Rugged defense, speed will become a staple for the undersized Wildcats

TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 10: Milton Jennings #24 of the Clemson Tigers drives the ball against Solomon Hill #44 of the Arizona Wildcats during the college basketball game at McKale Center on December 10, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Tigers 63-47. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Wildcats' basketball team doesn't have much for size.

Head coach Sean Miller gave big men in Kyryl Natyazhko a chance earlier in the season, but it's been ineffective so far. Sidiki Johnson left the team, and freshman athlete Angelo Chol still has a learning curve despite showing energy and promise.

So Miller has come to terms with who his team is, and no matter who starts for the backcourt or on the wings, Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry, two small forwards, are locked into the power forward and center spots unless Chol or Natyazhko can break out.

The Wildcats are going to play fast, and despite the fact this year's squad won't give 10 players significant minutes, it doesn't mean they won't come with the same mindset as last year.

Swarm the opponent on defense, and they'll be alright.

Where they get beat in the middle -- Florida's Patric Young was the latest to take the Wildcats to school -- Arizona will make up for on the perimeter. Here's a fun stat for you: opponents listed as guards by ESPN's box scores have shot 75 total shots against the Wildcats in the past two games.

The catch? They've only made 20 of those, translating to a 31 percent shooting. Players listed as forwards, wings or centers have only taken 53 shots against Arizona in the past two contests, meaning either teams aren't pressing Arizona enough on its vulnerable interior -- it's no secret Arizona is small inside -- or the Wildcats are doing a good job of keeping it out of the big mens' hands.

It's probably a product of both of the above, but it goes to show Arizona is making do with what they've got. That also means Miller is accepting his teams shortcomings and coaching around them.

You could tell as much against Clemson, when Arizona got a fast start with an ultra-small lineup of Jordin Mayes, Nick Johnson, Kyle Fogg, Hill and Perry. Miller and the Clemson players told Bruce Pascoe and the media at the game that Arizona wore them down.

That was due both to smothering defense, but also Miller only playing two of his players more than 30 minutes.

Furthermore, it was obvious -- especially with the starting lineup -- that the Wildcat players were instructed to push the pedal to the floor off most every defensive rebound.

They'll need to do that on a daily basis if they hope to make a strong run through a Pac-12 Conference that's looking pretty bad thus far.

Now that we know who this team is, we get to see how far it can go this season despite having very little force on the inside.

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