1/20 Basketball Notebook

Arizona head coach Sean Miller met with the media on Monday. Read on for numerous notes on what he had to say about Brandon Ashley, team defense, and more.

Arizona head coach Sean Miller met with the media on Monday and discusses numerous topics.

  • Brandon Ashley has improved tremendously from last season and Miller believes that a lot of that has to do with his attitude,

    "Brandon Ashley is a more mature person off the court and in the practice setting," Miller said. "He is also a more mature player in the games. Brandon came to college as a really young guy. He was 18 years old and is 19 now. He has made, in my estimation, leaps and bounds worth of improvement.

    "Whether it is on defense, whether it is on offense, whether it be physically where you look at him and he is bigger, stronger, and faster. I have really always felt that the players that are on that rise tend to improve a lot from their first year to their second, especially if they had a role in their first year. He's worked very hard, he knows what it takes, he's smarter, and he is a better player."

  • One of the main reasons why Arizona has been so successful this season is because Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were able to quickly adjust defensively.

    "In college everything is faster," Miller said. "The speed of the game is faster and screen in college don't represent the screens they have seen prior to coming here. When you have somebody that is 6-foot-9, 240 pounds, is 21 years old, been in a couple of hundred practices, playing for a good coach, and it is game time, he knows what to do and how to do it. As a young player, the speed of the game, the size of the players, and now all of a sudden the structure of the other team, you haven't seen it before. They don't have repetitions. It's not easy to adapt to it.

    "Rondae and Aaron came to Arizona almost further along as defensive players than they were as offensive players, so that has definitely helped our defense because both of them are versatile and unlike a lot of freshmen, they are more ready."

  • People may forget sometimes, but Arizona got off to one of the best starts in the country last season as well, although it took a bad turn. This season, Miller is relatively confident that history won't repeat itself.

    "I think a year ago we had almost the perfect lesson plan, because I think a year ago at this time maybe we had one loss," Miller said. "It wasn't like we were 12-10 at this point. We were around the same point a year ago. I don't want to say we lost it, but we certainly didn't play as good of basketball over the next four to six weeks.

    "That doesn't mean the same thing isn't going to happen this year, but I believe our approach is different. The daily grind isn't as much of a grind because I think we have a number of players that have been here and done this before. A year ago once in a while we had to kind of force it on them and beg them and direct them through that. When you do that, that pretty much means they can't do that by themselves. This year's team is more focused without the coach being around."

  • In addition, the coaching staff has taken the approach of having a little less leniency when it comes to defensive performance.

    "There were times when I think we kind of played through mistakes defensively and really allowed a few things as you allow players to play, whether it is lack of concentration, lack of execution, or effort," Miller said. "It starts to become the way as opposed to getting better at it.

    "This year we are more aware when that happens that we are going to correct it right then and there, whether that means less playing time or a change, that is what we will do. The bigger picture is that we have to back up what we talk about, which is that we want to be an outstanding team. "

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