Yes, Sean Miller really does expect you to stay in a defensive stanceby Anthony Gimino on Feb. 16, 2010, under Sports
Arizona Wildcats basketball coach Sean Miller figures it isn’t too much to ask. If the other team is holding the ball for most of the 35-second shot clock, then you have to play defense for, oh, about 35 seconds.
It’s not very complicated.
As it happens in a basketball season, your team is going to miss shots, have its off days offensively. But effort on defense never goes out of style. At least, it shouldn’t. This is where Miller is coming from.
To understand Miller as a coach, you have to understand Miller as a player at Pitt.
“All you had to do was tell him what you wanted him to do,” John Calipari, a longtime Miller family friend, once told the Cincinnati Enquirer. Calipari helped recruit Sean at Pitt.
“There were bigger, faster, stronger and quicker players,” Calipari said. “But there was no one who was smarter. He had to be to survive.”
Tough. Scrappy. Never gave an inch.
That is what he demanded — and that is what he got — from his players at Xavier. That is what he is demanding — and that is what he is only sometimes getting — from his players at Arizona.
He failed to see the desired results Saturday in a 63-55 home loss to Oregon State.
“On offense, they were extremely patient and took a lot of shots near the end of the clock,” Miller said Tuesday on the Pac-10 coaches teleconference with media.
“You could see it had a wearing affect on our team, especially the young players. It was as if the mentality we took was, ‘You mean to tell me you’re going to make me stay in the stance for that long? That’s not fair.’”
Miller called that attitude “disappointing more than anything.”
Related link from TucsonCitizen.com:
UA’s loss to Oregon State eerily similar to Olson’s first year at Arizona
He said when the other team is that patient, “you have to be disciplined, you have to have some toughness to you, you have to understand that the game is going to be played a little differently. You’re going to have to have the wherewithal to stay with it for 40 minutes, knowing that a lot of things are going to happen at the end of the clock.
“My team caved in in a big way in that area.”
Intensity and personal discipline come naturally to Miller, who prizes those qualities in his players.
In 1986, when he was a junior at Blackhawk High School in western Pennsylvania, his father and coach, John Miller, told the Associated Press that his son had shot at least 100 free throws for almost 700 consecutive days. He kept at it for nearly three years.
“I see players who have so much more talent than me, I know I have to play 10 times harder than them just to play on their level,” a 17-year-old Sean Miller told the AP.
“There’s probably only five days a year I don’t play. Sometimes when I’m tired or want to go out at night I wish I didn’t play as much as I do, but then I realize how much money a scholarship is worth.”
That’s why, especially to Miller, that staying in a defensive stance for 35 seconds isn’t too much to ask.