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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

The final countdown

Michael+Ignatov+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AUniversity+of+Arizona+meets+Augustana+in+an+exhibition+mens+basketball+game+in+McKale+Center%2C+Tucson%2C+Ariz.%2C+Nov.+4%2C+2009.+Arizona+went+on+to+win+92-76.
Michael Ignatov
Michael Ignatov / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona meets Augustana in an exhibition men’s basketball game in McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 4, 2009. Arizona went on to win 92-76.

One exhibition game down and one more week to shore up any gut-wrenching issues. That’s all the time the Arizona men’s basketball team has before the start of its official season.

The Wildcats will play their second of two exhibition games against Western New Mexico University at 7 p.m. in McKale Center.

“”We worked hard since our Augustana College game,”” said head coach Sean Miller. “”One of the really good points that you can grasp in playing an exhibition game is the fact that it’s the first time our team can watch themselves on film against another opponent. And the clarity of the mistakes is really out there.””

As a college point guard at the University of Pittsburgh, Miller played for then-assistant coach Mark Coleman, who is now Western New Mexico’s head coach. Now, Miller faces Coleman on the opposing sideline.

“”I think the world of him,”” Miller said, “”and I’m happy I get a chance to play him.””

Overall, Miller will use the game against the Mustangs out of Silver City, N.M., to find more comfort and a more established routine before the opener against NAU on Sunday. Having two exhibition games has given the Wildcats, with their new coaching staff and five freshmen, more reason to call McKale Center home.

“”It was different for me and the team,”” Miller said of the Augustana College game. “”It’s a new arena (for us). I think (having two exhibition games will) be helpful across the board in gaining that sense of comfort that you want in a home game.””

“”And also just getting five freshmen, who always thought about what it’d be like to play in an arena and play in front of a packed house … they’ll be more at ease, more relaxed, more sure of themselves.””

And as usual, expectations were lowered, at least until the team officially hits the court.

“”We want to be that group, that team, that works hard every day to earn the right to be good,”” Miller said. “”What that means for this year’s team in November, December we’ll see.””

Finding Mr. Consistency

Defensive rebounding was one of the more pressing issues in Arizona’s first exhibition game.

Throughout practice this week, the focus has been on the entire team helping out in that department and the team’s guards are being asked to box out more.

“”If you can’t defensive rebound, it almost hurts the things that you are doing well,”” Miller said.

Forward Jamelle Horne was perhaps the only player who has consistently rebounded the ball early in the year, and his head coach called him the team’s best at pulling down missed shots.

In fact, Miller seemed to indicate that Horne’s performances this year would make or break how well the team plays, saying the junior was among the team’s best shot blockers, three-point shooters and most versatile defenders.

Because of that versatility, Miller said, the numbers next to Horne’s name in the box score might lie. Consistently producing in all aspects of the game will be the key for Horne.

“”He can play a great game and not score nearly as many points,”” Miller said. “”I’ll flip it and tell you that he can score 20 points and absolutely kill us.””

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