Print and Go Back ESPN.com: College Basketball Nation [Print without images]

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Arizona limits media access to refocus

By Diamond Leung

Arizona -- in an attempt to refocus its players following two losses in Los Angeles last week that dropped the Wildcats into a first-place tie atop the Pac-10 -- has decided to limit the media's access to players.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, coach Sean Miller indicated that the national media attention was a distraction for the team:
"I thought our team got on the plane a little bit fat and happy. I don't want to say overconfident, but we hadn't lost in over a month, we had won eight games in a row, every national media seems to have interviewed our players and I think we got away a little bit from what makes us a good team.

"USC and UCLA gave us the medicine that we deserved and hopefully learning from it (will help) return back to form of being that hungry team here on Thursday against Oregon State."

Miller was concerned enough about his team’s mentality that he is not allowing any Wildcat players to attend today’s weekly interview session.

The Arizona Daily Star also reported that after Arizona lost by 22 at UCLA on Saturday, the only player made available to speak was reserve center Kyryl Natyazhko, who scored two points in the game.

The thinking is that while Arizona has dealt with the attention of having put together a season that will send them back to the NCAA tournament, it remains a young team unaccustomed to handling failure in front of the media. The idea is that limiting their media responsibilities will allow them to focus on basketball.

On the other hand, is it the right message to send to the players? Win, and you can soak up the spotlight to promote the program. Lose, and you don't necessarily have to explain yourself.

And what about the team's loyal fans? Don't paying customers also deserve to hear explanations as to what is going on with the team through the media?

Media access is determined by the programs themselves, so it's accepted that they make the rules. But will not having to talk to the media actually help the Wildcats against Oregon schools as they try to win the Pac-10 title?

If it does, Arizona will celebrate as it should and then presumably give plenty of interviews about the achievement. It's how the Wildcats handle a possible loss this week that will be interesting to watch since they're still learning about all that.