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Arizona head coach Sean Miller faces new challenges in 2018-19 season

FILE - In this March 15, 2018, file photo, Arizona coach Sean Miller calls out during a first-round game against Buffalo in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Boise, Idaho. When specifics about Title IX reporting requirements were added to Miller’s contract this year, the school said to expect similar language in its other coaching contracts. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

For Arizona head coach Sean Miller, the 2018-19 season provides a multitude of new challenges. With just nine players and only one starter left from last season’s roster, Miller is forced to integrate a group of newcomers into his pre-established style of play.

Miller, who took over as head of the program in 2009, has relied on a core group of players over the past three years and had great success.

His ability to amplify the potential of his players and help them reach the next level was evident by the 2018 NBA draft class.

While center Deandre Ayton, the first overall pick, was the only one of his players to actually get drafted, both Allonzo Trier and Rawle Alkins made their way to the NBA this summer as undrafted free agents.

Now, for the first time in a long time, Miller has been tasked with reconstructing his team and establishing increased roles for his rising stars.

Miller addressed this during his opening press conference on Monday morning.

“Even the returners, they have a different role this year and because of that, I think the access we had over the summer has been helpful but we have a long way to go. Every team does at this time of year, but in our case I think maybe even a little further. Again, just because of so much wholesale change. It’s something that I have not experienced and it’s kind of almost like taking over a new program.”

In spite of the challenge of developing returning players in a new lineup, Miller managed to recruit and integrate his newcomers to the Arizona culture. With three four-star recruits joining the team, including point guard phenom Brandon Williams, Miller has spent a large portion of the recent weeks instilling his team’s culture and preparing them for a new challenge.

“We’ve only had one practice. Clearly with the new NCAA rules in allowing us to be together more in the offseason, four hours as opposed to two, it’s a big difference,” Miller said.

“I think the familiarity that we were able to build over the summer is helpful when you lose as many as we’ve lost player-wise.”

Great coaches adapt to their rosters. This is the ultimate test of Miller’s ability as a coach in the modern college system.

Arizona’s first game of the year isn’t until Nov. 7, so he’s got some time to continue his work and create a finished product ahead of the new season.

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