Forget that fine
After the Pac-12 announced Sunday night that UA coach Sean Miller was reprimanded and fined $25,000 for his postgame actions after a Pac-12 tournament loss to UCLA, Miller did not issue a statement or appear at UA's news conference on Monday.
While he did finally become available for comment Wednesday, he would not say if he responded with a protest or an apology to the conference.
"That was last week," he said. "We're in the NCAA tournament right now. Our focus is the players and Belmont."
Miller also would not say whether he or UA would pay the fine.
"Like I said, I'm focusing on Belmont," he said.
UA athletic director Greg Byrne declined to comment.
A Pac-12 Conference 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.
Turning the corner in LA?
If the Wildcats wind up making a run in the NCAA tournament that puts them in Los Angeles for the Sweet 16 next Thursday, the location will be fitting.
It was in Los Angeles that Arizona players talked through some issues after their worst loss of the season, 89-78 at USC.
"That opened our eyes," forward Angelo Chol said.
Arizona lost to UCLA 74-69 on March 2 after that talk but appeared to play better in that game and since then. The Wildcats had a week before their March 9 game with ASU to revert to early season-like practices that went heavy on defense.
"We came back home, changed our practices, changed our philosophy and it's been working out for us," guard Mark Lyons said.
Since then, Miller said, the Wildcats played well in wins over ASU and Colorado, while losing "a heartbreaker" to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals.
"I think part of what our players are saying is we have played well and played hard against quality opponents," he said Wednesday.
"Hopefully that will lead into tomorrow against a great team in Belmont."
Just in case Nick Johnson needs any more motivation when he defends Belmont gunner Ian Clark, he can always consider that he was left off the Pac-12 all-defensive team last week.
"Honestly, I was a little bit (disappointed), maybe for about a minute," Johnson said. "Then I had to get ready for the next game. I would have loved to have been on it."
Johnson said he's better defensively than last year as a freshman, when then-senior Kyle Fogg was the Wildcats' top perimeter defender.
"I'm one year older and one year wiser," Johnson said.
"I had an opportunity to watch a lot of the older guys, how they approached their matchups and stuff like that."
Former UA star and NCAA tournament broadcaster Steve Kerr raved this week about Arizona's bracket and its chances.
"Look, you're Arizona," Kerr said. "You've got the talent to compete with any of these teams."
Except one, maybe.
"The Wildcats haven't beaten the Bruins all year long," Kerr said, laughing as he referred to Belmont's - and UCLA's - nickname. "They're 0-3 against them."
Wildcat signee Rondae Jefferson has moved Chester High School one step closer to a third straight Pennsylvania 4A title.
Jefferson filled the boxscore with 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two rebounds while the Clippers beat St. Joseph's Prep 62-53 on Tuesday.
"I love to pass, make my teammates feel good," Jefferson told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "When they're scoring and they're happy, we're a better team."
Made three-pointers in eight attempts by Jordin Mayes over the past five UA games.
Years each between UA's memorable 1993 NCAA tournament loss to Santa Clara in Salt Lake City, a double-overtime second-round win over Gonzaga in 2003 in Salt Lake and today's appearance in Salt Lake.
Arizona wins in 35 all-time games in Salt Lake City. The Wildcats are 5-2 in Salt Lake City NCAA tournament games.
West Region: No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 11 Belmont, 4:20 p.m. today, TNT, 1290-AM, 107.5-FM
He said it …
"They shoot the ball from all five positions and (Kerron Johnson) is just an absolutely dynamic point guard. He reminds you of (ASU's) Jahii Carson. He's only made 14 threes but a dynamic point guard and makes everyone else better. The best thing they do is transition and he's the quarterback."
Joe Pasternack, Arizona assistant coach
He said it …
"When the ball goes in the post they trap it, a lot like UCLA does. (Ian) Clark forces turnovers, slaps at the ball and they convert. But it's not just him. Wherever the ball goes they collapse on it. … We have to be very patient. We've got to have ball reversal and drive to pass and be able to attack them inside and handle their post trap."