Arizona basketball: Miller has a full schedule

After day off, coach eager to get players on court, in film room
2011-10-30T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T10:19:23Z Arizona basketball: Miller has a full scheduleBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 30, 2011 12:00 am  • 

LOS ANGELES - Never one to waste a minute of his time, Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller was chained to the Nokia Plaza on Friday afternoon between the end of Pac-12 media day and a required dinner function.

His body language suggested he couldn't wait to leave, and who could blame him?

Clearly, after UA's 69-68 exhibition loss to Seattle Pacific on Thursday, Miller was eager to get back on the floor and in the film room. Arizona took Friday off then had just three days to work before facing Humboldt State in their second exhibition game Tuesday.

"This weekend is a big weekend for us," Miller said. "We need to focus on things that we need to get better at. This is a chance to watch ourselves on film versus another team - now (as opposed to an intrasquad scrimmage) you either did it, or you didn't. It's a great way of being able to learn."

Among other things on Miller's to-do list: Re-examining the center position, where Sidiki Johnson and Kyryl Natyazhko combined for just two rebounds against the Falcons; further developing his point guards; and finding a way to get freshman guard Nick Johnson on the floor more often.

Already, things are unsatisfying enough for Miller that he's considering breaking one of his usual rules by having two freshmen play more than one position each: using power forward Angelo Chol at center and Nick Johnson at the point.

Already, Miller is experimenting with playing starting shooting guard Kyle Fogg at small forward at times, which would open minutes for Nick Johnson, but that may not be enough.

The Wildcats may need Nick Johnson on the floor as much as possible. Johnson scored 18 points in 21 minutes against Seattle Pacific, hitting 3 of 5 three-point attempts and 7 of 11 field goal attempts overall, while nearly bailing UA out of the loss at the end.

Fogg, meanwhile, was 1 for 5, and Jordin Mayes was 0 for 2.

"We have to look at Nick playing another position if he continues to progress," Miller said. "But it's hard to play two positions as a freshman. For the most part, with freshmen, we keep them at one spot."

Moving Johnson to the point guard at times could put additional pressure on sophomore combo guard Mayes, who is already battling freshman Josiah Turner at the point. Miller started Turner on Thursday and had Mayes in at the end of the game, but said Turner would improve.

Mayes, meanwhile, is still not in top condition after undergoing July surgery for a stress fracture in his foot.

"I think Josiah will get better," Miller said. "There's such a learning curve between high school and college. Four weekends from now, two weeks from now, they'll get a lot better. … Jordin is behind the eight ball because he missed two months. You don't just miss two months and come back to it."

Johnson's production, meanwhile, is also lighting a fire under Fogg, which the senior guard has been welcoming.

"Nick definitely played great" against Seattle Pacific, Fogg said. "He's a really consistent player so you can expect that night in and night out. Me and Nick have to go at each other at the two."

Then again, so does everybody else.

"The real games are coming up soon, so we've got to treat these practices like they're our last," Fogg said. "I think at times we do a really good job at our practices, but we've got to carry it over to the games."

Coming Nov. 6

Preview the Arizona Wildcats' 2011-2012 season in the Star's annual special section.

Up next

• What: Humboldt State at Arizona (exhibition)

• When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

• TV: FSAZ, 1290-AM, 107.5-FM

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