Maybe this is the reason the Arizona Wildcats began a four-game winning streak at Oregon nearly three weeks ago: Sean Miller had finally paid his real Pac-10 dues.
Used to reaching most Atlantic 10 games via easy hour-long charter flights a year ago, Miller was saddled with the following itinerary to reach Corvallis, Ore., on Jan. 13: An early-morning practice, afternoon flight to Denver, three-hour layover, two-hour flight to Eugene, Ore., and a 45-minute bus ride to Corvallis.
The Wildcats arrived at 10 p.m. local time.
"From start to finish, it was a 10-hour ordeal," said Ryan Reynolds, UA's administrative assistant for men's basketball.
Twenty-three hours later, the Wildcats lost to the last-place Beavers on a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
If that was a rude awakening for Miller and his new UA basketball staff, this weekend could be even worse.
This time, Reynolds and basketball operations chief Jamall Walker not only have to worry about things such as getting guys out of bed, while making sure the meals and buses arrive on time, but they also have to make sure everyone transitions smoothly from tonight's game against Washington in Seattle to Pullman, Wash., for a game Saturday at Washington State.
All together, there will be 14 one-way bus rides, 10 catered meals, four flights and three hotels in a four-day period.
"Logistically, I'm not looking forward to this," Reynolds said earlier this week. "There's a lot of opportunity for me to kind of hyperventilate. What's going to happen? Is the flight going to be on time?"
Arizona, like all Pac-10 schools, does not charter planes to conference games. Miller indicated that could change with a new conference television contract - probably if more money and more odd scheduling results - but for now it's commercial jets.
That's OK for most Pac-10 teams, which can reach each other usually with a single nonstop flight. But for Arizona and WSU, two flights are often needed.
But on the whole, Miller and his staff aren't complaining, speaking this week of the many benefits to the Pac-10's tidy two-game weekend routine. Here are five of those perks:
• It's family-friendly. Especially for Arizona, whose players are overwhelmingly from outside the state, the schedule allows families to fly or drive in and catch two games in three days, then get home by Sunday.
Should they also want to see some of the Pac-10's tourist-friendly cities, they can also catch a pair of road games in nearly the same amount of time.
"I think it's great for players' families to be able to make a journey to Tucson and catch two games in three days," Miller said. "You're not able to do that in certain conferences. You think how worthwhile those trips are rather than seeing just a single game."
• It mimics the NCAA tournament grind. One reason cited for UCLA's first Final Four appearance under coach Ben Howland, as a No. 2 seed in 2006, was that the Bruins played their first four games in California all on Thursday-Saturday schedules. Just like the Pac-10 season.
"It's similar to the most important part of the year," Miller said. "I can't help but think that's an advantage."
• The trips are compact. Instead of going out one by one to face its Atlantic 10 opponents at Xavier, Miller's staff can now double up for all road swings except the overnight in Tempe to face ASU - and no doubling back is required.
"It makes it a lot easier knowing you only have to go to Washington once," Reynolds said. "You don't want to play Washington and then have to come back and go back to play Washington State on a late-February day. There's eight road trips in conference, but you're really only planning for four."
• Everyone gets the same deal. Because they stick to a Thursday-Saturday schedule routinely, except for the odd Wednesday or Sunday game, Pac-10 teams nearly always play each other with the same amount of rest.
"Sometimes, when you look at other conferences, we may have a two-day preparation period but the team we're playing has had an opportunity to practice for five days," Miller said. "That's a huge advantage."
• You can get in a rhythm. Pac-10 coaches have different philosophies on how they prepare for the second game of a weekend - Cal's Mike Montgomery says he does his prep work on the previous Monday, while Miller said he mostly focuses on the next opponent - but the coaches can stick with whatever they like week after week.
For Miller, the five days between Saturday and Thursday games allow for an off day plus time on Monday and Tuesday to work on their own issues before looking at the next opponent.
"Sometimes in our early part of the week in practice, we'll have a big picture of maybe what both teams will force us to do," Miller said. "But generally we try to put all eggs in that next-game basket, so that we can be the best we can be then."
On StarNet: Follow the Cats down the stretch of the Pac-10 season with Bruce Pascoe's blog go.azstarnet.com/pascoe
• What: Arizona at Washington
• When: 8:30 p.m.
• TV: FSAZ
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM
whirlwind weekend in washington
• Noon-2 p.m.: Practice at Richard Jefferson Gymnasium
• 2:45: Leave for Tucson airport
• 4:20: Flight to Seattle
• 6:37: (Pacific time, one hour earlier) Arrive in Seattle
• 7:45: Dinner at team hotel
• TBA: Evening film session
• 9:15: a.m. Wake up
• 9:30: Breakfast at team hotel
• 11-noon: "Shoot and Execute" game-day practice at Washington
• 3:30: Pre-game meal at team hotel
• 5:35: Depart for Hec Edmundson Pavilion
• 7:30: Tipoff - Arizona vs. Washington
• 10: Dinner at team hotel
• 5:45: a.m. Wake up
• 6: Breakfast at team hotel
• 6:20: Depart for Seattle airport
• 8:35: Flight to Spokane, Wash.
• 9:35: Arrive in Spokane, bus to Moscow, Idaho
• 12:15: p.m. Arrive at Moscow hotel, eat lunch at hotel
• 5:15-7:15: Practice at WSU
• 8: Dinner at team hotel
• TBA: Evening film session
• 9:15 a.m.: Wake-up
• 9:30: Breakfast
• 11-noon: "Shoot and Execute" pre-game shootaround at WSU
• 1:30 p.m:, Pre-game meal in hotel
• 3:20: Check out of hotel and depart for WSU
• 5:30: tipoff
• 8:15: Depart for Spokane Airport (dinner on bus)
• 10:15: Arrive at Spokane Airport hotel
• 8 a.m.: Wake up
• 8:15: Breakfast
• 8:40: Depart for Spokane Airport
• 10:20: Connecting flights to Tucson
• 4:50: p.m. (Mountain time) Arrive in Tucson