THE MODERATOR: We will take questions for Coach Miller.
COACH MILLER: Well, very, very excited to be here in the Sweet 16. I'm sure every team in this field is equal in the great feeling that it brings the players on your team and all of us started a long time ago. To be at this point is an accomplishment in and of itself. We certainly feel good about that.
Also, being here not very far from Tucson on the west coast, it's nice that we didn't have to travel very far to get here, and I know that we'll have a lot of fans and families of our players able to be in attendance which only makes it that much nicer for our own players and program.
We recognize we have a tough task. I would say that every time in this field does, there are no easy games from this point on, and to be playing Duke at this level is a daunting task just because of how comfortable they are playing in this Sweet 16 and the team that they have and everything that goes with them. We recognize that we're going to have to play an extraordinary game, and that's our goal, to be at our best here tomorrow night.
Q. Sean, just curious if you could talk a little bit about what you learned about preparing for Duke when you were working with Herb and talk about your time in North Carolina and what you remember about that.
COACH MILLER: It's a long time ago now. I've had the misfortunate or fortunate to be against the Duke team as an assistant or head coach, 15 or 16 times, the two times at Xavier, when Thad Matta was the head coach we lost to Duke in the Georgetown Dome in the Elite Eight. J.J. Reddick hit a great shot to propeled them to the Final Four.
But it was a game that when you played them you feel good about because there is so much effort required to play against Duke and there is a reason why they're always where they are. It's not just coaching and talent, to me they're the hardest playing team in the country.
You learn that when you play against them, and that's probably the starting point for us tomorrow night, and that is can we match their intensity and effort level, not for part of the game or not after the first four minutes when we get used to them, but from start to finish and to me that's our only chance and no matter who plays Duke that's what is required to be able to be in the game with them.
Q. Coach, there is some impressive company around you as far as the coaches in this bracket, seven national titles combined, is there a statement for Sean Miller to be made here?
COACH MILLER: No, I'm happy to be here, I really am. The program that I'm here with, Arizona, is not a newcomer to the Sweet 16. This is our 14th Sweet 16, if you can believe it or not, and we won our 12th Pac-10 regular season championship this year and when you look at the history and tradition under Coach Olson, players' teams, we take a back seat to nobody, I happen to be the coach right now, and we will see where we go. But we're 29-7, and we've come a long way since the fall, before the season began; and I think all of us are very proud of what we've accomplished. At the same time, we really want to make sure that we're at our best tomorrow night.
You don't know what the next time is coming that you sit here, and there is so much at stake being in the Elite Eight headed to a Final Four two games from now that your focus, I think, is on our own team being at our best.
Q. Sean, with the large amount of Arizona alumni in this area, you're expected to have a number of fans here tomorrow night. Do you anticipate that helping you on the court?
COACH MILLER: Yes, I do. This game being played here in California is a much different game played in New Jersey, and there has to be a sense of comfort.
We have a lot of players from the State of California, Williams, we practiced at his high school earlier; today he lives 15 minutes from this very arena, Kyle Fogg, 10 minutes from this arena, and the thing that I love about that is our players' families can be here.
It's not always easy in this tournament for them to travel. For our players and the team to have their family and friends here in an easier fashion is, I think, a great asset for us to play well, and anytime that you can have a crowd like I think we have a chance to have, that cannot hurt.
Once the jump ball goes up it's between Arizona and Duke and it's the players and that's where the problems start to arise because the team we're playing is obviously an exceptional team.
Q. I was wondering if you could talk about how you've been able to get the team and the program back to this level so quickly? What is it like competing in state against a coach that you used to work for?
COACH MILLER: I think I'm a week away from being at Arizona for 24 months as a new staff. It's been quite a whirlwind, very few days off and a lot of traveling. Anytime that you move your family from one area of the country to the next, it's more difficult than you realize until you go through it.
But we've been fortunate in our recruiting efforts, that most of the players that we've recruited have come in and Don a great job. We had a recruiting class of five in the spring when he got to Arizona, it's that dangerous time in the spring that you don't always know how that's going to work out because prospects sign early but the five that we have, if you look at our team today all are significant in their contributions and headlined by Derrick Williams and we were fortunate to add Mayes and Perry to that group and now you're talking about seven and Kyle Fogg and Jamelle Horne and Brendon Lavender and Alex Jacobson, those four guys who were at Arizona before we came in, their attitude has been great and they've contributed as well.
