For a change, preparation will not always mean work for the Arizona Wildcats this week.
With their next game not until Saturday against ASU, the Wildcats spent Monday watching some film, lifting a few weights and then taking the rest of the day off. On Wednesday, the Wildcats will have no athletic responsibilities whatsoever.
To UA coach Sean Miller, there's no better way at this point to prepare a "tired basketball team" that had played or practiced during 15 of the 16 days ending with UA's 67-57 win over Stanford on Sunday.
That one "off" day, too, was Jan. 3, when UA flew from Portland to Phoenix and drove from there to Tucson.
"This week is a big week because it's the first time in a long time we're not faced with a game in the next couple of days," Miller said. "Part of us being better might be to not practice a couple of times and kind of recharge our batteries. Prior to Christmas we played 13 games, and then after that we hit a heck of a mountain. For us to take a break, not travel and have one game next weekend - that's coming at a very needed time."
Miller said he has cut down on practice time but that doing so offers only minimal relief.
"There's a lot of preparation as well - watch film of Stanford, of Cal, of yourself, and you have to learn from a tough experience at Oregon State," Miller said. "The time that you're together and focused becomes a lot of time. It seems like we're always together."
After losing his starting job on Dec. 22 against Robert Morris, Jamelle Horne has become surprisingly comfortable.
"I honestly like coming off the bench," Horne said. "I like taking the first four minutes to take a look at the game."
That could become a problem of sorts - if Horne continues to play the way he did last weekend. Horne had 10 points and three rebounds against Cal and season-highs of 16 points and 12 rebounds on Sunday against Stanford. He hit all six three-pointers he attempted in the two games.
"We'll see moving forward," Miller said. "He could start again, that's for sure."
When told Horne said he enjoyed playing off the bench, Miller smiled.
"Whatever allows him to be the best he can be," Miller said. "But I don't think that has a lot to do with his good play. Maybe the fact he isn't starting motivated him a little bit, I don't know. He's just playing well right now, whether he starts or not."
Pac-10 honors Thomas
Washington guard Isaiah Thomas beat out Arizona's Derrick Williams for the Pac-10's Player of the Week award Monday.
Thomas averaged 19.5 points and 8.5 assists while shooting 46.2percent from the field, as the Huskies improved to 4-0 by sweeping the Oregon schools.
Williams, meanwhile, averaged 22.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in Arizona's two victories. He hit 70.6 percent of his field goal attempts and went 16 of 22 (.727) from the line.
On Thursday against Cal, he scored a career-high 31 points and broke his school record by shooting 22 free throws.
UA guard Kyle Fogg helped hold one of the Pac-10's best shooters, Jeremy Green of Stanford, to just 5 of 14 shooting on Sunday.
Fogg figures it's about time.
"Last year, I kind of got lit up a lot by a lot of different guys, and it really taught me what works and what doesn't," Fogg said. "Jeremy's a great player. … It's mostly the team helping me out. All I've got to do is stay behind him and try not to get screened. But guys like Jamelle and Solomon (Hill) coming up and bumping him when they come by gives me a lot of help so I can try to lock him down."
Miller said the UA defense was excellent for most of Sunday's game and cited Fogg's improvement.
"His defense on Jeremy Green was one of the keys to us winning," Miller said.
Turner sits out
UA signee Josiah Turner sat out a key game for Sacramento High School on Friday, and the circumstances remain unclear.
Sacramento High coach Derek Swafford told the Sacramento Bee it was due to an "internal thing" and that he would decide whether it would last for more than one game.
Repeated efforts by the Star to reach both Swafford and Turner's mother, Doris Ward, have been unsuccessful.
• What: Arizona State at Arizona
• When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday
• TV: FSAZ
• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)