At 4-0, Arizona heads to Vegas for first real test
Four blowout victories at home have Arizona off to its best start in eight seasons.
Now comes the Wildcats' first true test, a trip to Las Vegas to face Santa Clara on Friday, then No. 6 Kansas on Saturday.
''Our team is getting a lot better,'' Arizona guard Kyle Fogg said. ''We're really working together. I'm definitely excited for this weekend to see how good we can really be.''
Arizona has beaten Idaho State by 48, New Mexico State by 26, Northern Colorado by 23 and Bethune-Cookman by 33 - not exactly the fierce schedule the Wildcats have had in previous years.
But Sean Miller, in his second season as Arizona coach, likes what he has seen so far.
''We want to play a fun brand of basketball,'' Miller said. ''We want to play hard-nosed man-to-man. We want to play a lot of different players. Not that we're a great team by any stretch but we're going to keep getting better. I love our team's attitude.''
Derrick Williams, the Pac-10 freshman of the year last season, is off to a terrific start, averaging 19.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while shooting 74 percent (26 of 35) from the field.
In Tuesday night's rout of Bethune-Cookman, Williams wowed his teammates with a 360-degree spinning dunk and sank a 3-pointer.
''There's no question we have one of the best players in the country on our team,'' Miller said.
As the competition gets tougher, Miller wants to play the 6-foot-8 Williams more alongside 6-11 Kyryl Natyazhko.
''It will be interesting to see this weekend how that works,'' Miller said. ''We'll know a lot more after these two games.''
Miller, lured from Xavier to try to restore Arizona to the greatness of the Lute Olson years, said he is comfortable with a 10-man rotation, although the ninth and 10th players might not get much time as the season goes along.
Arizona is shooting 53 percent from the field, with nearly half of its shots layups or dunks, while its opposition is at 34 percent.
Although he wouldn't criticize the competition, Miller knows that the first four games are hardly a barometer.
''We're so far from being that front-running team,'' he said. ''We haven't done anything yet.''
Two newcomers have fit right in - junior college transfer forward Jesse Perry and freshman guard Jordin Mayes. Ten players have played at least 50 minutes in the first four games.
Jamelle Horne, the team's lone senior, who had 13 points against Bethune-Cookman, is ready for better competition.
''We figure we're playing at a high level right now,'' he said. ''If we go to Vegas and continue to do what we're doing, I think we'll be fine and the games will be a lot more interesting.''