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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Miller, Sendek meet again”

Miller, Sendek meet again

Arizona head coach Sean Miller didn’t hold back his admiration for his old mentor, ASU head coach Herb Sendek, despite his Sun Devil connection.

As Arizona (9-9, 3-3 Pacific 10 Conference) gears up to face off against the Sun Devils, (14-5, 4-2 Pac-10) at Wells Fargo Arena Saturday at 7:30 p.m., the two coaches’ friendship won’t be broken even by an intense in-state rivalry.

Miller’s relationship with Sendek goes back to his time as Sendek’s assistant at North Carolina State from 1996-2001.

“”I respect Herb a great deal; he’s a really good person, and he’s a very good coach,”” Miller said of his one-time mentor and current rival. “”From my new vantage point, I really respect what he’s done with Arizona State’s program. He has his team playing together and with great effort.””

The Sun Devils come into the game against the Wildcats with the No. 1 scoring defense, allowing 54 points per game. Miller lauded the Sun Devil defense and envisions the Wildcat defense reaching that same level one day.

“”It’s a part of their identity as a team and as a program,”” Miller said. “”It’s really what we’re trying to build here — that daily approach of playing extremely hard where defense matters.””

Though Miller respects Sendek, as a first year head coach at Arizona inheriting a five-game losing streak against the Sun Devils, he understands that despite his respect for Sendek, he is expected to win against the rival coach.

“”I respect Herb, but that’s really where it ends,”” he said. “”My job at Arizona is to win, and when we’re playing Arizona State … our job is to be as prepared as we can.””

With a young team and five freshmen playing their first game against ASU on the road, it will be imperative for the Wildcats to control their emotions, which will naturally be high during a rival game.

“”Obviously, we must bring a lot of intensity to the game, but, at the same time, we must stay levelheaded and not let our emotions get the best of us,”” said guard Kyle Fogg. “”Although it’s this huge game, we have to go out there and stay calm.””

Fogg referred back to his first game against ASU a year ago, a game which he admitted he didn’t know the real significance of until he was on the court.

“”Last year, it didn’t sink in big time until we were there and going up against their fans,”” he said. “”This year, for me, it’s definitely a bigger deal, and I know what to expect and know how their fans are.””

Freshman standout Derrick Williams is in the same position that Fogg was in a year ago but has heard his teammates talk about it.

“”The fans are going to be crazy, that’s what Nic (Wise) and Jamelle (Horne) have told us freshmen,”” Williams said. “”I just expect the student section to be crazy, but we have to block that out and just play.””

Williams also knows that Wise, the only senior on the team, wants to win this game, his last at ASU, more than anyone else.

“”Nic’s been telling us that he’s like 2-5 against them and has lost the last five,”” he said. “”So I know he wants to come out and win two in a row against (ASU).””

The Wildcats will try to end the losing streak and set the tone for the rivalry during the Miller era.

“”Make no mistake about it. I want to win, and I want to have a team that’s prepared and hungry,”” he said. “”I recognize we have to have a really good game in order to win.””

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