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Without all the fanfare and hoopla, Sean Miller begins his seventh season at Arizona today with the start of practice.
Midnight Madness never became vogue in Tucson — Lute Olson tried it only once — and this is a basketball-crazed town. Arizona’s start of the season is generally welcomed by a sellout crowd for the Red-Blue Game, which is only 13 days away at McKale Center.
Arizona will partake in 27 practices in addition to the Red-Blue Game, a closed scrimmage at St. Mary’s and exhibition game against Chico State on Nov. 8. The season opener against Pacific is only five days after that.
The players have developed a “Just Us” motto because a definite lottery pick is not part of the team after having Aaron Gordon and Stanley Johnson on the roster the last couple of years.
Miller commented during Media Day last week that not much separates the talent level from player No. 1 to No. 10 on the roster.
You get the sense that Miller loves to be in that position as a coach — putting all of the pieces together — rather than having to start with one or two stars and trying to mold the team around them.
Miller has managed to soothe egos and make NBA-bound players buy into his system. His challenge this year is to develop the right rotation with seven newcomers vying for important roles. His returning veterans Kaleb Tarczewski and Gabe York are no longer in the shadows. They are expected to play at the same level as leaders before them.
This season of intrigue starts today with practice. It has the makings to be a fun ride.
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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo: