'Frightened' players frustrate Miller

2010-12-15T16:07:00Z 2010-12-15T17:36:07Z 'Frightened' players frustrate MillerBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star

Sean Miller will do all the talking on this post. Here's a word-by-word transcript of the first 11 minutes of his news conference today:

"We didn't play well against Cal State Fullerton and there's always players and people who say, 'Well, maybe that's the coach just trying to be hard on a team after another win.' But you can win a game and not play well and set yourself up for failure. You can lose a game and play really well and really hard and set yourself up for future success. To me, the week leading up to the BYU game we didn't handle post-Oklahoma very well. Whether it be the way we prepared for Cal State Fullerton, we got probably what we deserved. That's not to diminish the credit that BYU deserves. I think you'll find as you watch them like you did last year they won 30 games, they are one of the best teams in the country and certainly on offense. 

"Our job now is to learn from it and move forward. There are plenty of teams that lose a tough game, respond and are better because of the experience and we want to be that team.

"We've worked hard in practice. I don't think anybody on our team felt good about our performance (against BYU).  The way to respond is get back to practice, get back to work, take criticism, take coaching, and learn what you could have done better as an individual player. Then when that time comes again be more ready and not let that happen again as much as you can control. I think our team has done a good job the last several days and they're finishing finals so our players are under a lot of pressure right now.

On his perception of if the team is better) "I think it's real easy to say our team is better than we were a year ago. We're deeper and we're better at the things we do. Were we on Saturday? Not really, but I watch our team every day and I watch individual players. If you just look at Derrick Williams where he was last year and where he is today, it's a much greater place. He's built for succss a lot more than he was a year ago.

"But we're a work in progress. We're missing pieces.. we have to get better at certain things.

"We shot six airballs against BYU. You can go a season and not shoot six airballs. We had a number of guys frightened. The stage was too big, the lights were too bright, things weren't going our way, the crowd was loud. It was just not our night. Our fight, having been in that circle many many times, just wasn't there. We didn't rally around each other and get back on track. I don't know if there was a time in the game you could point to us being poised or playing the way we've played (in previous games).

"Having said that, the danger is I also don't want to put our whole early season and beyond on one performance. It's difficult for any team to be good every night and we weren't. We weren't good and we played against a team that was ready and we lost. But I hope we can learn from that and bounce back and watch our team tomorrow night and see some of the great basketball that we've played this early season. That's all I'll answer right now. I'm like everybody, it steals your confidence, when you see guys not catching the ball, (not) passing the ball, shooting airballs and not being ready. We've addressed it as best we can and we'll move forward."

On whether practice has been different) "I don't want to have a practice that's just really lackadaisical and not intense and no one really cares and then you lose, and then it's like, `Whoa, lets be really intense and let's be on it.' That's not a solve-all for anything. We want to be consistent with how we practice and it doesn't feel good to go to practice knowing we didn't play well this weekend but our course, like a lot of teams right now, is to learn from it and get better, what things we could have done better this weekend. Let's make sure we work on those. Let's make sure we're ready for NAU because that game is a very big game for us. We have a chance to go 9-2 and going 9-2 out of 11 games is moving the right direction."

(On if players were anxious to get back to practice this week) "Yep. We've had a good attitude going back to practice. That's not the objective, though -- like don't show up at the practice ready, show up at the game ready. There's no, `It's ok, we lost to BYU.' It's not ok. There's nothing about the trip that's ok. How we played, how individuals played, our team defense being down by that deficit is not OK, and being able to address it and move forward it's not always an easy task. I don't necessarily walk around here right now as the coach not bringing up BYU. It has to be brought up. And I think that the more its brought up and the more we're positive in our approach to solving problems, the more it's going to be better moving forward.

On players not being ready for the stage) Just to a man, other than Jesse Perry and I'll give Kyryl a little credit, I don't know if one of our players, our team was anywhere near where we've been. We've had dropoff almost to a man. Defensively we've regressed. If you just look at the numbers, two of the top offenses are BYU and Kansas, and to compete on a neutral setting is a heck of a challenge for any team. We have to play very hard. Be on it, be really responsible and say that's about the best and hardest we can play. At the end we may pull up short. But there's a difference between losing that way and experiencing what we experienced this weekend. To me that was a reminder again of where we are and how far we have to come."

(on whether its a significant concern that players appeared scared): "Yes. Big time players and teams -- they're ready. They have great swagger and confidence on the away court. They're the same. You watch them -- you don't always win and you don't always lose -- but you just kind of see that same group working they're way through, playing team defense, getting contributions from the bench and (having) your best player playing well. We didn't have that at BYU."

"Our goal and we've talked about it, we want to get away from it, we still have a young bunch. We have don't have a lot of guys who have had great success away from home. We have many guys who have taken some unbelieveable ass-whuppings in big moments and part of the culture, part of us getting our program back is, to not accept that, to get away from that and be a team that everybody's proud of because we fought hard, it was a great basketball game and we lost. And we move forward to the next game. But that's a hard thing to get. Once you have it, it can really last a really long time. If you don't have it, it can happen again.

"We don't want to be a team that plays one way on a Thursday at McKale and four days later it's `Who are those guys on the road?'

"One of the keys is once you establish a certain way of playing defense, it's amazing how that team looks the same no matter where they play or how they're playing against. Not that they're going to win every game but you just have that feeling that we're on the right (track). Our defense left us in a big moment on Saturday and when you lose effort and concentration on defense and the ball's not going in, and you're playing against a really good team that's playing well you kind of experience that avalanche that we experienced."

"But it has to start somewhere within the team and guys in this program get a lot of credit. They should be judged how you did at BYU, both as a team and as a individual. Just generally speaking, when you look at those great teams Arizona had and you look at those great games on the road, that's when those players made their mark of who they are. We have to get to that point and we're not there right now.

(on whether it's important for someone to emerge besides Williams) "Derrick has to emerge. You've got to play defense and offense. If it's 75-72 in the Kansas game, you gotta get the rebound. You've gotta make big plays at big moments. You can't be in foul trouble. Gotta be terrific on defense and offense. Can't be 23 points, eight rebounds and no effort on defense. Gotta play both ends of he floor. When your best players are playing both ends of the floor and giving great effort for 40 minutes, that's a great starting point.

"We've had a lot of contributions from other players. I'm not as worried about that. I'm worried about Derrick and making sure that he's playing as hard as he possibly can on defense. That's a big, big question mark.

"Moving forward, learning from the BYU game, we need him to be better defensive player, a great competitor, who played a team game on defense, not just on offense.

"I think any team who has players scoring a lot of points but giving up a lot aren't going to be very good. They're going to be 16-15. That's part of what we're talking to Derrick about, and how he has to respond and it's part of the growth (to get) to the next level for him as a player."

 

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