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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona’s top coaches

 Sean Miller, men’s basketball

Sixteen to 30. That’s the quantitative measure of success in wins between Sean Miller’s first season and this one. He was one shot away from the Final Four with a team that sacrificed individuality and exceeded all expectations. Derrick Williams was the star, but Arizona was hardly a one-man show thanks to his supporting cast that overachieved when it mattered most. Now with a top-10 ranked incoming freshman class, Arizona will aim for the Final Four as a legitimate contender next season.?

Frank Busch, swimming

Frank Busch will undoubtedly go down as one of Arizona’s all-time best coaches. He became the Arizona swimming and diving head coach 22 years ago, and since then, the program has flourished into a consistently successful entity, consistently producing the strongest teams and swimmers in the country. This year alone, the men’s team finished in fourth place and the women’s team finished in fifth place at the 2011 NCAA National Championships. Busch has a distinctive training program unlike any other Pacific 10 Conference school, not to mention his unbeatable relationship with his swimmers. The 11-time Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year and six-time NCAA Coach of the Year will surely be missed.

 ””We’re sad to see a coach and person of Frank Busch’s caliber leave our staff,”” said athletic director Greg Byrne. “”He’s been a tremendous asset to swimming, surely, but moreover to the entire University of Arizona athletics program.?We appreciate everything coach Busch has done for the University of Arizona.””

Niya Butts, women’s basketball

In just three years at the helm of the Arizona women’s basketball program, head coach Niya Butts has taken the team from perennial conference cellar dwellers to legitimate title contenders.

Under Butts, the Wildcats managed to post a 21-12 overall record this year, the program’s best since the 2003-04 season.

The team’s National Invitation Tournament bid also marked the first postseason appearance for the Wildcats since the 2004-05 campaign.

As a former starting guard and two-time national champion at the University of Tennessee under Hall of Fame coach Pat Summitt, Butts is no stranger to success. With her passion and finely-tuned coaching style, look for Arizona women’s basketball to be making some serious noise in the next few years.

James Li, cross-country and assistant track and field

As head coach of the cross-country team and assistant coach for the track teams, James Li has done a lot of winning this season. He was able to train Stephen Sambu, national runner-up in cross-country, and a women’s team that placed 11th at nationals. Currently the men and women’s track teams are both in the top 10, which is the first time since 1989.

Mike Candrea, softball

A coach arguing a call in baseball and softball is a time honored tradition. Generally speaking, it is also a complete exercise in futility. For Arizona softball head coach Mike Candrea, this is not always true. In a game this season against Washington, Candrea disagreed with a Washington runner being called safe, calmly spoke to the first base umpire, asked another official for a second opinion, and got his call reversed. That clout — along with producing yet another team that, on its best days, can compete with anyone in the nation — is why Candrea is a top coach.

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