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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats prepare for main course

Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona mens basketball team hosted Northern Colorado in a college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010, in McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats rolled to a 93-70 victory.
Mike Christy
Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona men’s basketball team hosted Northern Colorado in a college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010, in McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. The Wildcats rolled to a 93-70 victory.

If the Arizona men’s basketball team was a high-end restaurant, Sean Miller would be the master chef brought in to clean up the mess left by the last cook.

A year has passed, and the kitchen is just about spotless. In the first three games, Miller has stimulated everyone’s appetite with three quality appetizers, but now everyone is ready for the main course — Kansas.

But before the entree is served, there is yet another appetizer as Bethune-Cookman visits McKale Center tonight at 6:30.

The Wildcats have their first 3-0 start since the 2002-03 season and have been cooking up blow-outs, winning by an average of 32 points.

Thus far, Arizona’s bench and Derrick Williams have been the most consistent pieces to the team, but Miller recognizes it’s still early in the season.

“”We’ve done a good job up until this point,”” Miller said after Sunday’s 93-70 win over Northern Colorado. “”I know there are much more challenges ahead, but I’m anxious to see our progression moving toward those challenges.””

Though the challenges will come, Miller is happy to have cutlery that didn’t exist last season. This season, Miller has quality shooters in Brendon Lavender and Jordin Mayes coming off the bench.

Junior college transfer Jesse Perry has been a relentless offensive rebounder, along with a confident Kyryl Natyazhko and ever-so physical Kevin Parrom to complete the second unit.

“”That’s really the identity of this year’s team. We’re going to do it by numbers,”” Miller said. “”We got to do it with a lot of unselfishness and a lot of moving parts.””

In the last two games, Miller has substituted his entire starting line-up at the 15-minute mark in the first half, which has reduced the minutes of all his players. It’s allowed the Wildcats to play all-out defense without worrying about conserving energy, which has, in turn, resulted in blow-out victories.

“”When you’re not playing for long lengths of time, you can really give great effort,”” Miller said. “”We’re trying to get that intensity throughout the whole game by playing a number of guys.””

“”We’re going to have a team of three or four guys coming in that don’t start the game but are going to play a lot,”” he added. “”That’s what’s going to make Arizona the best this year.””

Though the bench has been the secret ingredient, the main factor for Arizona’s hot start has been Williams.

Williams has averaged a team leading 19 points and nine rebounds while shooting 80 percent from the field and scoring the majority of his points on dunks and lay-ups. Williams knows that teams will begin to adjust to his play, which means he will have to find his teammates.

“”I’m going to be surprised if teams start trapping me like UCLA did in the Pac-10 tournament,”” Williams said. “”If I do get trapped, I’m going to have to learn to pass the ball to the open man.””

Though Williams admitted after Sunday’s game that the team is looking forward to Kansas, he said Bethune-Cookman will not be overlooked tonight.

“”We have a good game coming up (tonight),”” Williams. “”We’re taking one game at a time. Coach told us they were ranked preseason No. 2 in their conference, so it’s another good team.””

Though the Wildcats have been impressive against inferior opponents, not everyone has been enamored with the early-season dominance of the Wildcats. McKale Center has been scattered with empty seats, more notably the student section.

When Miller was asked if he could figure out why attendance has been so low, he said, “”I can only show up and coach the team and hope that it gets better.””

But he did suggest how attendance could improve.

“”I know people like to see good teams,”” he said. “”Hopefully, we’ll become one.””

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