Arizona basketball: Clutch Lyons holds his own

Mark Lyons was a combo guard at Xavier before transferring to Arizona, where he took on point guard duties - to mixed reviews.


Today is no day to be a Pac-10 dinosaur.

The conference now known as the Pac-12 first tossed out its traditional double round-robin last season after squeezing in Utah and Colorado because nobody wanted to beat each other up for 22 games.

This season, with lucrative new television deals calling for more exclusive broadcast windows, the old Thursday-Saturday format is being stretched more than ever.

Arizona plays in the most extreme example this week: The Wildcats will host Stanford tonight and will get around to playing Cal on Sunday at 5 p.m.

It's such a long "weekend" that Arizona, which sometimes had as little as 36 hours between Pac-10 games under the old media rights deals, might even take Thursday off for rest.

Imagine that.

Well, UA coach Sean Miller can. He's actually lived it.

As the coach at Xavier, he was subject to working games at virtually any time of the week in the Atlantic 10 schedule. And, at home on his television, he could watch college basketball most every night.

So, to Miller, maybe it's about time.

"The historic part of the Pac-10 makes everybody feel funny, that it's not the traditional Thursday-Saturday," Miller said. "But around the world and the country, that's been going on for a long time. I think it's more up to us to adjust to how everybody else is doing it than just worry about 'so and so had more days or less days.'

"The bigger picture is the visibility that our new contract provides, and it's a really, really great advantage," Miller added. "If we have to play on odd days, that's part of it."

As it has turned out, for Arizona, the advantage has a little picture, too. The Wildcats have five games preceded by an extra day of rest than their opponents this season, but only three with one day fewer beforehand.

Arizona is also catching Stanford when the Cardinal happens to be the first team this season having to play a Wednesday game after a Sunday game.

Oregon State, which lost at Stanford on Sunday will do the same when it hosts Utah tonight. But the Cardinal had to travel to Tucson, after just two days of prep time at home, while Arizona took off Sunday and prepped two days at home before tonight's game.

Coupled with the fact the Wildcats are the seventh-ranked team in the nation, the schedule disadvantage just might be enough to derail what could be the Pac-12's hottest team. Stanford has won three straight games, including a 76-52 drubbing of then-No. 10-ranked Oregon.

But, like Miller, Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins said that's just the way it is.

"It is part of the way the schedule set up for us," Dawkins said. "We're excited about the possibility of playing a terrific team. We have a few Sunday games and quick turnarounds. The prep changes a little bit, but the bottom line is you just have to play the games and prepare."

What Stanford is doing this week is basically treating their preparation for Arizona as if it were the second game of a Thursday-Sunday swing, which teams were occasionally assigned even in the Pac-10 days.

"Absolutely," Dawkins said. "It almost reminds you of that Thursday-Sunday. You only have two days of prep, so you have to use those days wisely and get ready to compete."

While some Pac-12 teams have chartered home between two games of a stretched-out weekend, Dawkins said the Cardinal would stay in Arizona before facing ASU on Saturday in Tempe.

So will Cal, which will face the Sun Devils on Thursday before appearing at McKale late Sunday afternoon.

Bears coach Mike Montgomery said the big issues are finding a practice facility between games and figuring out when to schedule the mandatory day off that all teams are required to take each week. He said it was "interesting" that Stanford was handed a Sunday-Wednesday turnaround.

Other than that, Montgomery said he's not too concerned.

Even as the dean of Pac-12 coaches, he is no dinosaur.

"I don't know how much it affects things," Montgomery said. "But to be honest, I'm not going to worry about it. It's not time that's wisely spent."

Rim shots

• Freshman forward Grant Jerrett has sat out practices and has worn a protective boot after suffering "a little bit of foot pain" against Washington State, Miller said Tuesday. Miller said UA was being overly cautious in case a stress fracture or reaction developed and that Jerrett would likely play tonight.

• Guard Nick Johnson has recovered from a stomach illness that caused him to throw up before and during the WSU game, Miller said.

• Forward Kevin Parrom is facing an ongoing internal discipline after he was ejected Saturday for a flagrant-two foul at WSU but will play tonight, Miller said, adding that the officials' call of a flagrant-two foul was correct.

"There's no place in our game for retaliation," Miller said. "I don't think Kevin punched anybody - in fact, I'm 100 percent certain - but he reacted to a physical block out, and if you connect above the shoulders, it's a flagrant-two."

On StarNet: See video of the latest team news conference at


• Who: Stanford at No. 7 Arizona

• When: 7 p.m.

• TV: ESPNews (Ch 331 on Cox; Ch 102 on Comcast; Ch 207 on DirecTV; Ch 142 on Dish)

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)