A lot of progress and hard work, you know, this fall as we moved into our season we didn't have a lot of goals other than to be better than we were a year ago and we had a lot of hungry players who had great off-seasons that translated from last year to this year and to me that's what's fueled our improvement more than anything.
Q. Coach, I wanted to ask you about Jamelle Horne, he started at the beginning of the year and he comes off the bench. Can you talk about how well he received that transition?
COACH MILLER: Jamelle Horne is a player that has gone through a lot at Arizona. Anytime you go through one coaching change it's very hard if you go through a second -- you are in the minority of players that deal with that -- and Jamelle has gone through three, and I don't know if that will always bring out the best in you.
The last two years Jamelle from an attitude perspective and growth as a player, as a person, he's made a lot of strides. Being our only senior on this year's team, not being a starter, his attitude has been exceptional; and he's in a key role for us. When he plays well, our team plays well. We've had a couple of huge games at Washington State, one comes to mind where he made huge shots that allowed us to win. He's an important part of of our team but I think the bigger part for him is his growth and in his consistent attitude this year. I think he's very, very grateful to be able to go out as a Pac-10 champion, and you look at what he's done his senior year, he's in the Sweet 16 and he should be commended for that.
Q. I was hoping you could speak to your impressions of what Duke is doing defensively in the tournament, and what are some of the things your players need to keep in mind to be successful?
COACH MILLER: Well, Duke -- I give them amazing credit for how hard they play. It is year-in, year-out, it's the faces that change but that level stays high and you're surprised at the opening tip, and it takes a few minutes to adjust to how hard they play defensively and the level of concentration that they bring to the table.
Part of our part tomorrow is to be able to handle that first wave, not that we have to be wing at the beginning of the game but not to get -- not being able to be knocked on your heels by them and be surprised by that effort level. Their defense takes you out of a lot of things and us being able to get good shots, not turn the ball over and function on offense is a big key as well. When you flip to the defensive end, it's unique to prepare for Duke because I don't know if there has been another situation where you have almost a No. 1 seed without a player that many people would say is their best player, and now he's back into the equation.
We've tried to look at them with Irving playing and without him, but defending their ball screens, defending their ability to drive the ball is a huge challenge on that end.
Q. Sean, I know you've got an appreciation of the history of the game of college basketball. What admiration have you had over Coach Mike Krzyzewski over the years?
COACH MILLER: I think I speak for all coaches. We all admire what he's done and to me one of the amazing accomplishments that he's put forth isn't Duke related it's what he's done with USA basketball and making that the "in" thing for some of the greatest players that play the game and watching him win the gold medal and creating a culture there in and of itself, that right there is as great of an accomplishment probably as you will admire in a coach.
What he's done at Duke speaks for itself and that's part of playing Duke is playing against a coach who has been there so many times that it's never to your advantage going against them in this tournament.
Q. Coach, I wanted to ask you about the performance and contribution that Jordin Mayes and Brendon Lavender gave you Sunday night, if that's unusual and if you could humor me who were the other guests on "The Tonight Show" when you appeared?
COACH MILLER: Brendon Lavender and Jordin Mayes, one of the things that's misunderstood about our team is Jamelle Horne has had such a great year and we appear to be a one-man team and you can't win 29 games and be where we're at if that's the case.
We are almost as unique as any team when you consider that on given nights the number of other players who have had huge games. Kyle Fogg in our last game in McKale against Oregon played great, he had 20 points. On that night you would probably say he was maybe our best player.
The other night against Texas it was Solomon Hill, like you mentioned, Jordin Mayes has played fantastic here over the last month and we can keep going on and on. Parrom off the bench had a career high 25 points in a game that we needed every point at Cal.
So we've played all 10 players and many games 11, we've never played less than 10, and those other 9 guys have taken turns contributing and it's our depth plus Derrick Williams that has gotten us to that point.
