Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 12/3/11
TUCSON -- So far so good for the University of Arizona men's basketball team. But it's the next three games that might set the tone for the rest of the season for the Wildcats. No. 9 Florida on Wednesday. Clemson on Dec. 10. And No. 18 Gonzaga on Dec. 17. "I like it," said Arizona junior leader Solomon Hill. "That's what Arizona is all about, playing tough teams day in and day out. The next three games are going to decide our future." Saturday, against Northern Arizona, was a tune up. What the next three games will do is gauge just how good Arizona is. The three games are the best three nonconference pre-Christmas stretch since UA faced Gonzaga, Nevada-Las Vegas and Kansas in 2008. By the way, Arizona went 2-1, losing only to UNLV on the road. How will Arizona do in the next two weeks? Arizona coach Sean Miller isn't going to forecast anything, but he likes what he has seen in the past couple of games now that UA has won two straight and has apparently recovered from its home loss to San Diego State more than 10 days ago. Victories help, of course, and Saturday Arizona picked up win No. 6 in beating Northern Arizona 53-39 in McKale Center. UA is now 6-2 overall. "Can we win one? Can we win two? My goodness could we win three?" asked Miller. "Can we get shutout? All are possible." What the trio of teams provide are great looks at what's ahead in the all-important Pac-12 Conference. Florida likes to play fast and will test Arizona defensively on the perimeter. Clemson is a big, banging team that will test UA's size and strength. Gonzaga is still one of the top programs in the country. "No one can say anything about our non-conference schedule," said Miller, repeating something he's said the last month. "We've played an excellent schedule. It's preparing us and giving us opportunities. Our goal is to keep getting better, both individually and collectively." Much like Hill has done the last month or so. After being challenged to step up after failing to score in double figures the first two games and struggling in the UA's two exhibition games, Hill has scored in double figures six consecutive times and leads Arizona in assists 3.1 a game. He went into Saturday's game averaging a team-leading 12 points. Saturday, Hill finished with a game-high 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists. "He's been playing great and he's the motor to our team," said UA senior Kyle Fogg, who did his part by hitting three consecutive 3-pointers to help kick start the second half and put some distance between UA and NAU. "It's not just points. If you look across his stat-line, he's filling it up. And it doesn't just stop at that. He's setting screens. He'll continue to get better as the season continues." What gives? Hill, a 6-foot-6 forward, said it's been all about staying consistent, "and becoming a different player than I've been the last two years." Of course, with star Derrick Williams now in the NBA, Hill figured to play a bigger role. It was his for the taking to begin the year. Early on, it appeared he was a bit reluctant in accepting it. He admitted he was a bit "slow" in attempting to get everyone involve, perhaps even himself. Thus, Miller challenged him, saying the upperclassmen needed to take more of a role in Arizona's potential success. "I knew it would be hard, especially with some expecting to take a full load with Derrick gone," Hill said. "But I tried to come into my own and be relaxed. I didn't want to buy into the pressure, I wanted to play my game and lead in my own way." Earlier in the week, Miller said Hill was playing his best basketball as a Wildcat -- ever, settling into the player he can become. Hill was becoming more established and the good practices have helped. Nothing has changed in his evaluation after Saturday. "Some of his offensive rebounds -- like Kyle (Fogg's) threes were the difference in the game," said Miller. "He does a lot of good things for us. But it's important that he stays humble and that he stays hungry and that he keeps working every day. That's what has got him to where he is now. "This is nothing more than a good start. He can continue to get better as the season grows." Not surprisingly, it's mirrored Arizona's similar progress. How it continues over the next three games will be tested. Notable UA senior Kevin Parrom has continued to struggle. He went 1 for 4 from the floor in 13 minutes. Miller said he's looking for "slow and steady" progress from Parrom and concerned that he doesn't "suffer any setbacks." Miller is hoping with hard work that "he'll eventually come around." It's been well-documented that Parrom was shot in the knee and hand in September while at home in New York visiting his then ill-mother. She passed away three weeks later. Parrom returned to the court on Nov. 13 against Ball State, inspiring UA in the 73-63 victory. Arizona played in front of 13,811 fans and they were introduced to new football coach Rich Rodriguez, who spent the second half enjoying the game from the Zona Zoo section, UA's student section.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Markelle Fultz out at least another 2-3 weeks

Donald Trump rips LaVar Ball, says he should have left LiAngelo in Chinese jail

Broncos reportedly experiencing ‘growing frustration’ with offensive scheme

Report: Jim Harbaugh not interested in returning to the NFL

Report: Tyrod Taylor could generate a lot of interest on trade market

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Broncos QB Trevor Siemian inactive Sunday

Browns reportedly serious about recruiting Peyton Manning for front office

Ronald Darby vouches for Jameis Winston, says he was in Uber car with QB

Report: Roger Goodell expected to finalize contract extension within weeks

Pete Carroll refutes report that Kam Chancellor will miss rest of season

Pete Carroll not ruling out possibility Kam Chancellor injury is career-ending

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

The 'An I, Tonya for an eye (or knee)' quiz

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

NCAA college football 2017 Week 12 predictions

NFL Week 11 predictions

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

The Saints flipped the script to revive their season

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

The 'It's a major award!' quiz

Vikings' unnecessary quarterback conundrum is Mike Zimmer's doing

Time to admit the Blues are good, but can they be great?

Wildcats News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

The 'An I, Tonya for an eye (or knee)' quiz

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

The 'It's a major award!' quiz

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

The Saints flipped the script to revive their season

NFL Week 11 predictions

NCAA college football 2017 Week 12 predictions

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker