Pac-12 penalty in past, excited Miller moves on

2013-03-20T17:39:00Z 2013-03-20T18:22:27Z Pac-12 penalty in past, excited Miller moves onBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 20, 2013 5:39 pm  • 

SALT LAKE CITY -- You might say the Sean Miller on the podium today was a bit different than the Sean Miller on the podium in Las Vegas.

Miller said he was excited to be in Salt Lake City. That the Wildcats are playing well. And happy to be seeded sixth.

"Six times four is 24," he said. "You're among the top 24 teams, somewhere between 20 and 24. I'd say that's accurate in describing our team."

But since Miller didn't issue a statement or show up at Monday's news conference after the Sunday night announcement that he was fined $25,000 by the Pac-12 for his actions after a semifinal loss to UCLA, Miller had still not addressed whether or not he contacted the Pac-12 to apologize -- or protest.

So I asked if he had any communication with the Pac-12 over the issue. This was his response:

"That was last week," he said. "We're in the NCAA tournament right now. Our focus is the players and Belmont."

I asked if he planned to pay the fine or if UA would pay it.

"Like I said, I'm focusing on Belmont."

UA athletic director Greg Byrne also declined to comment. A Pac-12 spokesman said there is no appeals process, so Miller (or somebody) will be paying the fine, which goes into a Pac-12 scholarship fund for fifth-year students who have finished their eligibility.

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Other than new warmup gear, and some excitement about playing in the NCAA tournament, much was the same for the Wildcats today. They are staying at the same hotel that they have for the past three seasons (vs. BYU in 2010-11, and vs Utah in 2011-12 and last month), and practiced privately at Utah's Huntsman Center.

"I think we still have the same game plan," Solomon Hill said. "It's the same type of preparation... We just need to be the same aggressive team that we have been for a couple of games."

That the Wildcats wound up at the same hotel was completely random, since teams are assigned differing hotels depending on their seeding.

"We got real lucky with the hotel," said Ryan Reynolds, UA's basketball operations director.

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When the Wildcats stayed at Salt Lake City a month ago, they actually made a major change: Putting Kevin Parrom in the starting lineup in place of Brandon Ashley, after their 71-58 loss at Colorado.

"Coach felt like if we were going to go out the season with a bang we should have the seniors, the guys who dedicated the time to this program," Mark Lyons said. "Ever since, Kevin has been starting, it's been great for us. He gives us the extra boost in the lineup with his three-point abilities and the way he hustles and his leadership."

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Surprise of the day: Belmont coach Rick Byrd actually didn't like the three-point line, which was implemented the same season that he arrived at Belmont.

"I was kind of conservative on rules, and I thought, `Why are we starting to get points on longer shots?' " Byrd said. "I think it takes more skill to get it in closer to the basket." 

Byrd said he later realized he could only recruit marginal Division I players as Belmont transitioned to D-I, so he realized the "most under recruited guy was a guy who could shoot it but maybe didn't reach the athletic line that a lot of coaches in Division I want as a player."

Today, 39 percent of Belmont's shots are three pointers and they hit them at a 38.6 percent rate.

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All of the podium interviews from Salt Lake City can be found here. We'll have more content posted later tonight with comments from locker-room interviews.

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Is this East Coast bias? President Obama doesn't pick a single Pac-12 team to get out of the first round.

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Jon Wilner picks the Wildcats to win and cover the four-point spread.

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Rondae Jefferson had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead Chester to a Pennsylvania 4A semifinal win.

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Anthony Gimino took a look at Jordin Mayes' newfound confidence and technique.

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Key Kentucky freshmen may return, which could affect Aaron Gordon's college choice.

Gordon will attend Oregon's NCAA tournament game in San Jose, Calif., according to Ducks guard Dominic Artis.

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For Salt Lake City, it's a collection of standout coaches, including Sean Miller.

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Andy Glockner of SI has an interesting look into the science of scheduling.

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Cal needs to be aggressive against UNLV.

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Craig Robinson says he doesn't feel any pressure.

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