Wildcats keep character despite hostility

Attention has been placed on opposing fans with the recent Marcus Smart incident. Read on to see how Arizona approaches similar situations and more.

With the recent situation with Marcus Smart pushing a fan at Texas Tech and an Oregon coach getting spit on by an Arizona State fan, interaction between teams and fans have gotten more attention.

For Arizona coach Sean Miller, the way his players and coaches react falls in line with how they are supposed to carry themselves every day.

"We have a slogan here that we talk about a lot and we talk about it year in and year out and it is called ‘All in," Miller said. "With 'All in' there is a code of ethics and a responsibility that you have in place to be a member of our basketball program, not just team.

"As you grow inside of our program and become an upperclassman, someone like a Nick Johnson, you learn to embody those qualities and you learn when you see teammates make mistakes or people make mistakes on the outside, I think you are reminded by the fact that it is the culture of our program that we try to live by."

The key to not getting in trouble in hostile environments is the ability to block others out and focus on the task at hand.

"Part of it is when you go on the road you only have each other, you rely on each other and it is about the task at hand," Miller said. "You really have to block everything out, whether it is the criticism, the noise level, sometimes maybe a call you don't agree with inside the game, and you have to stick to that systematic approach that we have prepared from day one for this opportunity and what's going to make us successful is to not be distracted by anything that we can't control."

Nick Johnson says that he has heard plenty of negativity from opposing fans and handling it is based on responsibility.

"Pretty much every player has been through some sort of thing like that," Johnson said. "Basically, it just comes down to being responsible. You have to know you are representing your program, the University of Arizona, your team, all your teammates and pretty much your family. You just have to hold back and come to a calm really."

Freshman Elliott Pitts agrees, as it goes back to the ability of just being able to ignore the hostile surroundings.

"In games I just try to tune them out," Pitts said. "There's always going to be at least one fan that is trying to get in your head. It depends on the situation. If you can really tune them out, that is going to help obviously. When I am playing, it is just easy for me to focus more on the game and less on the fans."

Miller remembers hearing from opposing fans when he was a player at Pittsburgh, but believes there is one major difference.

"All the time, but I think back then there wasn't as much publicity surrounding it," he said. "Today part of what I think you deal with is the moment something happens it's seen by the world almost immediately.

"A lot of the incidents back then would happen and it would be very difficult to recall it or have any proof that it happened. That's the world of sports, we all learn how to deal with it as we grow and get older."


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