THE MODERATOR: The question The Tonight Show.
COACH MILLER: I can't go down that path. I have three kids that are older than me when I was on that show. I say Carson and they don't even know who he is. That was a long, long time ago.
Q. Derrick, how many family and friends do you expect to have at the game tomorrow?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: Honestly, I don't expect to have too many people there. The tickets are like $400. Not many people have that much money to have to spend on a 40-minute game, but a lot of people will be at a pizza place, someplace that has a lot of TVs, gather around and watch the game right there.
Q. So you weren't getting that much requests for tickets --
DERRICK WILLIAMS: I got a lot of requests for tickets, but it can't happen, only get a certain amount and that's basically for family only and my friends understand that, especially playing so close to home.
Q. Derrick, I was wondering if you could talk about the idea that you have a perimeter game as well as a down low game and how you view your skills being able to do both.
DERRICK WILLIAMS: I think that's why a lot of people have a tough time guarding me, the scouting report, just because I'm shooting so well from the 3, it's hard to have one person guard me. Having multiple people guard me, even different defenses, box and ones, it opens up everything for my teammates.
All eyes are basically on me, and it leaves Solomon and our shooters, Kyle Fogg and Brendon Lavender and even Jordin Mayes open, and it opens up everything for my teammates.
Q. Derrick, how was it practicing in your old gym? How did that feel? And Momo was saying in the locker room that when he first met you he talked trash to you because he thought you needed to be arrogant and confident, do you remember that?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: Going back to my high school brought back a lot of memories. My senior season we won the league championship and I think that was the best thing. That was the best thing my school has had basketball wise, first time since '82 that we had a league championship, so that brought back good memories, CIF and finals.
When I first got here I wasn't too aggressive. I was just trying to find my way. I wasn't really aggressive on the offensive end, certain things that he said to me can't really be said right now. Other than that, you know, couple of things that he was saying to me just really spark and added fuel to the fire and made me aggressive. He knew I can jump. I can shoot and that's all. He wanted me to play more aggressive and be more confident in myself.
Q. Kyle, can you speak to the match-up going against Smith and particularly on the guys when they're on defense and what you need to do to be successful?
KYLE FOGG: Duke's guards are some of the best in the country. Especially defensively they get after the ball and try and pressure you and try not to let you pass the ball to the open man. We're just real excited to play against them tomorrow. They're a great team and we'll focus on the game tomorrow, try and get the win.
Q. Kyle, how different is Duke with Irving in the back court?
KYLE FOGG: I think he helps their team a lot and I guess he's exported to play a lot -- expected to play a lot tomorrow and we've gone over situations where he's in the game and when he's not so we should be ready to play tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Do you guys want to talk about playing logically in the area?
SOLOMON HILL: I told the Coach when we played in the Pac-10 championship, doesn't matter where we are, I try to get the vibe out of my head and focus on the game, because last time we thought it was a home come and go we ended up taking two losses to UCLA and to USC, and I try and focus and get away from the family feeling. But if I see my family at the game that's fine but I'm worried about the game at hand.
KYLE FOGG: It's good to be home but we're here for business right now and we've got to focus on the game tomorrow and I think the past trips to L.A. we have been and we should be focused tomorrow.
Q. Derrick, you mentioned earlier that you probably weren't as aggressive as you would like early in your career and now it seems that you shine at big moments. How does a guy go from being shy to a guy who can handle those moments?
DERRICK WILLIAMS: Just my teammates coming to me and telling me to be aggressive and confident wherever you're at on the court, the free-throw line or shooting threes or attacking the basket. I have struggled this season when I have ride to take over the game, and my teammates were there to pick me up, especially in the Texas game, Solomon helped me out a lot especially down low, even on the boards, not necessarily on the offensive end or in the first half he did great on the offensive end.
It came down to rebounding, and whenever I couldn't get the offensive rebound or the defensive rebound my teammates were there to help me since I was struggling in that game, I didn't shoot well from the floor, I shot 4 of 14, so my teammates helped me out and told me to be confident and not to get frustrated like I did in L.A. when we lost to UCLA and USC, so everybody helping me out.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much.
Miller, Players Wednesday Transcript
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