Miller hopes Arizona learns from loss

Sean Miller did not downplay Arizona's loss on Thursday, but does feel that the team got better and learned a lot. Read on to see what else Miller had to say about the game.

Sean Miller would be lying if he told you that he didn't see this one coming. After all, he knew that taking on a Seattle Pacific team that went 20-10 in the 2010-11 season wouldn't be an easy challenge for his young team. Turns out he was right, as UA dropped its exhibition opener 69-68 to SPU on Thursday night.

"Before we started the season, one of the things we really wanted to do was challenge ourselves in exhibition games," Miller said. "Both Seattle Pacific and Humboldt State, we wanted to schedule them so that we could really have a rep of how college basketball is knowing they're very well coached, good teams, experienced teams. We lost tonight to the best team, they're a better team than us."

However, Miller isn't ready to press the panic button just yet.

"It's October," he said. "If we won by five or lost by 10 or lost by one or won by one, one of the things that's really important for our team to understand is that we practiced 11 times," Miller said. "I would say we have had five or six out of the 11 that I would say were good practices. The other five or six were learning how to play hard.

"We're trying to bring in four freshmen to a group, a group that although a lot of returners, they have a lot of new rules and bigger pressure. Although we have a lot of returners, they're in different roles and you can feel that, we're not a very good basketball team right now.

"The one good thing that I feel about tonight is, we really got better. It's going to give us a chance to learn more about our team and put the best players on the court. I'd like to think we could have some spirited practices and be better as we enter next week. Am I happy we lost? No. I do know tonight taught us a lot and it'll be interesting to see how we go from there."

In fact, back when he was running the point guard position at Pittsburgh, Miller remembers a Big East foe that had a tough time in exhibition games that was able to turn it around when it counted most.

"I don't use this as an excuse, but I go all the way back to when I played at Pitt, I remember Georgetown would make deep runs in the tournament and they'd win the Big East Championship and they'd lose in exhibition games," Miller said. "Something like this shows you what you need to get better at, and we need to get a lot better. This is a rough beginning for us, but I know we can use this to our advantage and get better."

With a team clearly missing former Pac-10 Player of the Year Derrick Williams as its leader and go-to guy, Miller knows that this year's squad and coaching staff still have a lot of things to figure out.

"It takes time, you can see we don't have the roles down," Miller said. "I would say we don't have enough information as a coaching staff to truly know who deserves to play. Tonight, I look at our five position and I think we had one defensive rebound. It's hard to win when you have one defensive rebound from the five. I ask myself, can Angelo Chol help us there? Before tonight I wasn't too sure."

The Wildcats were without one of their best players for the exhibition, as Kevin Parrom continues to nurse a leg injury. In his postgame comments, Miller made it very clear just how important the junior is to the team.

"We miss Kevin Parrom, I talked about that the past month," Miller said. "He's a veteran, he's a physical defender, someone that can score on offense and rebound on defense. Hopefully down the road we can get him back, I think it'll be important that we do."

For Miller's young team, the game came down to a matter of decision-making, something the UA head coach wishes he had more time to develop in practice before playing the team's first exhibition game.

"We had a lot of young players making bad decisions," Miller said. "Not just young players; we just weren't very good. This is the first time that a team I've been a part of has played a game in October. I wish we could've practiced six or seven more times.

"One of the reasons we played the game tonight is we start really early. It's scary to think that in nine or 10 days we're opening up and we're playing two games in three days. We need to get a lot better in that period of time, and we'll work hard to do that."

Despite the reduced amount of practice time before tipping off the season, Miller recognizes the fact that his team just isn't where it needs to be at this point in the season, but knows it's work hard to improve.

"I wish I could say I'm going to throw a bunch of things around the room and our guys are going to cry, but we're just not a very good team right now," Miller said. "We aren't, we just aren't a very good team. We have to getter better, we have to learn how to practice.

"We're at such the beginning of being able to play the game, I wish we could've practiced five to seven more times before we played tonight, I'm sure we would've had a better chance to be successful. With our team this year, it would benefit us to start the season a little later, but that's not in the cards.

"It's a matter of where do we go from here, how much better we get. We'll work hard to do that."

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