Point Guard U was in attendance for Coaches’ Night Out, an event featuring the Arizona men’s basketball team and coaching staff with special guest host Lute Olson. Fans got to meet players and coaches in support of The Arizona Cancer Center and local initiatives to promote health and wellness among youth. Here are some impressions from the night and some of the first quotes from the players heading into the 2011-12 season.
Sidiki Johnson and Angelo Chol may be freshmen, but they looked very strong and ready to play in the post. Johnson especially has added a significant amount of strength to his body, and he should be physically ready to compete down low.
“I’m really enjoying being on campus,” said Johnson. “The team is really great and I feel at home already.”
“I’m enjoying everything about college so far, especially playing basketball,” Chol said.
Freshmen guards Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner also figure to see significant minutes this year. Johnson has been one of Arizona’s hardest workers in practice and should provide the Wildcats with solid guard depth.
“The biggest difference between high school and college is the speed of the game,” said Johnson, who played at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada his senior year of high school.
Sean Miller said he expected a lot from all four freshmen.
“Our freshmen haven’t gone through it all yet,” Miller said, “but they all will have a role and many will likely a have a key role.”
Like many of the players, senior Jesse Perry has also added muscle to his frame, and should be one of the post players Arizona relies on most.
“I’m having fun, working hard, just trying to be a team player and I’m proud to be here,” Perry said.
Arizona will also rely heavily on the senior leadership of Kyle Fogg, while fellow seniors Brendon Lavender, Alex Jacobson, and D’ondre Wise are all working hard to contribute.
“I’m having the best time of my life,” said Fogg. “It was the best decision I ever made to come to the U of A.”
“Not many teams in college basketball these days have 5 seniors hungry and ready to lead,” said Sean Miller.
Jordin Mayes, who was recovering from a foot injury over the summer, said he was ready for the season to begin.
“My leg is feeling a lot better,” Mayes said, “I’m ready to go, I’m back, I’m ready. I have a lot of confidence in my teammates and coaches.”
The seniors were asked to give some pearls of wisdom to the incoming freshmen.
“Take advantage of your opportunities, work hard, and make your dreams come true,” said Fogg.
“Have fun and live in the moment,” Jacobson said, “because it goes fast whether its four or five years,”
“It’s a huge blessing to have scholarship to play here,” Lavender said. “You have everything you could need here so work hard. Buy into the process, the coaches have our best interests so listen to what they have to say.”
Miller said the team is looking forward to next season, and that they have an exciting schedule featuring games at Madison Square Garden and away games against Florida in Gainsville and Gonzaga in Seattle.
“A difficult schedule will be invaluable and really help the team improve as the season progresses,” said Miller.
Miller also said the upcoming Red-Bue game on October 22nd will be a very big night for recruiting, and that Arizona is attempting to get Jason Terry to honor his NBA championship during the event. Derrick Williams and Chase Budinger will also be there as they get inducted to the ring of honor.