ANAHEIM, Calif. — Arizona head coach Sean Miller and a few members of the Wildcats’ squad addressed the media at the Honda Center yesterday. Here are some of the highlights from the press conference:
Miller on Duke:
“There is so much effort required to play against Duke and there is a reason why they’re always where they are. It’s not just coaching and talent, to me they’re the hardest playing team in the country. You learn that when you play against them, and that’s probably the starting point for us tomorrow night…. Can we match their intensity and effort level? Not for part of the game or not after the first four minutes when we get used to them, but from start to finish. To me that’s our only chance, and no matter who plays Duke that’s what is required to be able to be in the game with them.”
“Well, Duke—I give them amazing credit for how hard they play. It is year-in, year-out. It’s the faces that change but that level stays high and you’re surprised at the opening tip, and it takes a few minutes to adjust to how hard they play defensively and the level of concentration that they bring to the table. Tomorrow [we need] to be able to handle that first wave, not that we have to be winning at the beginning of the game but not to get…not being able to be knocked on your heels by them and be surprised by that effort level. Their defense takes you out of a lot of things and us being able to get good shots, not turn the ball over and function on offense is a big key as well.”
Miller on whether he thinks the location of the game will be a factor:
“Yes, I do. This game being played here in California is a much different game played in New Jersey, and there has to be a sense of comfort. We have a lot of players from the state of California—Williams, we practiced at his high school earlier today; he lives 15 minutes from this very arena; Kyle Fogg, 10 minutes from this arena. And the thing that I love about that is our players’ families can be here. It’s not always easy in this tournament for them to travel. For our players and the team to have their family and friends here in an easier fashion is, I think, a great asset for us to play well. And anytime that you can have a crowd like I think we have a chance to have, that cannot hurt. Once the jump ball goes up, it’s between Arizona and Duke and it’s the players, and that’s where the problems start to arise because the team we’re playing is obviously an exceptional team.”
Derrick Williams, a native of nearby La Mirada, Calif., on how many friends and family members he expects to attend tonight’s game:
Honestly, I don’t expect to have too many people there. The tickets are like $400. Not many people have that much money to have to spend on a 40-minute game, but a lot of people will be at a pizza place, someplace that has a lot of TVs, gather around and watch the game right there.
Williams on his ability to score both inside and from the perimeter:
I think that’s why a lot of people have a tough time guarding me. Just because I’m shooting so well from the 3, it’s hard to have one person guard me. Having multiple people guard me, even different defenses, box and ones, it opens up everything for my teammates. All eyes are basically on me, and it leaves Solomon [Hill] and our shooters—Kyle Fogg and Brendon Lavender and even Jordin Mayes—open.