As the Arizona men's basketball team prepares for its first trip abroad under the guidance of Sean Miller, the fourth-year head coach provided a video update on his team Thursday evening.
The Wildcats - who will leave for the Bahamas Aug. 9 and not return until Aug. 14 - will not be made available to the media prior to departing, citing NCAA rules that prohibit publicizing summer workouts - both before and after. So, Miller went ahead and provided an update on how the transition is coming along this summer for a team with eight newcomers, headlined by new point guard Mark Lyons and the No. 3-ranked recruiting class in the nation.
"I think it's gone really well," Miller said in the video released by Arizona communication services. "Obviously, the timing of us going to the Bahamas - and everything that accompanies a foreign trip, these days - you get the 10 documented practices. It's something that, if you don't go on a foreign trip, you can't do. So it's clearly an advantage."
Perhaps more than anyone else on the roster, freshmen and newcomers included, Miller said the extra practice time should benefit Kevin Parrom and Jordin Mayes.
Both players went through rocky, injury-riddled seasons - both on and off the court - last year. Mayes, who broke his foot the previous offseason and missed the first few weeks of practice last season, suffered a stress reaction in his right foot midway through the Pac-12 Conference slate in 2011-12 and was never the same player that contributed to the Wildcats' run to the Elite Eight as a freshman in 2011.
Parrom had the more tragic set of circumstances between the two players. Before the start of his junior season, he lost both his grandmother and mother to cancer, and then was shot in the right knee and hand while visiting his ill mother in New York just before the start of the season. He returned to the court well ahead of schedule, appeared to get settled in late January but then suffered a season-ending broken foot to cap an emotional year.
"We forget how much time last year - combined - that they both missed," Miller said. "Not just games or weeks of practice during the season.
"In Jordin's case, he really missed, in essence, 13 weeks building up to the start of practice in mid-October. And Kevin Parrom, his situation is well documented."
Among the stills in the video, a seemingly bigger Angelo Chol is shown working out in the weight room located inside Richard Jefferson Gymnasium, the team's practice facility.
Also, because of the depth on the team, Miller isn't sure that the starting lineup will remain "consistent" from start to finish next season.
"I think part of what we have, especially with good health and continued development," Miller said, "is a number of guys that - in a given week or weeks or stretch during the season - can go from the first sub to a starter, or a starter to the first sub.
"I think we have some components that really could be the makings of something special."
While overseas, the 'Cats will have a practice, an intrasquad scrimmage and two games against local teams, and the team will stay at the Royal Towers at the Atlantis in Paradise Island.
In the past, Miller has traveled to foreign locations to prepare for a season as a player, traveling to Europe while at Pittsburgh in the late 1980s; as an assistant coach, heading to Italy for about two weeks; and as the head coach at Xavier, coincidentally heading to the Bahamas on an "identical trip."
"Stayed at the Atlantis and did virtually the same thing we're doing this year here at Arizona," Miller added. "Having that experience, I'll tell you that just the travel alone, spending time with each other, being able to be on a trip where - although it's about basketball - it's also about the other things.
"Players learn each other, they know each other."
It will be the seventh time the program has toured foreign soil prior to the beginning of a season, and the first since Lute Olson's 2006 team traveled to Canada.
Click Here to view this Link.Tracy McDannald
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor