As well as Sean Miller knows Mark Lyons, as a player Miller once recruited out of high school, there was one thing he had forgotten.
Ten full practices and a trip to the Bahamas quickly refreshed his memory – and brought Miller more excitement about the transfer guard from Xavier.
“I got away from recognizing that maybe the best thing he does is how quick he is on defense,” Miller said today, during his end-of-summer press conference. “He’s very old by today’s standards of college basketball. He’s been through a ton of practices and games so not only does he have ability on defense but he has the know-how and when you add a new player to your team they usually don’t have one or the other.
“It’s so unique to add a guy with his mindset and experience on the defensive end. …. Getting him really helps on that end of the floor. A lot of times you think of offense when you have a new player.”
In what was his first availability with local media since May, Miller also addressed a few items. Among them:
On the decision to take a quick trip to the Bahamas rather than visit Europe or somewhere more distant:
“Sometimes I think the college basketball season can be pressure-packed and long. The last thing you want to do is limp to the finish because of something you did a long time ago so instead of going to Europe or maybe the more conventional trip, we chose to go to the Bahamas.
“One of the good parts about it was each of our players had an opportunity to go there and go home. Kaleb (Tarczewski) for example, he hadn’t been home since early June because was here for both summer sessions, so to give him that chance is the right thing. He shows up rejuvenated instead of flying all the way from Europe to Tucson and maybe going right at it again.
“So I think if we had to do it over again we’d do the same thing. We learned a lot about ourselves. I think we’re just more comfortable with each other.”
On his three freshman post players:
“Kaleb Tarczewski is a player you don’t oftentimes have if you look at the history of Arizona, as great as it has been … He’s seven feet and more than 250 pounds. Grant (Jerrett) and Brandon (Ashley) I think complement each other very well. Brandon scores naturally, has a great feel. When you watched Derrick Williams when he was younger if you asked yourself, 'what move did he just make?' A lot of times he didn’t really make a move -- he had this incredible feel and great hands. I see a lot of that with Brandon.
“Grant Jerrett is an incredible shooter. If you lined our team up, he’s probably one of our top shooters from three. Someone as tall as he is, a 6-9 freshman, it’s always nice to have one of the frontcourt players who can shoot the ball.
“I think we have the size in the frontcourt that we haven’t had. Now it’s a matter of making those guys more comfortable and better and now we hope we can stay healthy.
“I also am so excited to have (redshirting forward) Matt Korcheck a part of our program. He’s as hard a worker as anyone. He’s involved in everything we do and that competitive environment we all want as coaches, we have five frontcourt players 6-9 or taller. That’s what we need to do some of the things we want to do.”
On how Kevin Parrom and Jordin Mayes did over the summer after injuries set them back last season:
“I think that (Bahamas) trip was more valuable for (Parrom) than anybody on our team because of what he went through a year ago. If he had any doubt in his mind he answered that not only with how he played in the Bahamas but how he’s played until now. I hope he can go from start to finish healthy and if he can, you have a player who, if we had a year ago, the outcome of a lot of games would have been different. Watching him move and shoot the ball, how he plays, he’s going to be difficult to keep off the court.
“He’s really proved to all of us that his injury is in the rear-view mirror, and if he has a future injury, it’s not going to be connected to anything in the past. Functionally, he’s 100 percent and more important than that, mentally he’s in a different place.
“I know having him and Solomon at 2-3 gives us a more experienced team and there’s no question playing him some at the two is something we’re going to do. … (And at small forward) we feel good about Kevin being there when Solomon is not.”
“(With Mayes), it’s unfair to judge Jordin on what happened a year go. He missed 14 consecutive week and the very day he was cleared to play 5-on-5 was our first practice. His experience and health really showed in the Bahamas. … He’s smarter, he’s bigger and he’s stronger. He’s one of the hungry guys on our team who wants to play more. He’s off to a really good start.”