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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Forward motion won’t be so easy

    All Madden

    Monday was an exciting day for sports.

    Major League Baseball kicked off its season, the NCAA basketball national championship game featured Michael Jordan’s former team against Magic Johnson’s former team, and Jordan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – the latter of which seemed redundant.

    Josh Pastner was taken off of the list of available college coaches, as the 31-year-old reportedly accepted the Memphis head-coaching gig.

    None of that mattered to the Wildcat Nation on Monday, though. The hiring of Sean Miller as Arizona’s next men’s basketball coach was the headliner.

    It was drama only as Arizona would allow it: A coach says “”no thanks”” to the original offer, causing Wildcat fans to bite their nails to bloody stumps.

    Then he comes back with Band-Aids.

    Finally, a cure for Arizona’s wounds has come to light.

    Miller becomes Arizona’s first coach since Lute Olson who was supposed to coach the Wildcats from the get-go, unlike Kevin O’Neill and Russ Pennell. Miller has taken his team to the Elite Eight – something neither O’Neill nor Pennell were able to do as head coaches.

    And most importantly, he was able to create a positive buzz in Arizona.

    Finally, forward motion.

    But forward motion will be like driving through quicksand in two-wheel drive. The wounds won’t be healed right away and there’s still tons of work to do.

    Miller will come to town as the ringleader of a circus formerly known as the Arizona basketball program. Though he wasn’t UA athletic director Jim Livengood’s first choice, he won’t be able to use the excuse of being a placeholder for the next coach when things go bad. This is his team now.

    And boy, will he learn quickly about things going bad. How could they not?

    Arizona is under NCAA investigation regarding alleged recruiting violations. And with the spring signing period coming up in eight days, Miller has no recruits for his 2009-10 team.

    Then there’s the fact that Arizona’s Big Three – Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill and Nic Wise – probably won’t be back in the fall. That leaves seven players for next season, and three of them saw less than 7 minutes per game last season.

    Oh, and then there’s the program’s huge expectations: continuing the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament streak to 26 consecutive appearances and beating ASU for the first time since Lute Olson took his initial leave of absence in 2007.

    No, this Wildcat program is no longer your dad’s Arizona basketball program.

    Miller has left an Atlantic 10 team that is projected to win its league next season for a Pacific 10 Conference team that could be projected to finish last without its Big Three.

    For the sake of Wildcat Nation, let’s hope Miller has four-wheel drive.

    Lance Madden is a journalism junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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