When discussing UCLA this week, Sean Miller used the Bruins as an example of how strong he believes the Pac-12 is.
“We respect UCLA a great deal, not only this team, but their program in general,” Miller said.
“This year it has been very well documented that we have a terrific conference from top to bottom and whoever finishes at the bottom is going to be a very good basketball team. Whoever finishes at the top is going to be an incredible team.”
Although UCLA has lost its first two Pac-12 games of the season, Miller isn’t counting out the Bruins.
“I look at UCLA as one of five or six teams in our conference right now that have the ability to win our regular season championship,” Miller said. “I think early in conference play you can’t get too high or too low on the results because each of us are in different situations.
“In their case, the Washington game could have gone either way and Washington State is always a difficult venue to play in. I am sure like every team with the home stand they want to be at their best and they have the capability of being a great team.”
Much of UCLA’s success revolves around the play of its backcourt.
“Their backcourt of Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton is a terrific tandem,” Miller said. “Both guys continue to grow as players.
“I don't believe Bryce Alford gets enough credit for that he does on the court. I think sometimes because his dad is the coach, people temper the praise of how outstanding a player he really is.
“Put him in a different uniform or different school and he is playing the same way I think he would go in the category of among the nation’s best guards. That is certainly how we feel about him.”
With that being said, UCLA’s frontcourt with Tony Parker and Thomas Welsh is formidable as well.
“The one statistic that really stands out for me is the same one that stood out before ASU,” Miller said. “As good of an offensive rebounding team that ASU is, UCLA is even better.
“They do it in a different way. UCLA does it with two more traditional post players and they combine for almost eight offensive rebounds per game.
“You look at that part of their offense, that is something where whoever plays UCLA is going to try to do a great job of taking as much of that away as you can.
“If they do that against us, it will be a hard night. We have to do a better job of keeping those guys and the rest of the team off the glass.”