The Wildcats will face Seattle Pacific University in an exhibition game on Thursday evening and it will be the first time the 2011-2012 Wildcats will be on the same bench vying for a win. Head coach Sean Miller addressed the media Tuesday and said what he will be looking for come Thursday.
"With this year's team, knowing that we lost some experience and welcome in four new freshmen, we thought it was better to play two quality Division II teams than maybe to choose one quality scrimmage," said Miller. "Seattle Pacific traditionally has been very strong and very competitive and I know in their own right they have been very successful.
"Knowing who they are, we wanted to bring them in knowing they would give us a challenge and probably teach us a lot. It will allow our players to get out there in front of a crowd for a second time."
Bringing in quality opponents from the onset will be important for Arizona to help get better across the board.
"We have to get better at all aspects right now," explained Miller. "It is just way too early to have one thing that you are good at and one thing that you are bad at. It is just a matter of us developing, comprehending being good on offense and being good on defense."
Right after the Red-Blue scrimmage, Miller said that he thought that the only two definite starters at that point were Kyle Fogg and Solomon Hill due to their experience and production. That still remains the case but Miller said Tuesday that he could have added Jesse Perry in there as well.
Perry played particularly well during the scrimmage and Miller says he is pleased with where he is at this point.
"Jesse has done everything we have asked of him," said Miller. "If you look at his size, he's still not a very big guy, but he is ten pounds heavier than he was last year. Big time difference coaching Jesse this go around than a year ago. He was basically a freshman even though he was a junior college transfer and he made his fair share of mistakes.
"If you remember Jesse's improvement, he really hit his stride in and around Christmas. He struggled some when our conference season began but in February and March, like a lot of things that went our way, his continued improvement and development was a big reason why we were the Pac-10 champs."
For Thursday, Miller and his coaching staff still have not made the decision on who will start at the point guard position or at center. Josiah Turner and Jordin Mayes are in a battle for the floor general while Kyryl Natyzahko and Sidiki Johnson are fighting for who will be the starting center.
"There are a lot of even battles throughout our team," said Miller. "Even though you know more each week, we have a lot of guys fighting for minutes right now. Playing against Seattle Pacific, playing in front of a crowd, everyone on our own bench for the first time continue to give us more information."
It is a testament to the incoming freshman class that they are already competing for starting spots despite not having any game experience at the college level. This is the point where you tend to see freshmen struggle due to the fact that practices are harder and the game is faster.
Miller knows that the exhibition game on Thursday will be important for all four freshmen who are ready to really get the ball rolling.
"When you look at these four freshmen it is tough to judge them on a starting point because with a good attitude and health, all of them will continue to get better," explained Miller. "It would not surprise me if the roles they start out having isn't the same role and they have a bigger role later on in the year.
"Those guys are all trying to improve and they are all trying to carve out a role on our team. Treating them the same as all the other guys makes sense. We all know that this is a ‘first time for everything' for a freshman."
Note: Senior Alex Jacobson has been having issues with his back and has only practiced two or three times since official practices started, according to Miller. He will be out on Thursday and then be re-evaluated next week.