Miller breaks down Mount St. Mary's

Arizona will be heavily favored on Friday night, but Mount St. Mary's poses some unique challenges. Read on to see what those are and more.

Arizona's season opener will be against Mount St. Mary's and although the Wildcats are the clear favorite, Sean Miller has plenty of respect for their opponent.

"Mount St. Mary’s is a very well coached team," Miller said. "They were in the tournament a year ago. They have a really true system on offense and defense, very organized, and they will challenge us in a number of ways."

Offensively, the Mountaineers will likely put up plenty of three-pointers.

"I think the first part of Mount St. Mary’s is on offense where they shoot a lot of three-point shots," Miller said. "They are a very dangerous team because if you shoot as many as they shoot and you have a method to doing it, you’re capable of having that big night.

"Especially at the four position, they almost play a small forward or sometimes almost like a two guard at the four. They challenge you at four spots from the three-point line, maybe even five spots at times. Our defense is going to be tested."

On the other side of the ball, Mount St. Mary's will show Arizona numerous different looks.

"Defensively it is not as much whether they press or not, but they change," Miller said. "They have the ability to play multiple zones, to be aggressive in their zones. They can pick you up full court, they can pick you up full court and trap. It tests your ball handling, your togetherness.

"Many times it is not about running a set play against them as much as five players doing what they are supposed to do and breaking pressure, attacking pressure, taking good shots. No doubt that will test us, but the tests are over. We’re playing to win and there’s no more tests."

One of the most important aspects of facing Mount St. Mary's is that it will likely not be a squad that hurts Arizona's RPI in any way.

"We don’t want to take a hit in any game we play," Miller said. "I think you can avoid it. You can’t always control it. Sometimes teams get injured and because of that they don’t have the season you thought they were going to have.

"Some of this is predicting, but we knew Mount St. Mary’s was an excellent program, especially within their own conference."

Although this is the season opener, it will be the first of three games in six days for the Wildcats.

"We wanted to play three games before we got to Maui," Miller said. "We looked at that as giving ourselves not only the best chance to be as ready as we can for Maui, but also it evens out and spreads our schedule out so we don’t get caught maybe in December playing two or three games in a week before final exams or closer to Christmas.

"I know a lot of coaches in our conference tend to play that one game after Christmas. We have decided not to do that. I like how that works. I think it allows us to have a true Christmas break and then the focus is on the Pac-12 when we return."


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