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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona who?

Arizona who?

Sean Miller made it a point to acknowledge that two national media members he’d spoken with since Saturday’s game didn’t know who Miller’s Arizona team played nor the final outcome of the game.

The answer to those questions would be California and a 107-105 win in three overtimes.

Through an era of rising national parity and a downturn in the Pacific 10 Conference — or at least what Miller would call the perception of it — the Arizona Wildcats don’t believe they’ve been acknowledged for their 20-4 and 9-2, in-league, records entering the homestretch of the regular season.

“”In terms of national attention,”” Miller said, “”I don’t think we get any. Every conference in the country gets more than us.

“”There’s just so many good players,”” he added, reciting a list of the Pac-10’s best. “”I think our conference is looking at the number of teams that can make the tournament is under-appreciated nationally.””

Despite what those within the conference believe to be an uptick in the Pac-10 talent-wise, the No. 15 Wildcats aren’t anything more than a scrolling name across the ESPN ticker to those outside the program, Miller said. However, the head coach noted that the ranking does indeed draw pride from within the Wildcat fans and alumni.

Outside of that circle, he said winning eight of the past nine games hasn’t drawn any increased national media attention. The reasoning?

Forward Derrick Williams said this perception is a combination of the speculation that the Wildcats are a one-man show — i.e. Williams himself — and playing a schedule barren of a shoo-in NCAA Tournament-worthy win.

“”Most people are hating on us a lot, saying we haven’t played anybody and stuff like that,”” Williams said. “”But, you know, you can’t really look at that too much. You’ve got to keep playing and earn their respect.””

And not riding too high on their horses is Arizona’s goal moving forward, especially as they face a reeling ASU team Sunday that’s 1-9 in conference. It’s a dangerous context, point guard Momo Jones said, especially in a rivalry game.

“”Top 15 in the country … there’s no way for people to get around not knowing you’re one of the best teams in the country,”” Jones said. “”That’s not our problem, what the critics say.

“”What we just got to do is continue to play, and try to move up in the rankings and try to stay No. 1 in the Pac-10,”” he added. “”If people don’t respect that, then people don’t respect that.””

As for Arizona’s success sitting heavily atop Williams’ shoulders, Saturday’s triple-overtime win came with Williams on the bench for the extra 15 minutes. That, he said, should be enough to disprove the theory saying the forward is carrying an overachieving squad.

“”I don’t look at it as a one-man team as a lot of people would say,”” Williams said. “”I don’t look at it like that, because if it was a one-man team we would’ve lost on Saturday. Momo did a great job in that game; it was a team effort.

“”That proved it right there, that we are a team.””

Left, right, left

Williams will continue to wear a wrap around his right shooting hand, protecting his pinky finger that was bent all the way backward a few games ago.

As NBA scouts look at him, he believes the injury might have helped the perception of being soft. But mostly, it’s given him an opportunity to show he can be productive with an injury to his shooting hand.

Williams only scored 12 points Saturday because he said he was standing in the corners and drawing his defender, in what was almost a box-and-one defense, out of the lane. He didn’t need to score to help offensively, and meanwhile grabbed 18 rebounds before fouling out.

And those 12 points showed he’s not completely reliant on his dominant hand.

“”Most people don’t think I have a left hand,”” Williams said. “”Actually, I feel way more comfortable with my left hand than my right hand. Other than shooting the ball, I like dribbling with my left. I like my left better than my right.””

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