Wildcats happy to bring in New Year at 12-0

2013-01-01T15:18:00Z 2013-01-01T20:05:12Z Wildcats happy to bring in New Year at 12-0By Bruce Pascoe, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

UPDATED to note that Kameron Rooks has committed to California.

The son of former Wildcat Sean Rooks, Kameron had attracted interest from UA as a possible spring signee.

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Sean Miller scheduled practice today at 2 p.m., which meant the Arizona Wildcats could have slept in a bit after New Year’s Eve.

But Nick Johnson, for one, didn’t hardly need to.

“It was a normal night for me,” Johnson said. “I went to bed at a decent hour, got up and had some breakfast. With us, you can’t really go out and get too crazy. We’re in the season. You can’t be a regular student.”

Kevin Parrom, the other of two players made available for media interviews today, smiled about New Year’s Eve but indicated he was restrained, too.

“It was good,” he said. “Good to bring in the New Year being 12-0. We have a big game on Thursday and we’re all prepared for that.”

Especially with this year’s group, Miller may have had little reason to worry when he warned his players Monday.

“Every coach talks to his team about being responsible and I only hope that they were,” Miller said before today’s practice. “Part of what you give these guys when they go to college is responsibility. No one’s going to be with them from midnight all the way ‘til five in the morning.

“But I do think we have a focused team and everybody understands we’re beginning conference play and we’ve invested a lot. And I’m sure that the guys did a good job. At least I hope so.”

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Many of the Wildcats based in the West scattered home for the three-day break between Thursday and Saturday, though Parrom joked about being a “T-Loc” (Tucson Local) and staying here. So did Mark Lyons and several other players.

For Parrom, the break was set up well when the Diamond Head Classic trophy accompanied the Wildcats on the team’s flight from Honolulu to Phoenix.

“It was good coming home with that big trophy,” Parrom said. “It was a six-hour flight so that made it a lot smoother.”

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During his news conference today, his first since the Wildcats won the Diamond Head Classic on Christmas Day, Miller said he was now concerned about if the Wildcats can keep up their chemistry and unselfishness as the conference season begins.

“It’s hard to continue to practice in a competitive way in the months of January and February, when that (early season) shine has worn off,” Miller said. “I’m sure like every team we’ll have our ups and downs like that, but I can only go on what our team's done so far and we been together now for about six months, played 12 games and practiced roughly 50 times, and our chemistry is really good. No question it’s one of the reasons we’re off a good start.”

Miller said his other top concerns at this point were turnovers and getting the ball inside more often. He said he believes the UA's issues with ball-screen defense against San Diego State were a one-time problem that has since been corrected.

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In today's edition, we had an early look at Colorado, a new "rival" for the Wildcats. The Buffaloes beat UA 53-51 in the Pac-12 Tournament final last season and reached the third round of the NCAA tournament.

"Colorado, rightfully so, rode a lot of momentum they got from making the tournament into winning a game in the (NCAA) tournament," Miller said. "But it’s amazing that there was one shot that separated us from doing that and not them."

The Buffaloes are 10-2 this season with what Miller called three of the most talented players in the conference: Guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker, and forward Andre Roberson. Colorado also has talented freshman center Josh Scott, whom Miller compared to UA's freshman big men.

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Rondae Jefferson assisted himself on this eye-opening dunk.

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Aaron Gordon put on a show at the Les Schwab Invitational.

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Ahmad Starks and Joe Burton led OSU over Texas-Pan American.

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Oregon, which will host UA on Jan. 10, remained unbeaten at home after taking care of Nevada.

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The Salt Lake Tribune took an updated look at Pac-12 teams, and had Utah-based analyst Ken Pomeroy saying that the bottom of the league is better. Jack Magruder over at Fox Sports Arizona also looked at the conference.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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