Sean Miller may believe that this year’s team has moved on from the first round loss to Wichita State, but he still acknowledges that it acts as motivation for some.
“We had our moments and we pulled up short,” Miller said. “Whether it was losing in the first round of the tournament or a couple of possessions away from maybe bigger things.
“All of those that experienced last season I think came back to this year hungrier to not want to do that and to try to be better and be the reason this year’s team takes the next step.”
It did not take long for Miller and Parker Jackson-Cartwright to set goals for the upcoming season.
“We met right after the Wichita State game,” Miller said. “He is halfway through his career and a big part of last year’s team.
“We mapped out the things we wanted him to do and that he wanted form the program. He has held his end of the bargain up. He’s bigger, he’s stronger, I have never seen him more confident.”
Jackson-Cartwright is one of the more experienced members of the team and Miller believes that will be beneficial.
“It is a reminder for me as a coach that when you’re in a program for more than one season and all of a sudden two, there is nothing like experience and coming back for your third year,” he said.
“I think some of the things Parker learned as a freshman and sophomore, he will implement this year. I am really excited about watching him play and I think he will have a really good year this year.”
There is some hope that Jackson-Cartwright will also improve from being pushed by freshman Kobi Simmons, but Miller won’t necessarily choose one over the other.
“It’s not an either or relationship,” Miller said. “Those guys will play a lot together. For me as a coach, for our staff, the challenge is to always put your best team and deepest group out there.
“You think about our guards, being able to get them on the court together is what we have to do. Last year we thought we would have a deep group and some things happened and the next thing you know you’re not as deep as you once were.
“The depth on the perimeter is one of this year’s team strengths and we have to be able to utilize that and bring that out in our group.”