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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Hoops gets a crack at first place

Hoops+gets+a++crack+at+first+place

It’s January and the next game for Arizona basketball will be for sole possession of the Pacific 10 Conference.

Arizona (15-3, 4-1 Pac-10) sits in second place with a chance to take the early first place lead with a win against preseason favorite Washington.

Now doesn’t that sound familiar?

Last season the Wildcats were in a similar position when California came to McKale Center in late January for a showdown for first place. Arizona won the game but followed it with a subpar showing in the second half of the conference schedule, resulting in the Wildcats missing out on postseason play for the first time in 25 seasons.

After being just 11-9 heading into that game last season, it’s safe to say that the Wildcats are sitting prettier record wise this season. But the rest of the nation isn’t ready to buy into Arizona as a potential Pac-10 champion. Despite being 15-3 and starting the season 8-1, the Wildcats broke into the rankings for the first time all season this week, checking in at No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

The uncertainty around the nation about the Wildcats is probably due to wins against teams like Idaho State, New Mexico State, Northern Colorado, Bethune-Cookman and Cal State Fullerton. The loss to Oregon State, a game in which Arizona was a favorite, didn’t help earning much respect.

As most around the nation aren’t sure as to whether Arizona is good enough to win the Pac-10 crown over Washington, head coach Sean Miller holds the same concerns.

“”We’re good enough to compete but I don’t know if we’re good enough to win it,”” Miller said regarding his team’s chances at winning the conference. “”We have to play the games, and part of us has to look at ourselves and say we’re not good enough today to do that. We have to continue to get better.””

Miller has been adamant all season that his team isn’t good enough to just show up and win any game, regardless of the opponent. He knows his team still needs work.

“”Every game from this point on is going to be a hard one,”” Miller said after an 80-69 win against ASU on Saturday. “”I like to say that at 15-3 as opposed to having a different record.””

Miller says that every game will be a challenge because he knows his team isn’t the most talented group. However, he also said he knows that there is no guaranteed win from top to bottom in the Pac-10, despite its reputation as one of the nation’s weaker conferences.

“”I know Stanford and California came in here representing maybe the middle or towards the bottom of our league, I don’t believe that’s necessarily worked itself out,”” Miller said. “”If you watch Stanford and Cal play, to me they’re better than what a lot people give them credit for, and we had two good wins last week.””

Miller hopes his team can finish the season strong after Thursday’s game, as opposed to last season’s second-half swoon.

“”We have to work to become that team,”” Miller added. “”We have a lot of players that are contributing, that’s a good thing to help us keep working to get better.””

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