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New Brand

April 13, 2009


So whatís new?

You mean besides our head basketball coach, and the direction of the program, and the publicís perception of our athletic director, and our recruiting prospects, and our overall outlook on life?

What a difference a week makes. Heck, what a difference a few hours makes. We all went to bed last Sunday frustrated and grumbling and increasingly concerned. But as Monday rolled along the news started spreading. Second thoughts? Reconsidering?? Done deal?!?

When I said last week we should continue to go after good coaches, I didnít mean continue going after the same good coach, but that works too. We finally got a done deal that was actually done, and the Arizona Wildcats welcomed Coach Sean Miller.

Sean is a great name to have associated with the UA program, donít you think?

I'm not going to lie. I couldnít have picked Sean Miller out of a lineup two weeks ago. I canít name two players from the Atlantic 10. I'm not ashamed of my West Coast Bias.

But I know NCAA tournament wins are NCAA tournament wins no matter where you come from. I know Sean Miller has six tournament wins in the past three years, while Arizona only has two. I know the Xavier program has nine Big Dance victories in the past half dozen years compared to Arizonaís six.

(I know I donít want Coach Miller to see any of that lest he reconsider his reconsideration.)

Might as well prepare for it now: If Miller has any sort of success here, his name will be mentioned every time a prominent East Coast job opens up. Whether itís Jim Calhoun retiring at UConn, or an SEC coach trying the NBA, or Jamie Dixon leaving Millerís alma mater, Sean will be listed as a top candidate. Even if he stays here a full decade heíll still only be 50 years old and prime for wooing. So maybe he ends up being our Kansas Roy Williams instead of our Carolina Roy Williams. Thatís fine. As long as he doesn't cry as much.

This is how it works with good coaches. If you need one theyíre hard to pry away and if you have one there are a lot of priers out there.

Last week I couldnít believe how many people didnít want the job, and now I canít believe someone with this good a resume took it. And I have no idea how both those thoughts live in the same head.

About the Josh Pastner thing. Holy cow. I guess Memphis thought he had gone far enough down that path. The Last Acorn has found some pretty fertile soil. Let's hope he produces fruit. Er, nuts. Lute nuts. Letís just move on.

Now that we got the waiting out of the way, itís time forÖmore waiting. We need to be patient. As well as Millerís insta-recruiting appears to be going, weíre still a long way from The Arizona Basketball We Know And Love. Weíve had our fill of barely-making-the-tournament-and-no-chance-at-the-Final-Four. Itís time to construct a team that can win something. And that will take time.

The Sean Miller honeymoon period starts now and, from my perspective, itís going to be a long one. Iím not going to put any expectations on him for three full years.

As far as Iím concerned the NCAA tournament streak is already over. Miller gets to start over fresh at zero. Lute built the fan base and established the demand that gets all the games on TV, but Miller will be building from the ground up. He should be allowed to do so without the pressure of a statistic from the Lute era hanging over his head. Sean is free to be who he is and win his own way.

That said, don't understate the significance of Coach Olson being at the press conference and literally welcoming Miller with open arms. Think back to all the in-the-family coaches who have come and gone in the last few years. Roz, KO, Pastner, Simon, Geary (twice). Lute tried time and again to find an heir, there's a strong chance Miller will have no one with UA ties on his first Arizona coaching staff, and Lute was still giving public approval of the new coach.

It was as if, just like that, Sean Miller became a Lute guy.

Thatís whatís new.



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