Sean Miller played in the Big East and spent all of his coaching career before Arizona east of the Mississippi, but said today he’d rank the UCLA-UA rivalry with the best in college basketball.
“Just as somebody who follows college basketball and has been a part of it, you get a feel for the incredible tradition and some unreal coaches,” Miller said on today’s Pac-12 teleconference call. “It’s always going to be a game of great meaning.
“I think it’s (comparable) to Duke and North Carolina, though those schools are obviously much closer together,” Miller said. “It’s like Syracuse and Georgetown when you had John Thompson and Jim Boeheim, like Florida and Kentucky with Billy Donovan and John Calipari. For UCLA and Arizona I would put it in the same context.”
Also on the media call, Miller said he thinks the new rules of emphasis intended to create freedom of movement are slipping back to the old standards.
“Some crews have called it tighter than others,” Miller said. “I’ve found it isn’t a whole lot different now. And I’ll just say I’m happy with that. We have a great game. It’s hard to change it.”
Miller added more praise for Kyle Anderson when asked about the Bruins’ versatile point forward.
“He’s more sure of himself, he’s stronger” than as a freshman, Miller said. “I can’t say this enough: you put all the great wing players in a category of guys who are going to have great NBA careers, all-Americans, you have to put Kyle in that group if you look statistically at what he is doing for UCLA. … He’s not only a unique player but his production is just astonishing.”
Despite all the heated talk these days about the USC-UCLA rivalry, USC coach Andy Enfield said it didn't feel any more difficult at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday than some a lot of tough road environments.
"The UCLA and USC rivalry has been around for decades but as soon as the ball is tipped, it's another basketball game and you have to play," Enfield said. "I think a lot of the hype of our rivalries is pregame but once the ball is tipped up you have to play."
Enfield said he could write a book on what fans have said at games, but was "oblivious" to anything that might have happened in the crowd Sunday.
"I was focused," he said. "I was trying to figure out what we could do."
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