Arizona focusing on maintaining chemistry

Sean Miller met with the media on Monday to discuss team chemistry, the schedule so far, and more. Read on for all the latest.

Arizona is headed into Pac-12 play and with the Wildcats' record at 12-0, Arizona's head coach believes that the Wildcats got plenty accomplished in the out of conference schedule.

"I think if you look at the strength of our schedule, we did a number of things, one of which is we played five games away from home," Sean Miller said. "Any time you go on a neutral court and beat a team like San Diego State, one of the games that we played in McKale to me was one of the best non-conference games of the season for all of basketball and that was our Florida game and that was a hard-fought victory.

"We also played a number of teams that their name may not create the respect, but I think when you watch them perform in their own conference in the months of January and February, they are going to do very well and you are already starting to see that with some of those teams."

Looking back at the early season schedule, Miller is happy with the way that it all played out due in large part to its ability to prepare Arizona for the rest of the season.

"I like what we did," Miller said. "Number one, we gained a lot of confidence in ourselves. We also faced a number of different styles. We played against a lot of zone, played against different types of man to man, we played against bigger front lines, and we've been forced to guard front lines who are really skilled and can take us away from the basket.

"I think it was a good learning experience and I think from our team's perspective and our program, any time you can be 12-0 is a heck of a statement. It is not easy to do."

Now with the Pac-12 season starting, much of Miller's focus will be on making sure everything within the team goes smoothly.

"It is always a work in progress," Miller says of team chemistry. "You can have a team that is really unselfish and cares about each other. It is always easier to do when the results are 12-0. You learn more when you lose one. That is not our goal, we want to keep winning, but the longer the college season goes, the more team dynamics become a factor.

"It is easier, or not as easy for example, to not play a lot as the season grows. It is harder to continue to practice in a competitive way in the months of January and February. That shine has worn off. We're not there yet. I am sure like every team we're going to have our ups and downs with that, but I can only go on what our team has done so far. Our chemistry has been very good. No question it is one of the reasons that we are off to a very good start."

Miller believes that it is natural for a player to start looking at certain aspects of his season as it wears on.

"It's not easy to lace them up in practice every day," he said. "Players tend to think more about the game and less about practice. You worry sometimes about how many points you are scoring, how you are playing individually as opposed to what is happening with the team and sometimes guys can really get caught up in their own world. I am only bringing that up because that is a real focus for us moving forward. That has not been a problem for us up until this point.

"One concern I have is the unknown of our chemistry continuing to be very good and our practice habits continuing to be very good where we don't lose sight of what got us to where we are at. I don't think things are nearly as good as they seem, but you can flip it when adversity strikes it won't be nearly as bad. There is so much parity not only in basketball right now, but especially in our conference. I believe that on any given night a team can beat us and we have to make sure we earn our victories."

Although much of Arizona's focus is on maintaining the chemistry it has, Miller wanted to make sure that people realize the Wildcats are doing just fine in that regard.

"We have had no issues with our team chemistry," he said. "As a matter of fact, our work ethic and team chemistry have been excellent, but we are at the beginning of the new year. We have not played one conference game yet, things have gone really smooth for us, and I think every coach and staff have your fingers crossed and it is a work in progress continuing to be that unselfish, hard-working team that we have been through the first couple minutes of the season.

"There is not a guarantee that we will be that from now until the end. It becomes increasingly more difficult and that is the challenge we have to embrace because for us to be the best team we can be and reach some lofty goals, we have to improve on some of the things that I have pointed to."


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