Arizona Basketball

Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller already impressed with team’s cohesiveness

Arizona’s basketball season does not start for another 52 days, but judging from Sean Miller’s Tweet yesterday, he can not wait for tip off.

Here it is:

It could get dicey when a coach tries to mesh high-level talent such as Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with a group of returners who are trying to establish themselves for playing careers beyond college. The sport has only one basketball a team tries to make into one hoop.

From all accounts, Gordon and Hollis-Jefferson are team-first players buying into that concept.

When I interviewed members of the Oakland Soldiers AAU team this summer — Gordon is an alum of that team — they told me Gordon was the hardest working player on the team without question. The feedback I received was Gordon never placed his stardom above the team concept.

Hollis-Jefferson’s high school coach Larry Yarbray of Chester (Pa.) told Bruce Pascoe of The Arizona Daily Star last year that the small forward is “a total team player, committed to winning. He’s very coachable. He listens and he wants to get better.”

Another important element to a sound team concept: Reliable prototypical point guard skills from the top two at that position — Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell and senior Jordin Mayes.

McConnell is a pure point guard, a player who likes to incorporate teammates in the offensive flow rather than set up his own shot. Jordin Mayes, Arizona’s lone senior who commands respect with how he has persevered in his career, can be a coach on the floor at the point guard position.

He will receive a valuable reinforcement from longtime family friend Damon Stoudamire, the former UA player and recently-hired assistant coach who granted Mayes’ permission to wear his No. 20 for the Wildcats.

* * * * *

Yesterday was the first day the NCAA allowed full-team workouts. Workouts are different than practices because the NCAA labels them as individualized skill instruction. Before yesterday, coaches were allowed to spend two hours per week with up to only four players. Now they can work with the entire team in that time frame before the first day of practice on Sept. 27.

The first day is no longer Oct. 15 (as was the case in past years) because of a new NCAA rule adopted in April.

The NCAA’s Legislative Council amended and approved a long-tabled measure that will allow men’s basketball teams to conduct 30 days of practice in the six weeks before their first regular-season game. In the past, practice began roughly four weeks before the regular season.

Arizona’s first regular-season game is Nov. 8 against Cal Poly at McKale Center. Sept. 27 is the date exactly six weeks before that game.

According to Michelle Brutlag Hosick of, the rule creates a flexible preseason practice schedule that allows practice days and off days instead of the current schedule that leads to practice occurring every possible day. The more flexible approach provides coaches with the ability to determine how to use practice opportunities.


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