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What Sean Miller said at his pre-Cal Poly press conference

<span data-author="5158751">arizona-wildcats-utep-miners-recap-what-we-learned</span> Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The first game is in the books, but the Arizona Wildcats don’t have that much time to sit around before getting back to action. On Sunday night they host Cal Poly, the second of three home contests before the level of competition ramps up at the Maui Invitational.

The Mustangs, which opened with an 82-75 win over NAIA school Menlo College, was 9-22 last season. That comes after Arizona faced a Houston Baptist team that was 5-26 a year ago, and after Cal Poly is a UTEP squad that was 11-20 in 2017-18.

Tough opponents? Not so much. But that doesn’t mean knowledge can’t be gained from those games.

“Every time we play a game, every time we learn from a game … players get more comfortable,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said Friday. “Even upperclassmen. I don’t know if any coach, right now, has everything completely worked out.”

Here’s what else Miller said in his pre-Cal Poly press conference:

On freshman Brandon Williams’ debut:

“One of the things that he did a great job of … he didn’t shoot the ball as well as he’s capable, but he did not let that affect the other parts of his game. He had five assists and no turnovers. Brandon had a lot to do with that. For him to play the minutes that he did, without a turnover, that was a really good sign.”

On turnovers:

“We had 11 in the first half as a team, we only had two in the second half. I think that’s one of the things that we were most proud of, we were able to put a subpar first half behind us and put together a much better game handling the ball.”

On junior Dylan Smith:

“To his credit, he’s maybe the most determined defensive player we have. He’s a better shooter than he’s shown. We’re looking forward to him settling in and taking good shots and making a few of those as well. They just haven’t fallen. I don’t look at Dylan at all as playing scared. Playing scared means you’re not doing anything out there. He’s doing every single thing we’re asking him to do. I think it’s really a matter of him settling in.

On whether Smith is Arizona’s best perimeter defender:

“If he isn’t, he’s right there. He’s also experienced. He’s one of the rare players that we have that’s been in our program, in his third year.”

On senior Justin Coleman’s impact so far:

“First of all, Justin Coleman is a tremendous person off the court, in the locker room, on a daily basis. I haven’t been around too many people that I have coached that are the same every day like him. It’s one of the big reasons why his teammates voted him to be a captain, one of our two captains. I think his heart is always in the right place. I think, more than anything, what we feel from him is his overall presence away from basketball. You need those older players that make sure that everybody’s okay.”

On picking captains for the first time:

“We talked a lot this fall, this summer, about kind of implementing things to establish our way of doing things. In the past, leadership always emerges as the year goes on, but we didn’t necessarily vote for captains.”

On the experience Coleman and junior Chase Jeter brought to the team:

“They have a track record of college basketball. Both have been in other programs, they’ve overcome adversity, they’ve worked really hard. This is the final stop for those guys and I think they want to make the most of it. I think we’re really excited about the fact those guys are our leaders.”

On taking more threes this season:

“The game has changed, and every coach has to cater to the talent of his team, who we have. We have more guards, wings and forwards this year, less frontcourt players. One of our frontcourt players, Ryan Luther, happens to be one of our best three-point shooters. Taking advantage of that is a big, big deal. If you study our program, under my direction, especially the last six seasons, we’ve been a team that scores from the free throw line … and score a lot inside the arc from two. We’ve had teams that shoot a very high percentage from three, but we just didn’t shoot a lot per game. This year, no doubt, the percentage of points that we’re going to score are gonna come more from the three-point line than we have the last six years. But you don’t want to live and die by the three. Although we recognize we’re going to shoot more threes, we certainly don’t want to be that one-trick pony, where if we make them, great, but if we don’t we’re in trouble.”

On maximizing the team’s lack of size:

“To utilize the three-point shot to our advantage. I think secondly to create driving opportunities. When you have a bunch of guys on the court who are skilled, the court kind of opens up more. We don’t want to just shoot three-point shots. We want to get to the foul line and get two.”

