Sean Miller has always believed in his players being strong and playing tough.
Since coming to Arizona three-and-a-half years ago, Miller has not stopped preaching the importance of every player on the court adding size and strength in order to play aggressively and physically.
One player that benefited greatly from this emphasis is former Wildcat Derrick Williams.
When Williams arrived at U of A, he was an average-sized (6'8", 228 lbs) college forward. When he left, through tons of hard work, he had added almost 20 pounds of muscle on his way to becoming an NBA lottery pick.
The current Arizona team is spending plenty of time in the weight room in preparation for the 2012-13 season. Rather than being satisfied with pulling in a top-tier recruiting class, Miller and his staff are seeing to it that the incoming freshmen, as well as all of the returning players, are pushing themselves to the max in the offseason.
Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star relays some of the recent results from Miller. He said that seven-foot freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski "arrived at 223 pounds and is now up to about 250 pounds with just 8 percent body fat."
He also said that 6'8", 230-pound freshman forward Brandon Ashley "reported with 22 percent body fat, but has already dropped to nearly 10 percent."
The brains behind all of this brawn-building is Arizona's strength coach, Chris Rounds.
Richard Paige of UA News points out that, "In his eight years as a college head coach, Miller has worked with seven assistant coaches, but just one strength coach in Rounds."
More than just seeing to it that the players pump iron in the offseason, Rounds makes sure that they are doing strength training year round.
The in-season workouts are designed to maintain what is built from April through October. Arizona players still hit the weights twice a week during the season.
While this is not a new or unique philosophy, Rounds is relentless in seeing that all the effort expended leading up to the season is not lost once practices and games begin.
Because of intense recruiting by Miller and his staff, the Wildcats are talented with a long bench. Their depth alone will create challenges for their opponents in the 2012-13 season.
But, when you hear about the progress that they are making off the court in the weight room, it's not hard to imagine that they might be getting ready for another deep run in this year's NCAA tournament.