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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Elite Eight notes: Arizona vs. UConn

Elite+Eight+notes%3A+Arizona+vs.+UConn

ANAHEIM, Calif. – They prey upon the weak.

When the Arizona Wildcats drew blood on the Duke Blue Devils in yesterday’s 93-77 route, it was Sean Miller’s club that began to pick at the wound. Their 10-man rotation began to wear down the Blue Devils, but making that rotation effective is easier said than done.

“”It is tough for a lot of us,”” said reserve Brendon Lavender, who scored two points off a critical steal and dunk in the second half. “”Everyone is capable. Everyone has great potential, but in order to win and to be a winner, you have to accept your role.

“”You’ll get recognition at the end.””

The team’s development came through various team meetings and, of course, through game experience over the course of the season. It’s a building block that doesn’t happen overnight.

Even for the starters, buying into Miller’s system required see-it-to-believe-it proof.

Against Duke, they saw it, believed it and made the Blue Devils pay. Even Duke senior Kyle Singler was visibly sucking wind. Freshman Kyrie Irving, who lost more than three months of the season to injury, scored 28, but his fatigue set in on the defensive end.

“”I feel great when I come out of the game and Kevin (Parrom) comes in for me,”” forward Solomon Hill said. “”I look at Kyle Singler, I’m like, ‘man, he’s been in there for 10 straight minutes, go wear him out on defense and we can get the stop.’

“”Everybody’s buying in,”” he added. “”You can say leave it out on there court and it’s March Madness, but that fatigue still kicks in, you can’t get rid of that.””

And that fatigue led to …

***

Doing what Washington did to them

Playing three games against the Washington Huskies during the regular season still gives the Wildcats extremely valuable experience going into the Elite Eight.

Hill said that looking at how Washington capitalized on the Wildcats’ mistakes has given Arizona itself a good model for how to turn an opponent turnover into an easy basket.

“”We watch a lot of film on ourselves,”” Hill said. “”Washington capitalized on our mental mistakes. Why can’t we do that? Why can’t, when somebody gets a bad shot, why can’t we push the ball and get a great shot?

“”We’re more careful with the ball. I think we’re moving the ball around more now. We’re getting a great shot. We’re limiting their chances to attack.””

And playing against UW’s Isaiah Thomas three times helps Arizona plan for Kemba Walker, who can similarly score at will. But just like Thomas, Walker has the innate knack for making his teammates better.

“”Kemba has been able to take his competitiveness, his intensity, and transmit it to other players,”” UConn head coach Jim Calhoun said.

So with a quick turnaround between games for the Wildcats, it becomes that much easier to know how to handle Walker.

“”You rely on your habits and your experience this season,”” UA head coach Sean Miller said. “”Playing against Washington … I think our guys really understand the focus and the energy that it takes to do the best job you can against a player like him.””

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