Miller looking to pick up pace

Sean Miller is preparing Arizona for Saturday's rivalry game, but is also looking at the bigger picture. Read on to see what he says about the offense, Arizona's size, and more.

Sean Miller and his Arizona squad are preparing to play Arizona State on Saturday, as the Wildcats enter the game as large favorites. With the Wildcats only having to focus on one game this week, Miller says that practice has gone well.

"Practice has been good," Miller said. "Any time you come off the holidays, that first practice is always a difficult one. You have guys that are traveling, Jesse Perry for example from St. Louis, but everybody made it back on time and we have had an opportunity to practice three consecutive days and as much as anything the focus has been able to be on us without a game today, Thursday. We tried to take advantage of it, to get better at the things we need to get better at as a team."

Miller has focused on increasing Arizona's tempo in order to get more easy buckets and increase its offensive efficiency.

"Our team is going to be better offensively if we have a chance to get some easy baskets," he said. "Layups, open threes, that doesn't mean we are trying to shoot the ball within the first few seconds of the clock as much as I think when you watch us play you should see a pace. You want to watch us kind of move fast into our halfcourt offense. It makes no sense for us to do it the other way. We are not physically big, huge and strong and that is not really the way that we want to play."

One of the reasons that Arizona is choosing to speed up rather than slow down is because Miller realizes one of Arizona's weaknesses is its size up front.

"Our lack of size is a problem," Miller said. "It is not an easy solution, but there are things that we can do as a team to try to be better. Not let the ball get in the post, when it gets in there being harder to score against and when a shot goes up be a better defensive rebounding team.

"I think that has really been the big focus, playing with pace, rebounding the ball better, and being well aware of the fact teams are going to try to take advantage of us around the basket and we have to be smart and execute our defense when that is in place."

Arizona's offense will get a unique test against an Arizona State defense that tries to force opponents to slow down and play to its pace.

"ASU's zone defense makes you show patience," Miller said. "Some of our best possessions in the past have required 8, 10, 12 passes. That may seem like a lot, but there are different styles that you go against and their zone is one that patience is required. If you have an early, good shot we want to take it, but we have to move the ball and while you move it, you can't turn it over and you have to make good decisions.

"Every team that plays against that type of zone has to execute some form of patience, but before we get to the patience we want to go fast into our offense and give ourselves every chance we can to get easy baskets first and once we are in the half court we will move from there."

While Miller recognizes Saturday as a rivalry game, he also believes that it is important for the simple fact that it is within the conference, which he believes is a key component of a rivalry.

"I think if both teams are in the same conference, there is just so much more at stake," he said. "Whether you want to make this game bigger or smaller or however you want to play it, it is a conference game. Any time you play a home conference game, if it is Oregon State, Oregon, Arizona State, we only get nine of them and we want to be at our very best at home.

"I recognize that this is a huge game for our fans, our former players, our team, and we want to be ready. I think the way you make them proud is by giving great effort, being prepared, and making sure we are at our best in the game. Rivalries are always better when both teams can win and both teams are successful in their own right."

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