Arizona's intelligence paying dividends

Arizona's intelligence continues to help it remain undefeated. Read on to see what Sean Miller says about those smarts, the Wildcats' feel for the game, and more.

When Sean Miller talks about his team, he is quick to point to its overall intelligence as one of its strengths.

That intelligence starts with junior Nick Johnson, who Miller speaks highly of.

"We have a team that is smart," Miller said. "Nick in particular is maybe the smartest kid that I have ever coached. You can't comprehend how difficult it is to play three positions in one game. He does that for us every game, so his responsibilities are almost as if he can think through five positions out there.

"Defensively, the number of very good players he has to guard and what it takes to be good on both offense and defense, he's a really gifted basketball I.Q. guy."

Johnson is also helped by the fact that he is playing with a point guard that makes the right decision more often than not.

"T.J. has a great feel for it as well," Miller said. "I think what T.J. has more than anything is that great passion to win.

"He doesn't get caught up necessarily in his points per game, although sometimes he is very hard on himself when things don't go well or if he makes mistakes. He's also a very intelligent player."

It's not just the overall intelligence that helps Arizona, but the unselfishness as well.

"I think a lot of coaches view our team as being an unselfish team," Miller said. "All coaches respect that. I know I respect that a great deal when I watch teams in our conference play and some of us have more talent than others, some of us have more experience.

"There are some teams that are guard heavy and yet they don't have maybe a front line or vice versa, but what you really respect is a group of kids and a team that's really, you could tell is making the extra pass and playing to win.

"That is something we have had on our side in a positive way for a long time and I think people in general have brought that up to me, which I always share with our team because that is something you want to keep all the way until your last game."

One of the key aspects to the unselfishness is the fact that the incoming freshmen came in with the same attitude.

"We knew the players that were coming back and I thought all of those guys were going to be hungry to win and understanding the importance of being together," Miller said.

"The new guys are the guys you have to blend in and I think I said this as far back as September, one of the great qualities of Rondae, Aaron, and Elliott is that those guys have come here in a very humble and hungry way and they are also very talented. They have been easy to blend in to a team setting."

So where does that all start?

"One of the common themes with a lot of players is that they have come from really good high school and travel team backgrounds where they have played in pressure tournaments," Miller said.

"They have played against great competition, they have been coached, they have been in highly competitive environments before they even got to Arizona, so they know what it takes to win, how hard it is, the practice, what it feels like to lose. We have a number of players in our program like that."


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