Arizona Wildcat coach Sean Miller: “Entitlement” not a good thingby Steve Rivera on Feb. 18, 2010, under Sports
The word rolled easily off Arizona Wildcat coach Sean Miller’s tongue: “Entitlement.’’
There, he said it. And,no doubt meant it. Arizona players – not all mind you – have it.
And it’s not a good thing, but in the past 20-something years a lot of UA players had it – a hubris. Real or otherwise.
They’re at Arizona because they can play basketball and do it well. At least you’d assume they can. Hey, Arizona is still considered (we can argue) a top program. And at times, the players have that feel of an entitled team. An overconfidence. Just show up and the other team wilts.
Miller has seen it. He’s been on the other side. The view is often better on the other side. It may be one of the reasons for UA’s demise last week against Oregon State. It may have been the reason for many a loss this season, although talent and execution has played a part in most of them. Sorry to say, Arizona isn’t what it used to be. That’s no shocker, but the players (at least in their minds) don’t think that.
“Very much,’’ Miller said when asked if that played a part in a dud of a game. “And we have no reason for a lot of reasons. We’ve talked about it.’’
UA junior Jamelle Horne said he didn’t think there was a sense of entitlement, “but I understand what he meant by using that word.’’
Horne, however, admitted there were signs “of that, guys not playing as well as they were capable of.’’
Miller understands why. UA has long been considered one of, if not, THE team to beat, in the Pac-10 Conference. Sometimes players, followers, fans and the media believe that’s still true. And why not?
“McKale with 14,500 on a Saturday afternoon (the players think) it’s going to be a lot of fun,’’ Miller said, thinking for a second like a college student-athlete. “But it’s not going to be a lot of fun. It’s something we’re going to have to earn from the jump to the final buzzer.’’
It doesn’t always happen.
“We’ve shown that anyone on our schedule can beat us,’’ Miller said.
Conversely, Arizona has shown it can play hard and play with just about any team. But overconfidence should never happen. It was a reason why Miller was so peeved over the weekend. So much so he put his team through a two-a-day workout on Monday. He did that a time or two while at Xavier. So, has he shown the Wildcats film of Xavier to show them how they did things (remember, Xavier was as consistent and solid of a program in recent years)?
“”Our guys,’’ Miller said matter of factly, “they don’t respect Xavier. It’s like Florida didn’t respect Xavier. It’s one of the things you have to your advantage when you’re there.”
That’s Miller-esque. Hell, who would have thought this smallish guard (Miller at Pittsburgh) would have become the player he became had he not worked hard? Proved people wrong. He had to prove himself all the time. He wants the same out of his players.
How does it happen?
“It’s a daily process, making sure everyone is held accountable,’’ Miller said. “Practice carries into a game.’’
It’s about playing hard – no matter who you think you are.
Miller pointed to UA’s performance against Washington as an example. It played admirably in defeat as many of the stars faltered. But two days later the team tanked against Washington State.
“If we beat Oregon State and don’t play with a lot of effort and consistency that’s a problem,’’ he said. “ We want to be a team that has a lot of pride in the effort we play with. We want people to see us play as a team and play hard together. If we do that, that’ll be our best chance.’’
Contact Steve at Steve.Rivera95@gmail.com. Visit his website at SteveRiveraventures.com.