UA HOOPS

Arizona basketball: Serious silliness

Even during jovial media day, Wildcats focus on hard work
2012-10-11T00:00:00Z 2014-08-01T11:20:17Z Arizona basketball: Serious sillinessBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 11, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Mark Lyons was a part of three Sweet 16 teams at Xavier, and he has no doubt that his new team is at least that good.

"Talent-wise, yeah," said Lyons, the senior guard who transferred this summer to Arizona. "But a lot of teams get bumped out early or don't achieve what they should, so I am going to keep our guys on the right path and keep them level-headed.

"We're gonna get a lot of good pub in the beginning, but if you don't (succeed) at the end it means nothing."

With that in mind, the Wildcats' veteran point guard will be happy to know that many of his new teammates stayed in the "one day at a time" mindset Wednesday during the team's annual preseason media day. Even as Arizona is being picked in everyone's preseason Top 20 and even some Top 10s.

Listen, for example, to freshman forward Grant Jerrett:

"I believe we can just come in as a team, every day in practice and get better and have a successful season," Jerrett said. "We all just want to win. That's the main thing."

And freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski: "Everyone here wants to win. We're going into the season with open eyes. We don't want to put too much pressure on ourselves before the season starts."

This, too, from sophomore guard Nick Johnson: "We hear about the rankings and stuff like that. We just come to practice every day and take it one game at a time."

So what really came out of Wednesday's media day? UA introduced its four new freshmen, Sean Miller spoke with mostly optimism for 47 minutes and the players had a chance to joke around with each other when they weren't being interviewed (or even, in some cases, when they were).

Here were five of the highlights:

• Miller said there have been no absences for any preseason workouts so far - full-length practices begin Friday - and once again praised the maturity of his highly touted freshmen:

"I don't know if I've been around a freshman group - forget how they're going to do on the court - that has handled themselves better on a daily basis than the four guys we have now," Miller said. "They've had their days that were better than others, but they've been really consistent in how they've worked hard every day. That more than anything gives me a great feeling about this year's team."

• Jordin Mayes is feeling good. After struggling through a difficult sophomore year, when he struggled with foot issues and never approached the level of his strong perimeter shooting as a freshman, the junior combo guard said he is expecting to contribute fully this time.

"It's a great feeling being able to go hard," Mayes said.

• Johnson took about 22,000 practice shots, after hitting 32 percent from three-point range last season.

"Last year I went through a little slump shooting the ball, so I've been working on that," Johnson said.

• Freshman Gabe York is competing with Johnson for playing time at shooting guard, which is probably fitting.

"We're literally the same person," York said. "We laugh at the same jokes. We both like the same things. And obviously on the court, he's a big and athletic guard, and I'm almost as tall as he is, and I'm just as athletic. So we pretty much are the same person."

• Despite having fellow Pittsburgh products in Miller and trainer Justin Kokoskie around to chat about his beloved Steelers, guard T.J. McConnell found one thing not quite like home after transferring from Duquesne this summer.

"The weather," McConnell said. "I usually just stayed at my house. When I had to go outside, that's when the heat got me."

Still, while McConnell will have to sit out under NCAA transfer rules this season, he said he is excited.

"Everything's been great," McConnell said. "I'm happy to be an Arizona Wildcat, play for a coach like Sean Miller and play for my teammates."

On StarNet: Find out what Sean Miller thinks of this year's Wildcats team at azstarnet.com/video

Up next

• What: Red-Blue Game

• When: 2 p.m. Oct. 21

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