesday, as they now have to win the Pacific 10 Conference Tournament to have any chance at making the NCAA Tournament.

“”We just owe it to the fans. It hasn’t changed for 25 years,”” said freshman forward Derrick Williams. “”I don’t think it should end right now just because we have new coaches, new players and we’re a young team.

“”I don’t think we should go out like that,”” he added. “”Especially with this being Nic (Wise)’s last year.””

Formerly tied for first place after beating California on Jan. 31, the tide has turned for Arizona over the last couple weeks as it lost four of its last five games. The Wildcats appear to be heading downhill toward the end of the season instead of peaking as Miller anticipated.

“”We lost a couple tough ones in a row,”” Miller said. “”Everyone’s trying to figure out what went wrong and why’s it’s been like that since the Cal game.””

Miller appeared equally as frustrated at his players but didn’t care to discuss the mood of his team or whether the team appeared to have given up the last couple days.

“”Let me say this: In terms of giving up and mood, I could care less about their mood,”” Miller said.

“”There are certain things when you’re the new head coach in Arizona that you can deal with in year one, and in our current circumstances in the next four weeks,”” he added. “”Then there are some things you can deal with in a bigger way in the offseason and beyond.””

Miller didn’t elaborate what could be dealt with in a “”bigger way”” during the offseason, but it is clear that some players aren’t “”buying in”” the way the first-year coach wants.

“”You watch certain guys struggle defensively,”” Miller said. “”I really think certain guys are trying, and I’m not going down that path of who they are or whatever.

“”It is what it is,”” he added. “”We have to do the best we can and keep working like crazy. Certain things we can control and other things we can’t.””

But Miller did hint that things would have to be evaluated.

“”The bigger picture is where we go from here,”” he said. “”How much more talented can we become, is everybody a part of our program that really loves to win and is here for all the right reasons, and do we have things moving in the right direction?””

Miller also reiterated that the team’s struggles this season have been like nothing he has ever dealt with before in all his years of coaching.

“”It’s really hard. It’s at times almost impossible to deal with because there some many things you can’t control,”” Miller said. “”The broader picture is, I know I came here not just for the 2009-2010 season. I came here trying to build, grow and improve and take our program to those great heights we all know Arizona can be because they’ve done it before.””

Despite his disappointment, the first-year coach found room to joke about the season’s struggles. Asked if there was anyone in the coaching world he turned to for advice, Miller said he didn’t.

“”I’m that guy when you see my name come up on the phone you’re like, ‘Not him. Boop. Ignore.’ Nobody wants to talk to me,”” he joked. “”I’m not going to give them anything, they always have to help me. Most of my friends are winning a lot so I don’t want to interfere with them.””

NIT talks begin

Now that an NCAA appearance seems unlikely, the questions about the National Invitational Tournament have began for a program seemingly immune to any postseason tournament besides the NCAA Tournament.

When Jones and Williams were asked whether the team would be OK with going to the NIT, both answered simultaneously “”No”” and “”No, sir.””

“”I think it (NIT) benefits us as team going into next year, but at the end of the day, that’s not what we came here to do,”” Jones said. “”Nobody looks forward to going to the (NIT), but you go there you have to make the best of it. We can’t downplay the (NIT) but at the same time we want to make the tournament.””

Miller wasn’t opposed to the NIT, but he was unwilling to accept the lesser of the college basketball tournaments, the College Basketball Invitational

“”I would be very interested in the (NIT),”” Miller said. “”It would be an honor for our team to make it, but (College Basketball Invitational), no. It’s more important for us to start lifting weights.””

Parrom incident to be dealt with in house

Forward Kevin Parrom was sent to the locker room by Miller following the buzzer of Sunday’s game after getting into a brief altercation with ASU guard Derek Glasser.

Miller said the team would deal with the ordeal “”in house,”” adding that frustration took over the freshman’s emotions.

While he didn’t say whether Parrom would be punished by suspension or loss of a starting spot, he did say that the forward is “”one of the nicest kids”” he has ever met.

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