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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona basketball ranked No. 12 in AP Poll

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Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The official preseason AP Poll was released Friday, and for the second straight season the Wildcats find themselves in the top-25 — this year at No. 12.

“It’s great to be ranked,” head coach Sean Miller said. “That’s where we want to be, but it’s awfully nice to be able to be there in February [rather] than October, because at this point its only opinion. We have nothing to back it up against.”

Last year, Arizona started at No. 16 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll, but the Wildcats quickly fell out before finishing the season 23-12 and missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons.

”A year ago we had a real inflated preseason ranking and a lot of it had to do with what we had done a year before,” Miller said.

“But I would rather people feel good about what we’re doing and give us credit at this time of the year than the opposite. But clearly it’s up to us to earn it through our performance and our daily performance leading up to the first game.

“We still have a couple big weeks ahead of us and it’s so important that our team stays nose to the grindstone.”

The Wildcats are also ranked in the preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll, sitting at No. 11 overall.

“It’s our job and … our goal to be able to back up that a lot of people think we have an opportunity to be good,” Miller said.

Pac-12 struggles

Now that both national preseason polls have been released, it’s official — the Pac-12 is once again one of the weakest Power Six Conferences in the nation.

Only Arizona and No. 13 UCLA are ranked going into the season, tying the Pac-12 with the Big 12 for the fewest ranked teams.

Going into the NCAA Tournament last season, the Pac-12 had the 10th ranked ratings percentage index in the country, according to RealTimeRPI.com. That put it behind ever other power six conference and behind mid-majors like the Missouri Valley and Conference USA.

Stanford is the only other Pac-12 school to receive any preseason votes in 2012, but Miller said he feels the conference is the strongest it’s been since his arrival in Tucson.

He pointed to the depth in the middle of the conference, which he said has been a strong point of the Pac-12 in years past despite the overall dip in performance.

“You could make the argument we had four or five teams in the middle of our conference that could rival any conference’s middle,” Miller said about the four years he’s coached at Arizona.

The real problem has been the lack of elite teams at the top, and more importantly the Pac-12 bottom feeders.

“When you have a really bad bottom, it’s an anchor that pulls,” Miller said. “You name it: RPI, strength of schedule, all of these different numbers that people talk so much about … a bad bottom in your own conference negatively effects every one those.”

Three teams finished with losing records last season — Arizona State, Utah and USC. The Trojans and Utes finished with just six wins a piece and had RPIs of 265 and 270 respectively.

Previewing the Starting Lineup

Arizona’s tips off its season on Oct. 31, to take on the Humboldt State Lumberjacks in the Wildcats’ first of two preseason games.

Miller said the starting lineup is still a work in progress and each starter will have earned their spot come game day, but he gave a little insight on who might be starting. Senior Solomon Hill was a nearly a guaranteed starter from the get go, and Miller confirmed he’ll start at the small forward spot. Hill was named First Team All-Conference last season and will be the team’s senior leader in 2012-2013.

But the other player who’s distinguished himself in practice is freshmen Grant Jerrett. Through the first two weeks, Jerrett has been one of the most impressive players at practice and will likely start on Wednesday, Miller said.

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