March 17, 2013
Selection Sunday Quotes
Head Coach Sean Miller
"We are obviously honored to be a part of the NCAA tournament. At the University of Arizona, because our program has been a fixture for so long in college basketball, you almost sometimes can take for granted in being in the tournament. I am grateful and I know our team is grateful for being in it. The only thing you need to look to be reminded of how fortunate we are is to look at Kentucky. The machine that they were a year ago, they were an overall number one seed and the National Champions, but then a year later, they aren't even a part of the tournament. It shows you the parity of college basketball. That's why March Madness is so special and that's what we're so excited about; the fact that we're going to Salt Lake City, an area that we're familiar with in the west, the wheelhouse of our great fans, it only enhances this next game for us."
"I have coached against Belmont, they have one of the best coaches in college basketball, and he's been at it a long time. They are a terrific shooting team and they are not just a good team, but a great program. We have the ultimate respect for them. You can play the game as good matchup, bad matchup, but when you play in the NCAA tournament, it's all about advancing, so in any game you play, it is going to be difficult. I don't know if any of us looks at the opponent and says, `Boy that's a great matchup, this is going to be easy'. We know it is going to be a challenge; we're not even looking beyond that game. We are excited to be in Salt Lake City, like I mentioned. I am really excited for our team to have the opportunity to play on Thursday in this great tournament."
On receiving a No. 6 seed and playing in Salt Lake City:
"One thing the seeding reflects is the quality of the season that you had. A sixth seed, you times that by four, you are viewed as the top-20 or top-24 teams in the country. If you consider overall how we performed in the season, that's pretty accurate. Whether we could have been one higher or lower, when you are in and around the seed that we're at, I don't think that really matters. The first round game is difficult."
On the Salt Lake City and its advantages:
"We're excited to play so close to home in a city that is a part of our conference. From our guys' perspective, everything, from traveling there to staying at a hotel that we've stayed at before, plays somewhat as an advantage to us. If the selection committee sent us to another location, we would have gratefully gone there and I would be saying the same thing, except we might have not been playing as close as we are. The fact that we're in Salt Lake City, like I said, we are thrilled to be a part of that community and the respect that we have for Belmont I've already mentioned before. In particular, being able to play in front of as many as our great fans, that to me is something that we're fortunate to have on our side."
On the team's current quality of play:
"We are playing at a high level right now. You could only judge yourself by your own season, and I don't know that if there was another time this season that we've played better. I say that because we played quality opponents in our last four games, three away from McKale and one at home against Arizona State. We have individual players playing at their best and our team has a good mindset right now. The one thing about the NCAA tournament; it is not a seven game series, so sometimes a slow start can do you in. But I believe we're approaching Thursday's game with a good frame of mind.
On the team's confidence:
"Our team has a collective confidence that we can win. Individually, we have a lot of players playing at their best. We have both individual and collective confidence on our side."
On Belmont's shooting ability:
"When I faced Belmont before, they really value shooting and they generally can shoot (well) with more than their perimeter players. Their front court players can really shoot the ball and put you in those compromising positions and it's really what I said since October, it's so important to defend the three-point shot. It's something that at times during the season, we've started to improve and it's been well-documented. At times, it's done us in and the monster we're dealing with in the opening round of the NCAA tournament is that very thing. That doesn't mean we can't do it, that doesn't mean we will do it, but playing Belmont, every coach looks at their ability to shoot and it's scary. We have to do a good job in that area like how any team plays them."
On Belmont's defense:
"If you look at Belmont's statistics, and we're only beginning to look at them. They really turn you over. They are one of the teams in this country that are really able to turn you over by pressing and using quickness. And if you think about the other component, their ability to shoot the three at four and five spots, your turnovers can lead to threes and easy baskets, that's something that UCLA was good at. Hopefully, learning the value of taking care of the ball can help us here."
On mindset heading into Thursday:
"From this point on, we all learn lessons as a coach. I've never been more motivated to coach Arizona, our players and our great fans. I'm only worried about us."
