Arizona not taking Harvard lightly

Arizona is set to face Harvard on Saturday. Read on for Sean Miller's thoughts on Arizona's opponent, his own team's mentality, and more.

Arizona will play Harvard on Saturday and the general theme of Friday's press conference was the amount of respect that Arizona head coach Sean Miller has for their program.

"Tommy, whether he's a player at Duke and what he did at Seton Hall and watching him at Michigan and now Harvard, he's an excellent coach, terrific recruiter," Miller said. "I think he has a great staff. Us out in the west, in particular, he does a great job of recruiting in the west.

"Some of his key players come from the state of California. He deserves, as does his staff, tremendous credit for being here, and we respect him a great deal."

Before Arizona's opening game, many believed that the Wildcats would fall victim to the upset. According to Miller, that helped Arizona remained focus and will have the same effect for Saturday's game as well.

"That's the whole key in this tournament," Miller said. "One of the things that helped us leading into Belmont is so many people talked about Belmont upsetting us. No matter how much you say block out the outside, at this time of the year it's impossible. To me, our players were very aware of Belmont's strengths, came into the game and I thought executed what we wanted to do very well.

"It was a function of their great respect for Belmont. The only thing you have to do looking at Harvard, is knowing that they went to Cal and won. Cal is a great team, as you know. They're in this tournament. They've won a game. To win at Cal is a tough task especially for someone traveling across the country. They left that day and went to Saint Mary's and lost at the buzzer in a 1 point game."

Although each team has its seed, Miller believes that the tournament is much more than that and seeds have to be ignored.

"This isn't about anything," he said. "No seed matters. It's about Arizona being at its very best, doing the things we do the best we can, being ready to go, knowing that we have to play a great game. If anything happens less than that, we're going to go home."

Saturday will be the second consecutive game in which Arizona has a major size advantage, but Harvard's front court has its own positive qualities as well.

"New Mexico really went at them inside, low post catches, seemed like every possession, especially in the first half," Miller said. "The ball went in there, and you could tell that was New Mexico's game plan.

"To me, Harvard's big guys are somewhat misrepresented. To me, they're more physical, they scored on their own end and did a really good job with very little help. It wasn't as if they were trapping the post, playing zone, sagging off a player. They played New Mexico's front court guys head up, and they did a really good job."

In fact, Miller compared Harvard to a familiar Pac-12 team in terms of how it plays on offense and the personnel it uses.

"The other thing that stood out is, they're very unselfish, and they're very deliberate and patient," he said. "They move the ball. If you ask me what team in our conference they remind me of, they remained me a little bit of Arizona State, because Arizona State has a 4 out, 1 in look and they play very well together.

"They have a point guard that can really break the defense down using ball screens. They're a team that plays good defense and good offense, and I believe that when we look at us against Arizona State, just in terms of how Arizona State plays the game, I see a lot of Harvard in them."

Arizona may be considered the favorite, but Miller believes that Arizona's focus will be mostly on its own execution and motivation will not be a factor.

"We know we're in for a fight, especially the confidence that they have," Miller said. "When you win a game like that, it doesn't just all of the sudden leave you, many times it carries through for the rest of the weekend.

"For us, it's not about being consumed with Harvard, as much as it is about being consumed with ourselves, making sure that we're ready to go. We're playing for a berth in the Sweet 16. If one of our players needs motivation other than that, then we have real problems because when you're at the level that we're at it's about staying in this tournament as long as you can. We know we have a great opportunity here on Saturday."

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