Arizona faced with tough matchup

Sean Miller met with the media on Sunday to discuss Arizona's first round matchup. Read on for his thoughts on Belmont, how Arizona will approach it, and more.

Although Arizona will be favored in Thursday's matchup against Belmont in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, it certainly does not mean the game will be easy.

Belmont will challenge the Wildcats in numerous ways, especially with the way that it is able to shoot the ball.

"When I faced Belmont before, they really value shooting and they generally can shoot (well) with more than their perimeter players," Arizona head coach Sean Miller said. "Their front court players can really shoot the ball and put you in those compromising positions and it's really what I said since October, it's so important to defend the three-point shot."

In fact, Miller has been stressing Arizona's three-point defense all season and it will be under the spotlight against Belmont.

"It's something that at times during the season, we've started to improve and it's been well-documented," Miller said. "At times, it's done us in and the monster we're dealing with in the opening round of the NCAA tournament is that very thing.

"That doesn't mean we can't do it, that doesn't mean we will do it, but playing Belmont, every coach looks at their ability to shoot and it's scary. We have to do a good job in that area like how any team plays them."

Belmont may be talented on offense, but Miller also feels that the Bruins can pose problems with their aggressive defense.

"If you look at Belmont's statistics, and we're only beginning to look at them," he said. "They really turn you over. They are one of the teams in this country that are really able to turn you over by pressing and using quickness.

"If you think about the other component, their ability to shoot the three at four and five spots, your turnovers can lead to threes and easy baskets, that's something that UCLA was good at. Hopefully, learning the value of taking care of the ball can help us here."

With it being the week of the tournament, Miller will take the approach of making sure that everything moves on as normal.

"From a coaching standpoint, you have to try to keep things as normal as possible," he said. "I don't think you want your players or your team to approach this game as if every shot is life or death or every dribble leading up to the game is more intense than it has ever been.

"If anything, you want them to settle into the norm and that's one of the reasons why we try to keep the intensity throughout the season, because if it is always up then you don't need to increase the intensity to be ready. What I hope in these next couple days is to have a team that is relaxed, confident and excited, but understands how hard you have to play."

Miller admits that the way the UCLA game ended serves as motivation, but is quick to point to his players as the true motivation for wanting to advance.

"Our players don't have to go very far to figure out that I care a lot about them," Miller said. "I see guys like Solomon [Hill], Mark [Lyons], and Kevin [Parrom], who are one loss away to end their collegiate careers. It is the greatest motivating factor for any team and coach. The further that we can take them and they can take ourselves; that is what this is about.

"March isn't about the coach, a game; it's about the players. It's about the players that know deep down, that they will never put on a uniform again for the University of Arizona. It's our responsibility is to protect those guys and develop them and hope their careers stay as long as they can go. There is a lot of emotion attached to that and we know."


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