For the past 17 games, since Jesse Perry started over Jamelle Horne for the Robert Morris game on Dec. 22, Sean Miller has used the same starting five.
That may not be the case Thursday against Oregon State.
“We could” change the lineup, Miller said. “We’re working through that right now the next couple of days of practice. But no matter who starts the game, we’re going to play the 10 players and it’s that six through 10 make a big difference for us. This week is a big test for our depth, that those guys come in here and play well.”
Miller’s minutes distributed last weekend hinted to one possibility: Playing Kevin Parrom more or starting him.
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, while 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.”
Miller kept his players away from media this weekend, as part of his effort to keep them focused before facing Oregon State on Thursday.
“We don’t have a real mature team,” he said. “I don’t say that to be negative at all. We obviously have a very good team. But it’s not as if we have a bunch of players who have been through a lot, in their fourth year or juniors. We don’t have that. We have a couple of guys.
“But for us, it’s kind of the regime that makes us go – doing things every day and doing it as a total team.”
More from Miller on last weekend and the hype of being ranked No. 10.
“It’s human nature to get caught up in it,” Miller said. “But I think this weekend was two fold. No 1, don’t take for granted or discount USC or UCLA. Both teams are playing the very best they’ve played all season long. That was (UCLA’s) last homestand and whoever was going to go in there would have to play very well. They played good defense and they had big front lines. We had problems with both.
“The second thing is we really got away from what makes us a good team. I’ve said it all along to you guys (media), that we’re not a team who’s got a great margin of error. We’ve done it with depth throughout the season. We have to give great effort on defense. We’re not a big team and we’ve had one player play at a very high level in Derrick Williams.
“Do I think the Top 10 ranking, being 23-4, the Washington white-out game, probably had us off track a little bit? Yes. What I do also hope is that weekend servces its purpose, refocuses us and gets us back on track for what we do, and why we’re 23-6 right now.”
Arizona is still in a good position to win or tie for the Pac-10 Conference title this weekend, of course, and Miller is well aware of it.
“If I would have told you the very first time we got together in October that we’d be playing Oregon State and Oregon for the Pac-10 title and our 24th and 25th wins were possible – you’d say `Wow, a lot would have to go right for you guys,' " he said. "And a lot has gone right for us.”
Meanwhile, Miller said he doesn’t consider any one player the leader during this critical period of the season.
“We do it as a group,” he said. “There’s not that one player I would point to. I do think we have a group of guys who understand what’s at stake this week and we want to do well. We’re in a good place from an attitude standpoint.”
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