Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 10/28/11
A little humble pie can sometimes be a good thing. It's a lesson Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller is hoping his team learns quickly this season. Thursday night, the Wildcats played an exhibition game against Div. II Seattle Pacific and lost. Friday morning, Miller sat in front of reporters at the Pac-12 Conference media day at LA Live and acknowledged his club is far from being as good as last season's team, which won the Pac-10 regular-season title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Elite Eight. "I guess I'm the only coach here who's 0-1," he joked. If nothing else, the defeat -- which doesn't count on the Wildcats' record -- proved that there's work to do in Tucson. It's not just the loss of Derrick Williams, who was taken No. 2 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA draft, that Arizona must overcome. Miller also loses point guard Lamont "Momo" Jones, who transferred to Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., to be closer to his ill grandmother. And swingman Kevin Parrom is still recovering from gunshot wounds he suffered Sept. 24 in a dispute in the Bronx, his hometown, although he could return as early as late November. It's no wonder Miller was surprised to learn that media members picked his team to finish third in the Pac-12, behind UCLA and Cal. "There's no way in the world we're the third-best team in the Pac-12," he said. "You can say every coach says that, but I didn't say that last year and hopefully I won't say it next year. But I'm saying it now -- there's no chance that's where we are." Nothing opened his eyes as much as the 69-68 loss to Seattle Pacific. "Last night, you really got a true sense of where our team is," Miller said. "You could tell we're a work in progress." Parrom, a 6-6 junior, could help to stabilize things if he fully recovers from wounds to his right leg and left arm. He's supposed to provide help as a scorer and a team leader, but it won't be for at least another month. "I really believe he'll return to the court this year," Miller said. "We're pointing to late November, early December if he continues to experience the same progress that he has." Miller said Parrom will begin running soon and will participate in non-contact drills during practice. But part of his recovery is also emotional. "As much as it's about him overcoming his injury, he's also had his grandma and his mom pass away all within four months," Miller said. "When he came back from New York early this week, he had different look in his eye, almost as if all the bad things are over. I believe returning to the court is a real significant carrot for him." It might not be a cure-all for the Wildcats, however. Miller is also trying to work in four freshmen into the mix, which means the learning curve will be sharp. So far, guard Nick Johnson has shown the most progress, and Miller is hopeful that Josiah Turner, also a guard will develop over time. But 6-9 Angelo Chol and 6-8 Sidiki Johnson are short on defense and may spend more time on the bench than on the court. "With the young guys, what's good about them is they're all willing and ready to learn," senior Kyle Fogg said. "When you have something to say, they really listen." They'll be doing a lot of listening -- and Miller will be doing a lot of teaching. "Each of those guys is learning what it is to be in college," he said. "One thing about them, they can get better almost daily because they're like a blank canvas."
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