On Jordin Mayes' recent performance:
"When you think about conference and postseason tournaments, generally, there are guys on a team who come off the bench or players who aren't the marquee matchup in the beginning of the game that just play really well. They can do it by shooting the ball really well. A couple of years ago against Texas, Jordin [Mayes] went 4-4 from three as a freshman. If you think how close that game was, it wasn't Derrick Williams or the starting five that made the biggest difference. It was players like Jordin who came off the bench and doing their job with confidence. He is one of many players right now that is playing their best basketball this season."
On coaching approach heading into Thursday:
"From a coaching standpoint, you have to try to keep things as normal as possible. I don't think you want your players or your team to approach this game as if every shot is life or death or every dribble leading up to the game is more intense than it has ever been. If anything, you want them to settle into the norm and that's one of the reasons why we try to keep the intensity throughout the season because if it is always up then you don't need to increase the intensity to be ready. What I hope in these next couple days is to have a team that is relaxed, confident and excited but understands how hard you have to play."
On the chance to play in a regional in Los Angeles:
"The possibility of playing in Los Angeles is exciting from the perspective of having our fans involved. We have the best fans in the world and we saw it in Las Vegas this weekend, it was incredible. But it would be foolish for us to think in those terms because like how we entered into the conference tournament, I wasn't sure who we were going to play in the second game. You know how hard it is to beat a Colorado team and once that's over with, you move to the next one. In this tournament, the next one never comes unless you play an excellent game. We're really completely consumed with Belmont. Their coach is a great coach. They have been here before, they compete for championships. When you get recruited to Belmont, you are competing to be a part of the NCAA tournament. They are trying to advance and they have players who have won a ton of games."
On the parity of college basketball this year:
"There are a lot teams that are closer together and there isn't a big of a difference among the quality of teams compared to the past few years. This year doesn't have that one team like Kentucky was a year ago, but I do think that if you look closely, it's been difficult for the last five to seven years, maybe even more, to see who gets in these first and second round games. Thad Matta and Billy Donovan, Ohio State and Florida, are two of the great programs in the country and it wasn't too long ago that they went from a Final Four to not even making the tournament. The fact that we're in it is not to take for granted and what I hope is this is the start of many consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Like I said, you don't have just a good team but a good program and you build that from the opportunity to play in this tournament."
On the Pac-12 conference tournament:
"I think in all that we do, whether you're a father, son, brother or coach, you're not going to be the same five years from now as you were five years ago. You get into situations and circumstances where you learn a lot. This week was a learning experience. What it tells me as the coach for Arizona is that we have each other, that our players and their development and their opportunity, by far, is the thing that matters the most, especially to me and our staff."
On the team's approach towards the NCAA tournament:
"Our players don't have to go very far to figure out that I care a lot about them. I see guys like Solomon [Hill], Mark [Lyons], and Kevin [Parrom], who are one loss away to end their collegiate careers. It is the greatest motivating factor for any team and coach. The further that we can take them and they can take ourselves; that is what this is about. March isn't about the coach, a game; it's about the players. It's about the players that know deep down, that they will never put on a uniform again for the University of Arizona. It's our responsibility is to protect those guys and develop them and hope their careers stay as long as they can go. There is a lot of emotion attached to that and we know."
On freshmen Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, and Grant Jerrett and their recent performances:
"Our freshman big guys are really getting better and playing with a lot of confidence. Kaleb [Tarczewski] in the last two UCLA games, had 22 rebounds. It's difficult to grab 22 rebounds against a team that is talented as UCLA, especially if you consider that he played around about 50 minutes (total). Twenty-two rebounds in 15 minutes (at the Pac-12 Tournament), he was really terrific against UCLA. I continue to want to get him the ball more. Brandon Ashley had his best game that he has played in Arizona against UCLA. Grant [Jerrett] has also been coming along very well. The college game is very different for big guys."