Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller takes the recent video clip of Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley for what it was: no big deal.
Hurley, in what became a viral moment, rallied his team in the locker room following Thursday night’s victory over Colorado, saying that “If anyone wants a win here, they better go to (expletive) Tucson.”
Good for him. It’s what he should say. He’s trying to fire up his team. He’s trying to create buzz. He should have his team believing that Pac-12 teams coming into the Arizona road trip won’t find anything easy in Tempe.
Does Hurley’s comment hold up to literal truth? Of course not. That’s not the point. Hurley should do whatever he can to motivate his team, and Miller should do whatever he can to motivate his.
Part of Miller’s motivation won’t be to emphasize that video.
That’s the best way to handle it, because there is no sense in the Wildcats giving Hurley any more oxygen.
“I didn’t see it,” Miller said Monday morning of the locker room video.
“A lot of people have told me about it. Bobby was a great competitor himself and the challenge as a coach it to get your team motivated, to have your team ready to play and to run a program, to build a program.
“Confidence is part of that. There is a lot of different ways to go about instilling that. I don’t think he meant that in a derogatory fashion toward our program or things here in Tucson, as much as making sure his guys believe in themselves and the objective to be a tough team to play against and win.
“I respect that. I know him and I know where he is from and how he’s wired. … In today’s world, the behind-the-scenes things can really be misunderstood and I think this is a classic example of that.”
All that said, it’s all fair game in a rivalry for Arizona fans to, in turn, mock Hurley about his statement. Gotta have some fun with that, right? Hey, the Zona Zoo will be back for the second semester when the teams play Thursday night at McKale Center for a 7 p.m. tip-off.
But the Arizona-ASU rivalry has not been huge in men’s basketball — certainly not like in football — because the Wildcats have always had bigger conference foes to worry about over the past quarter century. UCLA. Stanford. Washington.
Miller said he might have gotten caught up in a rivalry in his early coaching days, but no longer.
“That’s being like the young coach who is dumb vs. the older coach who is a lot smarter,” he said.
“The second you put too much emphasis on a moment, you have to realize that if there is less emphasis on another moment, then you must not think that game is as important. And, believe me, the players on our team sense that.
“It’s important for us that we are the same, that we take every game seriously and that we try to play with equal effort.”
Miller’s words trickle down to his players. Point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright downplayed the Hurley video, too.
“We all saw it,” Jackson-Cartwright said. “It’s just one of those things, you just got to brush it off. It’s not like it’s the end of the world. It doesn’t really affect anything we do basketball-wise. It’s just a comment.
“But, yeah, we saw it. We took notice to it. And we’ll be ready to go on Thursday.”