While his players mostly took the “one day at a time” approach toward discussing high expectations today, Arizona coach Sean Miller tackled it head on during the Wildcats’ annual preseason media day.
Top 10? Final Four? Who knows?
After working with his improved club much of the summer, Miller knows the Wildcats will be pretty good. And he’s not totally shying away from that belief.
“I think expectations are always high at Arizona and rightfully so because of our great tradition,” Miller said. “Only I truly know where we were when we got here though. … It’s a process. Things take time. A year ago, I sat here coming off an Elite Eight, 30 wins, a Pac-10 regular season championship. Those are really special things. If that happens one time in a decade at many places it’s like `wow’ and because that happened so early it was almost assumed that that’s how it was going to be from this point on and we really had in my mind some things we needed to work out. We needed to be better across the board in a lot of areas.
“But I believe with the talent level on this year’s team and some of the experience that we combined with it, that we’re positioned to be good and do great things. What those are though I don’t know.”
One reason for Miller’s optimism has been the approach of his incoming four freshmen, not to mention their talent. So far, Miller said, there have been no issues academically or off the court with any of them.
“I don’t know if I’ve been around a freshman group – forget how they’re going to do on the court – that has handled themselves better on a daily basis than the four guys we have now,” Miller said. “They’ve had their days that were better than others but they’ve been really consistent in how they’ve worked hard every day. That more than anything gives me a great feeling about this year’s team.”
However, Miller went out of his way to caution against hyping 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski, the team’s projected starting center.
“The one thing I’d caution everybody (about) is sometimes when a 7-footer shows up who can play, expecatations are almost unfairly put on him,” Miller said. “He’s a young player who has come a long way to be where he is today. Three or four years ago Kaleb’s name really wasn’t on the scene and he worked really hard to develop. He’s going to have his ups and downs. I do think it will be apparent to everybody he has a bright future.”
Speaking of how freshmen, um, can be, Miller was asked at today’s news conference if the Wildcats will “miss” either Josiah Turner or Sidiki Johnson .
“Probably,” Miller said, declining to elaborate.
Miller also noted that:
All players have been available for all preseason practices, meaning no injuries or absences have been a factor so far.
Brandon Ashley’s body fat is now 10 percent, down from 22 when he arrived at UA in June.
Kevin Parrom (knee, foot) is 100 percent healthy.
The backcourt is the Wildcats’ deepest area.
With Mark Lyons, Nick Johnson, Solomon Hill, Kevin Parrom and even Grant Jerrett improving from the perimeter, “I’ll be surprised if shooting is one of our problems.”