So how are those 10 full practices going before the Arizona Wildcats’ exhibition trip to the Bahamas next week, and the integration of all those talented new players?
It's difficult for fans or media to know, since Arizona has closed practices, forbidden interviews and said it would not publicize “in any way” activities contained within the workouts because of an NCAA rule.
But Arizona did offer up a filtered view of what’s going on via a video of coach Sean Miller.
“I think it’s gone really well,” Miller said. “Our team’s had a positive edge to us.”
Here’s a rundown of items Miller discussed on UA’s video:
The benefit of having Jordin Mayes and Kevin Parrom back from injury plagued seasons.
“It’s great for them to practice and be healthy and play and in a sense get that head start, get the feel of the game, the feel of five-on-five that you can’t do if you don’t have the opportunity to practice. A lot of people focus on the freshmen but it’s equally beneficial to the returners and especially those two guys who’ve gone through so much last 12 months.”
On how foreign trips help team chemistry:
“Just the travel alone, spending time with each other… Being able to be on a trip where although it’s about basketball, it’s also about the other things. Players learn each other, they know each other. The distance between a freshman and a newcomer and someone like Solomon Hill, who’s a senior, it’s really closed because they spend more time at a time of year when they’re generally not even here on campus – they’re all at their different home sites."
On UA’s newfound depth.
“I believe there’s a fine line in saying it, because all of us are one significant injury away from being a much different team. One of the things we dealt with last year is just that. I look at Kevin Parrom going down in September last year and really never coming close to who we thought he would be thought as a rising junior. We all hope for good health and when it doesn’t happen we have to overcome it.
“But I do think from a physical perspective, we’re bigger, we have bigger bodies, we have more depth up front. The addition of Mark Lyons gives us an additional guard but it also gives us someone with great experience. So many times you get a transfer or newcomer and you have to teach them your way. The fact that he knows our way and has been in two Sweet 16s… we have some components that really could be the makings of something special, something we can build on last year where we won 23 games yet pulled up short. We don’t want to pull up short and we feel we have some things in place that can really help us do that.”
On redshirts Matt Korcheck and T.J. McConnell:
“Just them along practicing, competing against us in those two hours, two and half, it just makes for a more realistic practice, something that's closer to what we face on game day.”
On his starting lineup possibilities:
“I’m not so sure our starting lineup this year will be consistent. I think part of what we have is a number of guys that in a given week or stretch in a season, can go from first sub to starter. We can play that for a lot of reasons. We can play it as a positive and sometimes as a reminder of how important practice is. I do believe that’s something we’ll take advantage of again if we can continue with good health.”
On UA’s freshmen:
“The one thing we have going for us especially the four freshmen, it’s very apparent that each of those guys, even though they’re from different backgrounds, it’s very apparent that each of those guys that they are here for the right reasons. They want to win. They are willing to learn. They’ve put in a lot of work over the summer with almost no issues. The issues many times in coming from high school to college (are) lack of responsibility, unfamiliarity with the work ethic, and we’ve had almost virtually none of those issues with these guys. That to me, aside from their talent level, is exciting. When you have those new guys and you have buy-in from the beginning, it makes life so much easier. It allows our older guys to lead them and allow chemistry to take place in an easy way. They’re very mature beyond their years. … that’s something we’re excited about.”