LOS ANGELES -- USC may have suffered blowout losses in their first two Pac-12 games this season, but nobody around the conference has more reason to believe the Trojans are actually pretty good than Sean Miller.
His brother, Archie, lost to the Trojans at home with the Dayton Flyers last month.
And his old team, Xavier, coached by Miller’s friend Chris Mack, also lost to USC in the Bahamas in November.
“Looking at their nonconference schedule, some of the teams they played and how they performed, they’ve played some really good basketball,” Miller said today, before the Wildcats left their Manhattan Beach hotel to practice at USC. “They’re beating Dayton at Dayton, beating Xavier and in the Bahamas and I know how hard that is to do. I think they’re much better than they’ve shown here early on.”
At the same time, Miller could also have a scouting advantage, not only being able to watch the tapes of their new style under Andy Enfield, but also having the chance to talk to both his brother and Mack about the Trojans.
But Miller downplayed that edge.
“You learn enough scouting them,” Miller said. “It’s not that (Archie) is going to give any secrets. And (USC) has played so many games since that game. But I will say the USC game at Dayton is great to watch because they played really well. It was one of their best performances of the year.”
During his five-minute small group interview today, Miller also said the Wildcats haven’t really spoken much about the fact that a win Sunday breaks the UA school record for best start at 17-0.
UA is trying to approach all games similarly, he said.
“I think the approach our team has taken is a good one – staying (with a mindset that) today’s important, tomorrow’s important, be ready for every game,” Miller said, “and with very, very few exceptions through our first 16 games, we’ve been ready. Even when teams have played well against us, a lot of times it’s just been because they played well.”
Miller said he’s been emphasizing to Aaron Gordon to “just relax” at the free throw line. Gordon hit two free throws with 1:03 left against UCLA that pushed UA’s lead to 73-70.
It’s about “don’t make it any bigger than he needs to,” Miller said. “Aaron cares so much and works so hard that sometimes he can be his own enemy. That’s with anybody who has his personality.
“I don’t know if he made it because I said that to him but my point is just go through your ritual, do what you do. If you miss it, you miss it but don’t make it think about anything other than what you do every day.”
The Wildcats took Friday off, with many of them visiting friends and family while others took in the movie Lone Survivor.
Miller, meanwhile, had a very productive evening when he landed a commitment from 2015 guard Tyler Dorsey.
Was a bit surprised it took "only" 75 minutes to get from USC to Orange Lutheran High School on Friday evening. Was not surprised to find it took another 15 minutes to find a parking spot, since the parking lot and gym were overflowing for the big OC rivalry game with Mater Dei and Stanley Johnson.
Johnson had 22 points, four assists and two turnovers while playing point guard for the loaded Monarchs, who beat Orange Lutheran 65-48. Mater Dei has two other top 100 prospects (2015 guard Rex Pfluger and 2016 forward M.J. Cage). Both have received attention from UA while Cage already has a scholarship offer.
After the game, Johnson said he would attend the USC-UA game even if some Trojans fans needle him for spurning them.
"I'll try to be a ghost," he said.
Gabe York, a former Orange Lutheran star, showed up for most of the game, attracting a large crowd of people who wanted to hug him and take pictures. He spoke with Johnson briefly after the game.