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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Family Weekend: Arizona men’s basketball preaches family

The+Arizona+mens+basketball+team+poses+for+its+2014-15+team+photo+in+McKale+Center+on+Oct.+3.+Both+players+and+coaches+are+preaching+family+and+cohesiveness+as+the+2013-14+season+opener+looms.
Rebecca Marie Sasnett

The Arizona men’s basketball team poses for its 2014-15 team photo in McKale Center on Oct. 3. Both players and coaches are preaching family and cohesiveness as the 2013-14 season opener looms.

When Arizona men’s basketball players take off their uniforms and shoes after every practice and game, they still see each other as a team, even off the court. Players from around the country continuously want to play for Arizona due to its motto: A Player’s Program.

“We preach, ‘Together, everyone achieves more,’” UA sophomore forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said. “That’s the whole goal and meaning of team. Before we can come out and dribble a basketball together, we have to become a family and communicate and be able to go through tough situations together before everything runs smoothly.”

On the court over the past few seasons, the Wildcats have played strong and have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-12 Conference. This season, Arizona is hoping to finally reach its first Final Four appearance under head coach Sean Miller and force its way to the top through players’ devotion to each other.

With new recruits coming in left and right, the team continues to build a family environment that includes togetherness, even with frequent additions and departures.

After the loss of high-profile players Nick Johnson and Aaron Gordon, the Wildcats don’t have to search far to find the next player to step up, because the 2014-2015 players have already built strong relationships over the summer.

New to the team this season are redshirt senior forward Ryan Anderson, junior guard Kadeem Allen, freshman center Dusan Ristic, freshman forward Craig Victor and freshman guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright.

“It’s way more than just going to practice and lifting weights,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “I think to be a great team, you have to bond on another type of level other than your sport. We’ve done that and it’s worked well for us before.”

During games, five players have to work together as one cohesive unit. With high team chemistry, Miller is able to make substitutions and spark matchups with opponents due to the team trusting each other and being on the same level. 

Starting last season, Johnson made the decision to live in a duplex home with six other teammates, including current players junior center Kaleb Tarczewski, senior guard T.J. McConnell, junior forward Brandon Ashley and junior guard Gabe York.

Being around each other constantly helped the team go 33-5 last season, including being one bucket away from the Final Four.

Many of the current Arizona players have continued the tradition started by Johnson to ensure their chemistry on the court remains at a high level.

Winning is a part of the culture of the Arizona men’s basketball program, but it can’t happen unless the players are working as a family.

“It’s hard to have team success if you don’t have a family mentality set in place,” UA senior forward Matt Korcheck said. “You just really have to love each other like brothers.”

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Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.

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