Oct. 14, 2009
Head Coach Sean Miller
"As the head coach at Arizona right now I feel like I've been here for two years and really I've been here just six months. And I say that only to make the point that I've done everything but coach our basketball team. From the straight recruiting and trying to move a family, our staff, certainly get to know the players over the summer, almost going through a second faze of recruiting in July and September and then really getting to know the players in workouts and preseason conditioning, it all leads up to what everyone really cares most about and that is this season, and that we're all very excited to get to it. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I think all of us from the players to the coaching staff, and certainly me, we're excited to get going, it's been along time coming.
I look at our team and our approach as that we have to work hard to be better. We have a lot of ground to cover in the month of October and November, perhaps more than any team in our conference, and certainly very few in the country has more to do that we will here at the beginning, but I do think that we have a lot of young players that will get better, I think the fact that our system is going to be new to everyone, it just bodes well in terms of being a better team in the month of December than we were in the month of November, in January than we were in December and so on. We certainly look forward to the challenge of improvement, and at the end of the year, if things line up right, it wouldn't surprise me at all if we're a very good team, and a very dangerous team that has improved a lot. There's a lot that can go either way, and there is a lot of uncertainty going in to our first day of practice.
Video: Miller's presser
What are you most excited about?
It's really a brand new fresh canvas. But the fresh canvas that I mean is that every time we do something, it's the first. Many times in drills, you introduce the drill, and everyone stands there and looks at you, you know and I find myself saying, well of course there going to look at me, they've never heard the name of the drill being called that, and we take the first step and introduce the drill and the concepts that go with it, and those are things that in a few months will become natural, and certainly a year from now will become more natural, but it's the overwhelming challenge of everything being new, us to each other, and everything we do the first time.
Everything. I really couldn't tell you who the top nine players are going to be in our program, that's much in question. It's going to be up to the players to earn that, and I got back to the last question that I answered, that's very exciting for a coaching staff to have that because we'll have to figure out and a big challenge in the way of doing so.
Anxious to see in a game situation?
Not anxious at all to see a game (laughs). As a matter of fact, I don't want to see a game for some time, but we have had team practices, taking advantage of the NCAA rules where you're allowed post September 15th to work in groups of four or more, and we have taken advantage of that. That's been very helpful for us, and the ground that we've covered has allowed us to have a higher starting point now that we can have our official team practice. We've got know the players during the strength and conditioning program, both in the summer, but in particular once the school year had begun. Our skill workouts from the first day, we started up right away just so they can become familiar with our staff and what we are teaching and vice versa. We have had a very good fall. I think the one player that stood our more than others, just with his consistency, his talent, his work ethic is Jamelle Horne. Everything I've asked him to do in particular he's really done. He has great talent, can run, I think Jamelle has done a good job with his body, improving it. My hope is that Jamelle will be a better player as a junior than he was as a sophomore. That's the progression that I think he is following, and I think a better player will make us a much better team, and especially knowing that he is one of the few players that has had experience at this level, beyond Nic.
Thoughts on the way the roster has panned out
We have a lot of new players, I think it's nine freshman and sophomores, and I'd like to think that we are probably one of the youngest teams in the country. But I'm excited about the group of talent the younger group guys. They have a lot to learn. Some will progress more than others I'm sure, and each of them will take their turn as being true freshmen. But I have no doubt that they are a core group for our future, that I think we're all very excited to have in place. That won't get us much here in the months of November and December, as they have a role and they're learning.
How is the newness helping with implementing new ideas?
That's one of the challenges of our staff, and how well we do that is going to be to me, something that is going to be very important to our overall success. Going from where we are today to where we're going to be on the first game in terms of building our culture, teaching our system on offense and defense, the way we practice, terminology, all of the things that you deal with new players, we are, we're dealing with newness across the board. That's a big challenge. It's something we are working hard to mend.
Returners and their adaptability to the new style of coaching:
The have been adaptable, and I think we are all coming to a point, and I think its important that we move forward. What's happened in the past is the past. Three coaches in three years, or in Nic's case, four coaches in four years, that ended almost now, where we have a chance to being a new season. And I think it's not about what's happened, good or bad, it's more about where we go from today forward. And Jamelle Horne is a great example in that he's had some great moments here, and he's had moments were he's looked like a young player. My challenge as a coach is to bring out the best in him. Not because he played different systems, but because he is not under my watch. Kyle Fogg is another example. He did a tremendous job last year, but it's not about last year. It's about him being better as a sophomore, will he progress under our coaching staff. Really trying to look at this point forward is really important, and I think our players, being that the change happened six months ago in April, we are a long way from that now and I think that they are anticipating and looking forward to this season and a season where we all work hard together.
Nic Wise's importance to the team:
Nic's our most experienced player, you can make the case that he may be our best player. He certainly has the most at stake, coming back for his senior year, and I certainly wouldn't trade him with any point guard, being that he is as battle tested as he is, experienced as he is, and Nic's worked very hard. He had a very good summer.
Nic has clearly demonstrated throughout that he's one of the premier players in our conference, certainly one of the better point guards in the country, to me he's earned the right to be proven at this point. Still he has to prove, and all of us do around him that he can be a really great leader of this team because he has his hands full when you consider how many things have been thrown at him.
Arizona Player Quotes
Senior Guard Nic Wise:
How is this year going so far?
"It's going well. It's a lot of strength training and conditioning. It's going well"
How is it having Coach Miller?
"I've been working together a lot with Coach Miller. It's going to be a big load for me, Jamelle (Horne) and (Kyle) Fogg, but it feels good to finally have a coach."
How's it going to be without the big 3 this year?
"It's going to be a big task to be the one guy and the senior that everyone looks up to. You want to be the big man. I just got to live up to the role."
