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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Miller not yet coach of the year


Men’s basketball head coach Sean Miller is everything that Arizona could ask for in a successor to a legend like Lute Olsen.

After a disappointing first season, McKale Center is buzzing again and this Wildcat team has “”special”” written all over it.

This Arizona team has the same feel of the 2008 Sweet 16 team, with the triple-overtime win against California looking like the “”Chase Face”” game that catapulted the Wildcats into a magical March.

It may not be a team that could win a national championship this year, but Miller has the Wildcats heading in that direction.

The Wildcats already have a 21-win season, and since they jumped into first place a couple weeks ago there has been one question floating around:

Is Sean Miller the national coach of the year?

As Miller likes to say, don’t put the cart before the horse.

At this point, Miller deserves a look. But if the season ended today, he shouldn’t be the national coach of the year. He hasn’t even locked up the Pacific 10 Conference Coach of the Year award.

If the season ended today, San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher, who has his Mountain West team ranked in the top-10 nationally, may be more deserving of the national title.

Better yet, one of Miller’s mentors in college basketball, Ohio State’s Thad Matta, may deserve it more, as his team just lost its first game on Saturday against Wisconsin.

This is not to say Miller can’t win the award in final few weeks of the season, but his team still has work to do.

Though Arizona is ranked No. 12 in the AP Top 25, the fact is none of their wins have come against ranked teams.  

The Wildcats played well against now-No. 1 Kansas in November but didn’t have enough to close the deal in the end.

Against No. 7 Brigham Young, Arizona got “”Jimmered”” for the second straight year in an 87-65 loss.

More recently, the Wildcats didn’t have enough in the tank against a then-first place Washington team on Jan. 20.

Nationally, everyone recognizes the Wildcats’ 21-4 record, but they also recognize the losses against the better teams. Causing people to hesitate before giving a full vote of confidence to Arizona.

Sure, you could argue an East Coast bias, but right now the national media has Arizona right where it belongs.

This weekend against the two Washington schools will give Miller and the Wildcats an opportunity to prove their validity.

Neither Washington State nor Washington is a ranked team, but the Huskies are close and the Cougars have the talent to beat anyone.

A loss will only fuel the detractors who are unsure Arizona is all that good.

Though Miller has done an admirable job, it’s too early to hand him any awards.

Arizona leads the Pac-10, UCLA is on their tail and winning the Pac-10 may determine whether he can receive coach of the year accolades.

Miller is in his longest win streak of his tenure at Arizona (six games) but he knows that his team must keep focused or their current success can change with a snap.

“”We always walk that fine line of being who we’ve been or changing,”” Miller said after winning at ASU. “”And when we change, we will lose.””

That will be what determines whether Miller receives the accolades at season’s end.


— Vincent Balistreri is a communication senior. He can be reached at

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