On defensive rebounding:

“Defensively, we have to be really good at the things we can control. That was probably the biggest disappointment from our season opener. Houston Baptist really had their way with us rebounding. We can fix that. We can’t do that by making our guys taller, we have to be able to do that by blocking out. We don’t have that room for error. It doesn’t mean we can’t be a good defensive rebounding team, we just have to do it a different way. We’re not blessed with size. Our rebounding has to be done as a team. We have to be physical. You give second shots up like we did the other night, a lot of bad things will follow.”

On the difference between a good three-pointer and a bad one:

“I think a good three is going to be, No. 1, going to be ball reversal first. Maybe the ball touch the low post. I think an early three just has to be a wide-open, uncontested shot, no one around. That one is easily understood. But when you start to take threes early in possession, off the dribble threes, it’s defended, and you’re shooting over somebody. That’s fool’s gold. That might work in a certain moment, over the long haul that won’t work. And this isn’t an equal opportunity, it’s not everybody that puts the uniform can shoot threes. When you talk about defining roles, we don’t want everyone on the court to feel like they’re equal. I don’t look at that as a problem for our team right now.”

On getting sophomore Ira Lee integrated after being suspended for the opener:

“Ira’s practiced with us every day, so although he didn’t play in our season opener, I wish we had him. He’s full go, and the role that he’ll have on Sunday is the role that he would have had if he’d played in the first game.”

On playing more zone to counter having a smaller lineup:

“We might mix it in. You can only get good in certain things. For us, maybe a little bit more full-court pressure. Maybe, in our man-to-man, showing different looks, like trapping the low post, which helps our lack of size. Trapping the ball screen, which caters to our quickness.”

On improving defensively:

“We never really established our defense (last season). We were at times very mediocre, maybe even subpar. Some of that had to do with personnel, some of it might have had to do with coaching. We, I had to do a better job. I hope that, when it all ends this year, we can point to our team getting back to being stingy. Our hope is that our defense can be better.”

On sophomore Brandon Randolph:

“Brandon is a great example of somebody who is an improved player. A lot of these guys practiced very, very hard last year. They were playing against some great talent. Playing against Rawle every day, playing against Allonzo every day. You look at a guy like Chase, he was practicing against Deandre and Dusan, Keanu. Our practice was very competitive. Brandon Randolph, he’s off to a tremendous start. The 25 points, that’s something we’re very, very happy about, I hope he gets 25 again on Sunday. There’s always things he can do better, and he’ll do those things better. He’s better every day in practice. He’s shown, obviously, in games, that he’s a scorer, and excellent shooter. We’re just trying to make him better.”

On facing Cal Poly’s matchup zone defense:

“We haven’t played against a zone in games, we work on it every day in practice. That will be one of the keys to us being successful Sunday, being able to function and move the ball, not let that type of defense take us out of rhythm. When you play against Cal Poly, I think attacking that zone is a big part of any team’s success playing against them.”

On giving out individual awards after each game:

“This is really the first year that we’ve done it. We’ve always talked after a game, we call it feedback, what we did well, what we didn’t do well, and also which players did this exceptionally well, and in some cases what they didn’t do well. We have the player of the game, the guy that statistically did the best job. We have the hustler of the game, somebody that gives of himself, first to the floor, hard plays on the ball, drawing charges. A lot of evidence to back that up. Sixth man of the game, that’s the player that doesn’t start but impacts the game in a big way as a non-starter. That’s a big, big award because you want depth, you want different people to contribute in different ways. Playmaker of the game, the guy that (led in) assist-to-turnover ratio, really found his teammates. Defender of the game, from our coaching staff’s’ perspective, the guy who did his job. For the most part somebody who just really embodied the qualities that we wanted to see, and did it best. The last one is the screener of the game, and sometimes that’s unselfish and overlooked because that doesn’t stand out. I think we’re going to start posting them, when we move to the next game, start sharing them with our fans.”