On having your brother Dondre Wise on the team?
"He's real good. He's underrated. A lot of people don't know about him. He does his own thing. He works hard. I hope he gets the time. We've been playing together ever since we were little. When I came to Arizona he came along and played at Pima (C.C.). We're pretty tight. We don't fight anymore. We watch the same shows and play video games together."
"When he would come to my games he would get on me if I wasn't playing hard enough. I would go to his games and critique him. He's a little different from me. He's bigger than me. He's 6-1. He can play three positions. He can take a lot of contact. He might be one of the funniest players on the team."
Junior Forward Jamelle Horne
"Coach Miller brought guys in. It's going to be a rebuilding year. This year we will focus on getting better. He brings seriousness. He did great things at Xavier. Things are intense right now. The good thing is that we have tons of talent and versatility."
Sophomore Guard Kyle Fogg
"I'll be an offensive contributor this year, and I worked on my defense and ball handling."
"There are more guards this year. The strongest point of our team is we are going to be really good offensively."
Sophomore Guard Brendon Lavender
On his experience gained last year
"I learned a lot as a freshman. I learned from Chase (Budinger) and Nic. They helped me out a lot. I worked real hard over the summer. I feel like I have a lot to show. I feel like I can impact the team offensively."
"Coach Miller, his style lets you play basketball and use your athleticism and skill. We play man defense. It's different than last year."
Sophomore Center Alex Jacobson
"We have a lot more freedom with our offense this year than last year. "I've worked on my game around the basketball and 15-foot jumpers."
"We are a very young team. We are going to have to pull together. Last year, we felt no one was on our side. This year we are real close."
Freshman Center Kyryl Natyazhko
On coming to Arizona:
"It feels great and I'm just really happy to be here. I have already grown as a person and player and I just hope to go on and get better."
"It has not been too much of a transition because my high school was pretty much a small college campus. The toughest thing to get used to is the timing and learning to schedule for every day."
"I have really enjoyed myself the two months I have been here. The people, the professors have all been great. Obviously, I'm foreign but that has not really been an issue because everyone is so great."
On wearing the UA jersey:
"There is a big tradition at this school. We have these jerseys of the greats like Steve Kerr and Mike Bibby hanging from the rafters and in the locker room and I'm just proud of myself and my grandparents are proud of me to be able to share something in common with such great athletes by putting on this jersey."
Freshman Forward Solomon Hill
On biggest transition:
"Easily the workouts. Even though we haven't really got to practice yet, the workouts are intense. And anytime we hit the weight room or hit the track, it's business just like it will be when practices start."
On what to expect:
"You know, everyone is going to get minutes this year. We are going to go hard and put a lot of bodies on the floor throughout the whole game."
Freshman Guard/Forward Kevin Parrom
On being in Arizona:
"I'm not really worried about going back home quite yet. Everything's the same there and nothing's going to change so I know when I go back it will be familiar. I like it here and I'm just looking forward to winning."
On Coach Miller's philosophy:
"Throughout the past month we have been working on defense, defense and more defense. He is a strict man-to-man guy. You play your man and don't get beat and that's what we have been focusing on."
On coming from the East Coast:
"I'm an up-and-down, run-and-gun type of player. Here there is a lot of that West Coast offense and it's a lot different. In New York we like to push it a lot and I want to bring that kind of style to this team."
Freshman Forward Derrick Williams
On playing for Arizona:
"It's unbelievable to be a part of this tradition and I just want to continue it."
"It's all about basketball here. You have students and fans just coming up to you everywhere and wishing you luck with the season. I'm a freshman and they know my name and I just really love the community for how much of a basketball town they make this."
"I just want to come here and contribute in any way I can and keep adding to that level of play every year."
"Some people have us not doing to well. They say that we are too young and not experienced. But I have a feeling we will surprise some people."
Freshman Guard Lamont Jones
On playing at Arizona:
"If you want to go to the NBA and if you want to play for a great coach, then this is the place to be. There have been a lot of great point guard here over the year and if I can get any chance to work with any of those guys during the summer or something, than that would be huge."
On living up to the expectations of so many great guards:
"It's been in my mind. This is why I made the decision to come here, to be one of the next great point guards and there is no doubt in my mind that I will be one of them by the end."
On the streak:
"(Coach Miller) has not talked about it much. But `The Streak' is `The Streak" and you can't get past that. At the same time, we have to go out there and play every night and as a team play the best basketball we can."
On emerging players:
"Honestly, I think everyone is emerging. We aren't treated as freshmen, we are treated as equals like everyone else and right now we are just at that stage where we are trying to establish that trust."
Sophomore Guard Dondre Wise
On playing with Nic:
"It's great. You know, I have played with him before and the only difference now is the stakes are higher and it's a bigger stage. He doesn't like to play me one on one anymore though, he's too little."
On being part of such a big class of newcomers:
"It's really exciting to see us all together. I think that as freshmen and newcomers, we can achieve some big things."
"I don't have too big of expectations for myself quite yet. What happens, happens. I just want to contribute in whatever way I can."
Freshman Forward Max Wiepking
On playing at Arizona:
"It's been really great. I was just trying to play somewhere and the last place I ever expected to end up was here."
"The size and strength of everyone on this team is unbelievable and that where I'm having the most trouble. Everyone's a lot bigger and more talented and I can't get away with some of the things I did in high school."
"I just plan on working hard and adding some weight and strength and see what I can help the team out with a couple years down the road."
Freshman Forward Ross Davidson
On biggest transition:
"Everyone's just so good at this level, especially on this team. In high school you get just a handful of good guys but here it is everyone."
"When I first came here I was a little nervous. Some of the guys like Nic and Jamelle were a little intimidating but we all got along right away and it's just been a great opportunity for me."