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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Recap Pac-12 men’s and women’s basketball media days

Tom Price

Center Kaleb Tarczewski (35) poses for a photo at Wildcat Media Day on Saturday, Oct. 3.

Both the Arizona men’s and women’s basketball teams participated in their respective 2015 Pac-12 Conference Basketball Media Day events Thursday in San Francisco.

Arizona basketball head coach Sean Miller and center Kaleb Tarczewski were representing the men’s team. Miller’s Wildcats were picked to finish in first place in the conference by the Pac-12 Preseason Media Poll, with 18 first place votes. It’s the fourth consecutive season the conference has picked the Wildcats to win the Pac-12.

“Today represents the beginning of a lot of good things for college basketball and I think on our side at Arizona, there are a lot of new faces,” Miller said during his press conference. “If you walk into the McKale Center and watch us practice, you would find yourself for the first time in several seasons maybe not knowing everybody’s name and figuring out who’s who.”

Miller then praised his team’s senior leadership and mentioned what an experience it has been coaching Tarczewski for the last three seasons.

“The one common theme that we do have is unique senior leadership and experience,” Miller said. “The guy next to me [Tarczewski], I don’t know if I have coached too many players, if ever a player that has been more unselfish, more giving, more hardworking than Kaleb.”

Since the team was in the Bay Area, Miller gave a shout out to former Wildcats and newly crowned NBA champions Steve Kerr, Andre Iguodala and Luke Walton to start his press conference and wished Kerr a speedy recovery from a spinal leak.

Miller also talked about how much has changed within the process of college recruiting over the past couple of seasons.

“If you were to tell me that I would sign 35 players in seven years, I would have told you I would not have been the coach at Arizona,” Miller said. “A lot has gone wrong. What it speaks to is the fluidness of our game. It’s not when you get it started, it’s how ready are you to stay in it.”

Arizona women’s basketball head coach Niya Butts and forward LaBrittney Jones represented the UA at the women’s event.

“I’m just ready to play,” Butts said. “Just excited to have, for the first time in about four years, we started out the season with our roster being able to practice. Just excited for the season, looking forward to it.”

Though the Wildcats have struggled to fill their roster spots throughout the last couple of season, Butts continued to praise the team’s depth.

“We were in practice last week. We put five in, and I looked over, and we had five more and some more after that,” Butts said. “I was thinking to myself, this feels pretty good right now. You can never tell what’s going to happen in terms of injuries, but it feels good to be healthy right now.”

Although the lady Wildcats were picked to finish dead last in the conference, that’s not the way Butts and the rest of the team are approaching the season.

“I think every year, you are given a chance to prove something regardless of where you’re picked,” Butts said. “But every day we are going to work the same. My mindset is the same every year no matter where [we’re] picked; my effort doesn’t change.”

The men kick off their season Saturday in their annual McDonald’s Red-Blue Game scrimmage. The women’s team will kick off their season on Nov. 10 in an exhibition game against Eastern New Mexico.

Follow Matt Wall on Twitter.

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