Rawle Alkins said the Wildcats were surprised they were headed to Boise instead of San Diego but both he and UA coach Sean Miller largely shrugged it off during a news conference Monday at McKale Center.
“I think for us you can’t make too much of the seed or the place you’re going,” Miller said. “You have to play well. It can be the perfect set up but if you don’t play really well there’s so much parity in the tournament that you’ll end up losing.”
Sean Miller on if he was surprised with Arizona being placed as the No. 4 seed in the South Region: pic.twitter.com/vDDOflR13k— The Wildcaster (@TheWildcaster) March 12, 2018
When asked about the South bracket Arizona is in, Miller said:
“We’re in a four-team tournament. The difference is if you lose, your season ends. If you win, it’s very similar to a Pac-12 road trip. You have a day in between and you play a second game so hopefully for us we have the opportunity to advance and the winner of that four-team tournament goes to the Sweet 16.
“You try to shrink the thought process and not worry about the entire tournament, but try to worry about the game that’s in front of us, and do the best that we can.”
Miller said the Wildcats were “elated” that associate head coach Lorenzo Romar was named as Pepperdine’s head coach. Romar was the Waves’ head coach for three years before heading to Saint Louis and Washington, then arriving at UA last spring to replace Joe Pasternack after the Huskies fired him.
“We didn’t know how long he would be here for,” Miller said. “Clearly if he had an opportunity as good as Pepperdine, it’s something he has to take. We’re excited for him. He’s done an excellent job in the year that he’s been with us and he’s really helped guide the ship. We’re gonna miss him but our seasons not over yet and I think he knows that as well so we’re looking forward to the NCAA Tournament.”
Miller praised the play of point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright in the Pac-12 Tournament.
“One of the reasons we won the Pac-12 Tournament was Parker’s overall play,” Miller said. “His defensive games back to back to back were just outstanding. His leadership was great. He made open shots and he played like that senior, that veteran type of player. … I don’t know if he’s ever been more confident in his ability and certainly us being confident in him. He did a great job. A big, big reason we won in the Pac-12 Tournament was his play.”
Miller said he challenged PJC to play well down the stretch because “he’s never coming down this way again. He’s the senior. He’s been in part of a lot of big moments. He’s learned the ropes early as a freshman. His role has grown each year that he’s been here but this year coming down the home stretch you really, really on your guards but especially you’re most experienced players.”
Buffalo relies on its guards, too, something Miller is of course aware of.
“They have outstanding guards and a lot like teams in our conference they do a really good job of having a wing player play the four, (Jeremy) Harris, who’s an excellent offensive player,” Miller said. “They play three and four guards at a time. They have very good depth, so I think between their depth and the versatility of their guards, and the fact that they really a wing player at the four, that’s been to their advantage all year.”
Miller said the Bulls are “incredibly talented and well coached,” striking in transition and filled with confidence.
They are confident, according to this Buffalo News story. Forward Nick Perkins said UA's "two-hand punch" (presumably of Allonzo Trier and Deandre Ayton) is something the Bulls could stop.
"I feel we can go out there and get the win," Perkins said.