If any coaches outside ASU know Herb Sendek and his defense inside and out, you might think it would be Sean and Archie Miller.
Sean Miller spent five years under Sendek as an assistant coach at North Carolina State, and Archie spent another four under Sendek between stops at N.C. State and ASU: He was an intern under Sendek at N.C. State in 2002-03, the director of basketball operations there in 2003-04 and an assistant coach for the Wolfpack in 2005-06 - and an assistant coach with him at ASU in 2006-07.
But the way Archie Miller described it Tuesday, filling in for his brother on the weekly Pac-10 teleconference, there isn't much of an advantage the UA will have when the teams meet Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena.
"Arizona State's defense is really a defense they tweak and adjust for personnel every season," Archie Miller said. "It's always improved, and the numbers speak for themselves. I don't know if we'll have any better read on it, but hopefully our team can compete."
It won't be easy. The Sun Devils lead the nation in scoring defense at 54.7 points per game, and they also lead the Pac-10 in scoring margin (plus 13.9), in part because of an offense that hits three-pointers at a collective 38percent rate.
Since being swept in Los Angeles to begin Pac-10 play, ASU has won four straight games, sweeping the Pacific Northwest schools.
"They hustle really well (their defense), and they're better in it because they understand it," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. "But I think they're really good offensively. They share it really well."
OSU coach Craig Robinson, whose Beavers managed to shoot 43percent against ASU on Saturday, said it helped that his team practices against its own zone defense every day. But he also said Arizona is a better shooting team and could create some problems for the Sun Devils that way.
"We have to work inside-out, because our outside shooting is not the best," Robinson said. "If you have a better shooting team, you can do a better job against it, and try to force them out of it."
With the Wildcats off Tuesday, Sean Miller headed to Baltimore, presumably to look at Lake Clifton (Md.) point guard Josh Selby.
Two weeks ago, UA assistant coach Book Richardson also made a trip to Baltimore, and Selby visited for the Wildcats' Jan. 10 game against Washington.
Selby is scheduled to visit Kansas, and possibly UConn, next month, then Kentucky in March. According to Zagsblog.com, Arizona and Kansas are leading for the top-10 point guard.
The extra time also meant the UA will have six full days in between its victory at Oregon and its game at ASU, which could pose a challenge in maintaining momentum.
"Our travel day (Sunday) was a day off, and I'm not necessarily feeling good about having that day off," Archie Miller said. "But it's good for guys to get back to school and get going in that regard."
On StarNet: Get to know the Wildcats with the Star's Cat Cards player roll call at azstarnet.com/catcards/2010/bball
• What: Arizona at ASU
• When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday
• TV: FSAZ
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM