Today was media day at the University of Arizona for Sean Miller and the 2011-2012 Wildcats. After coming within just two points of a fifth Final Four appearance last season, the head coach and his team are hungry to get started and want to make another deep run in March Madness.
Miller met with the media and answered a ton of questions. Here were some of the highlights:
"We're very excited about the start of things. We've had a great eight weeks since the beginning of school and jumped right into it as every team does in today's college basketball world. We are welcoming four freshmen who are all learning what Arizona is like and the difference between college and high school. Each of those guys have their own personality and they are all doing very well.
As a team we're hungry to get back out there and practice. Anytime you have the success we had, especially last year in March, it's a feeling you want to return to and I think everyone in our organization realizes it is so hard to do and we're ready for those challenges as we start back up."
On The Four Freshmen:
"Josiah Turner is 6'3, more than 190 pounds, so his size really stands out as a player. He's a fun guy to play with on offense because he passes the ball, and the more open court situations he's in, the more comfortable he is.
Nick Johnson is trained really well, playing at Findlay Prep and living away from home for two years, being in that competitive atmosphere trying to win a high school national championship has really made his transition from high school to college an easy one, if that's even possible. Nick is a winner and I've been really impressed with how talented he is on defense. I think before he's done at Arizona we'll look at him as someone that can guard a variety of different players.
Angelo Chol, to me, he's one of the hardest workers on the team. Not that Josiah or Nick don't work as hard, but a lot of times I think guards or perimeter players, guards, innately work the game harder than front court players, maybe that's just my opinion but for someone 6'8, 6'9 like Angelo is, he just has an incredible motor. In the gym constantly, shooting extra shots, and that's something you don't always know until they get here, and, to me, just his willingness to learn and work ethic really stands out as does his quickness and ability.
On offense, Angelo is a face-up player. On defense, he can cover of ground, block shots, and do a lot of things teams love to have.
Sidiki Johnson is a physical low-post player. In some of our team workouts we've had he's scored around the basket and really gives our team a physicalness our team really needs. We will look to him to establish a toughness and rebounding element on our team. For a freshman to be able to do that, like Sidiki, like Josiah, physicalness, 240 pounds just as a freshman, he has an advantage because of how strong he is."
On Kevin Parrom's Injury and Progression:
"It's hard, it's been consuming. You don't think about practice, you don't think about a lot of things when one of your own players has been shot. There isn't necessarily a manual on what you do. You really just try to be there and monitor the process.
In Kevin's case, he has such a great family behind him and the fact he was able to get to Tucson as quickly as he did had no bearing on his health and had to do with his family's faith in what we do here. When Kevin is surrounded by his teammates and coaches, he is able to get to class and the students at Arizona, be surrounded by the community, that's when he is at his best and allows him the best chance to be successful.
So we're always trying to make sure he's in a good place, not just physically as he tries to make his comeback but also emotionally so he's in a good place there. That's hard to do for any of us let alone someone who is 21 years old."
On Derrick Williams Being Gone:
"Different. Very different. And I'm sure it will be even more different once the games start. Derrick's a very big loss because one of the reasons things turned around so quickly for us was how good of a player he became and when you lose that, the effect is going to be felt.
The thing that Derrick did more than anything was on a recruiting perspective. It gave us a lot of momentum based on what happened to him."
- The non-conference schedule was referred to as "brutal" and Miller expects the entire Pac-12 to be competitive and balanced throughout the year.
- Assistant coach Joe Pasternack has been a "great fit" so far and his recruiting ties have already paid off.
- Miller suggested the team could use three guards on the floor at any time this season.
- Jordin Mayes is completely healthy after undergoing surgery in July to repair a broken foot. The sophomore guard has also added a lot of muscle and is up to 195 pounds.
- Kevin Parrom's status for practice and the season seem to be absolute unknowns right now. It may be weeks, it may be months, he may miss the entire year. No one really knows.
- Kyle Fogg has been the primary senior leader and Miller called him, "as prepared as any senior he has ever seen."
- Kyryl Natyazkho will be counted on heavily this season. Miller was really impressed with his final month of last season and expects him to be a defensive presence all year long.
- Do not expect Midnight Madness to return. Miller emphasized the importance of the Red-Blue Game (Oct. 22, 2 p.m.) once again and said it's a huge event for the program.
SB Nation Arizona will have much more on UA Hoops in the coming days. Interviews with players will be posted soon, so be sure to check those out. For more on the 'Cats, check out AZ Desert Swarm.