UA basketball: Media demands can be too burdensome

2011-03-02T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T10:00:16Z UA basketball: Media demands can be too burdensomeBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 02, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Just about every day during basketball season in the early 2000s, then-Wildcat basketball standout point guard Jason Gardner would stop by Arizona's media relations office.

"He'd say, 'What's going on? What do I need to do?'" said Richard Paige, UA's media relations director for men's basketball.

Usually, Gardner would be assigned one or more interviews to conduct, either via phone to national reporters or in person to local ones, just part of the deal of being on what was a preseason No. 1 team during Gardner's sophomore (2000-01) and senior (2002-03) seasons.

Similarly, when the Wildcats skyrocketed into the national polls over the last month, guys like Derrick Williams, Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom were summoned to media relations for sit-down or telephone interviews.

The difference was, it was a much higher level of attention than any of them had received before, with the possible exception of the one week Fogg - and three current UA reserves - spent as part of the Sweet 16-bound Wildcats in 2009 as a freshman.

"You want to do all that stuff, but it's just hard," Paige said. "Before, we had guys like Jason, Luke Walton, Richard Jefferson, guys who had grown up in a situation where those things were normal for them."

In other words, while the Arizona program wanted to jump on the opportunity of so much positive exposure after years of instability and not-always-favorable coverage - the ever-popular "Arizona is back" story was particularly flattering last month - there was an unfamiliar burden that came with it.

That burden may have, in part, surfaced last weekend when the Wildcats lost to USC and UCLA in Los Angeles. Although UA coach Sean Miller said a big part of UA's losses was how well the Trojans and Bruins played, a lot of it was on the Wildcats, too.

"It's a stark reminder for our basketball team that when we're not doing the things that make us a good basketball team, that we're very vulnerable, especially at this time of year when there's a lot at stake," Miller said during Tuesday's Pac-10 teleconference call. "I thought our team got on the plane (to L.A.) a little bit fat and happy. I don't want to say overconfident, but we hadn't lost in over a month, we had won eight games in a row, every national media seems to have interviewed our players, and I think we got away a little bit from what makes us a good team."

"USC and UCLA gave us the medicine that we deserved."

So this week, while noting he has held individual player meetings and is also thinking of lineup changes, Miller kept his players shut off from the media world. No players were assigned to UA's weekly media interview session Tuesday, and none did phone interviews with national reporters. (UA also had only one player, Kyryl Natyazhko, available for interviews after the UCLA game.)

The only thing they had to worry about this week, Miller hoped, was the Oregon State game Thursday and their schoolwork.

Miller compared it to what BYU coach Dave Rose must go through trying to manage the demands on star guard Jimmer Fredette.

"You want to make sure you allow him to be successful," Miller said. "There's a fine line right now, a lot on our guys' plate. Not only are they going to class, but we're playing for a lot, we're getting ready to go into the postseason. It's just allowing those guys to go through their day and think about what they need to, which is to be our best on Thursday."

Changes possible

While Miller declined to specify what lineup changes he is pondering this week, the minutes he distributed last weekend hint to one possibility: starting Parrom.

Parrom averaged 23 minutes a game in the Wildcats' losses to USC and UCLA, averaging 7.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and his usual intangibles. Starting small forward Solomon Hill played less than 20 minutes in each game and struggled all weekend.

Power forward Jesse Perry also played less than 20 minutes in each game, though he managed 12 points and six rebounds at USC.

"Regardless of who starts, we have to play Kevin more," Miller said. "I don't think he goes from about 20 minutes a game to 40. But playing him 25 minutes a game, he's earned that.

"As a coach, when you're on a win streak and things are going well it's tough to change, but when you lose a couple, you reflect and I think sometimes see things in a clearer light. Kevin's play has emerged. He's become a better player now than at any time. He just does a lot of good things for us."

New wrap

For the first time since Jan. 27, when he injured his pinkie against UCLA, Williams might have a reduced version of a protected wrap on it for Thursday's game.

Miller said tape would still wrap the pinkie with his ring finger but not be as heavy on the rest of his hand.

It could be "a version of what he's played with," Miller said, "which will be a lot less, and that will be to his advantage."

Williams averaged 11.5 points in Los Angeles last weekend, well off his 19.1 season average.

Up next

• What: Oregon State at Arizona

• When: 7 p.m. Thursday

• TV: FSAZ

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

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Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
USC 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0.000

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Azusa Pacific at
Washington State
11/7 12:00 am
Cal Poly Pomona at
Arizona
11/9 4:00 pm
Mount St. Mary's at
Arizona
11/14 6:00 pm
Coppin State at
Oregon
11/14 10:00 pm
Detroit at
Oregon
11/17 9:00 pm
Cal-Irvine at
Arizona
11/19 7:00 pm
Oral Roberts at
Oregon State
11/21 7:00 pm
Texas-Pan American at
Utah
11/26 6:00 pm
Northern Colorado at
Colorado
12/13 4:00 pm
Washington State at
Santa Clara
12/13 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Oregon State
12/15 8:00 pm
Grambling at
Washington
12/17 9:00 pm
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