Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 11/1/12
TUCSON, Ariz. The first impression of Arizona basketball after a 108-67 exhibition win over Humboldt State in McKale Center was: practices must be unbelievably competitive. The second thing is: Arizona's student section (Zona Zoo) is going to say "Zoooo" a lot. That's in honor of freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski, who is as impressive of a big man UA has had here than at any time in the last 25 years. In the win, "Zoooo" had 18 points and 10 rebounds, 13 points coming in the second half. Yet, the most impressive attributes about Tarczewski is his "attitude and who he is as a person," UA coach Sean Miller said. "He's unselfish and a willing learner. And he has a mean streak to him, which is a good thing. It allows him to be physical a lot of great things are going to happen (with him)." Miller said "guys like him are difference makers." Miller knew exactly what he was getting a player. "He's a willing and hungry person to get better," Miller said. "He's on a quest to do better." There's some thought that he may be better than anyone thought he was. Miller said to keep this in mind: "Zoooo" weighed just 228 pounds and is now closer to 260 pounds. "He's starting to get used to being heavier and getting stronger," Miller said. That will bring a smile to Miller's face, as will Arizona's overall depth. It's unlike anything UA has had in more than a decade. "It's going to be fun to coach them," Miller said. For the seniors Solomon Hill, Mark Lyons, and Kevin Parrom it'll be a season of helping guide the young guys. For the freshman and sophomores, it'll be a season of being guided and improvement. There's so much to like. UA had five players in double figures scoring in the win. "If you go to practice not prepared or not ready you'll lose your spot," said Lyons, a transfer from Xavier. "Coach doesn't play any favoritism. Every practice everyone has to bring it regardless if you are a freshman or a senior." In four or five months, Arizona is going to be hard to beat because of the potential. Its depth, size and youth will only get better, which, of course, means the ceiling on this year's version of the Wildcats is going to be huge. Wednesday night was a perfect example, although Humboldt State is not a team to gauge your team's future on. But, Arizona's depth is very apparent. So is its size. So is its versatility. It's a far cry from last season when depth and size proved to be UA's undoing. "We're so much bigger and our size comes with depth," said Miller. "One of the challenges is to utilize that size to our advantage all the time." Miller said UA's biggest learning lesson on Wednesday was playing defense on the perimeter in that it gave up too many 3-pointers as Humboldt hit 9 of 19. Arizona had defensive rotation problems and responsibility. "It's something we will work on and something I'm confident we will get better at as we continue to practice and play more games," Miller said. He might as well be talking about his two big men Kaleb Tarczewski and freshman Grant Jerrett. More specifically on Tarczewski, he's going to be bigger literally and figuratively. "I thought tonight was actually more of who he is as opposed to the Red-Blue game (where) he was more of in a hurry and was nervous," Miller said. "Whether he made the shots or not if he gets the ball around the basket he can score." And he makes himself available. He's a big body who is going to get bigger and better. "Kaleb is determined and he works really hard," Miller said. "He's hard on himself and sometimes that could be a good thing. Sometimes he wants to do well but sometimes that can take away your own confidence." Miller is talking to him about that. In the meantime, others will talk up Tarczewski, who wasn't made available after the win. UA sophomore Nick Johnson said he teased his teammate a bit before the game because he was nervous in the Red-Blue game. But it's about playing basketball, Johnson told him, and it's what they do. Just go do it. "We know he can score in the post with the best of them," Johnson said. "He's a big body. He had a big game." Big and plentiful - looks to be the operative word for Arizona this season.
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