The Arizona Wildcats still have over a week to go before full-length practices begin, but the competition for playing time is already intense.
UA coach Sean Miller said Tuesday that he's not sure all of his 10 active scholarship players will eventually make his regular rotation - even though he's had deep rotations before and all 10 players are well-regarded.
"Each coach tends to talk about depth early in the year, but it's funny how that works itself out over the course of the season," Miller said. There's "injuries, foul trouble and once in a while, just distance between players that opens the gap up in a much wider scope that you thought it would.
"I don't know if (it will be) 10 players a game. I don't think our staff has a predetermined notion where everybody has to play. It's a matter of putting the best team out there from the first game on that gives us the best opportunity to win and be the best we can be. That's why practice is so important."
While Miller might otherwise go into December or the beginning of Pac-12 play to solidify his rotation, he is likely to know much more before then.
"You look at November and there's a handful of games we'll have," Miller said. "But by then, we'll have 20 or 30 or 40 practices under our belt, and that's when you really know who can do what."
What's helped Miller evaluate and implement so much ahead of schedule has been the Wildcats' brief summer workouts, which are now allowed by the NCAA, and the team's 10 full-length practices it held before its Bahamas exhibition trip in August.
Miller discussed the team's limited early-semester practices before a one-hour workout Tuesday in the Richard Jefferson Gym. Teams are allowed two total hours per week from Sept. 15 to Oct. 11, and full-length workouts begin on Oct. 12.
"We're a little further ahead than we otherwise would be and because of that these types of practices are more advanced," Miller said. "The things that we're working on are things that traditionally you don't get to do this time of the year, which is a real positive for us.
"For us, it's about implementing our own system and getting good at the things we can control, the things that we do, day in and day out, game in and game out."
Miller said UA has sold about 8,000 tickets so far for its Oct. 21 Red-Blue intrasquad scrimmage, an event Miller has been converting into a preseason "madness" style of event.
Last year, the Wildcats drew a sellout crowd while honoring several ex-Wildcats from the NBA (who were locked out at the time). Miller said he was hoping for a similar crowd this year, when UA brings in the 1987-88 Final Four team for a 25th anniversary celebration.
UA freshmen Kaleb Tarczewski committed to UA after attending last year's Red-Blue game.
And Miller is no doubt hoping the same effect might happen this time with UA recruiting targets such as 2013 forward Aaron Gordon, 2014 guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright, 2014 forward Stanley Johnson and 2015 guard Isaiah Briscoe scheduled to attend the game.
"The key programs have the biggest traditions - they all have that weekend in the fall, whether it's midnight madness or a Red-Blue, where you bring all the elements together and allow your fans to experience it," Miller said.
"And obviously, it's an opportunity from a recruiting perspective to have a weekend that makes sense for a lot of prospects to attend."
Top 10 picks
Both the Sporting News and Athlon Sports ranked Arizona in their preseason Top 10 prognostications, ahead of Pac-12 rival UCLA.
Sporting News put Arizona at No. 8, with UCLA No. 11, while Athlon had the Wildcats No. 7 and UCLA No. 12.
Another preseason publication, Lindy's, ranked UCLA No. 10 and Arizona 18th.
On StarNet: Follow the Cats as they prepare for the season at azstarnet.com/pascoe