Blog Entry

It's a good night to be an Arizona Wildcat

Posted on: February 17, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2011 2:37 pm

Posted by MATT JONES

Thursday was a good day to be an Arizona Wildcat fan. After a few years of slow decline in which the Wildcats slipped behind not only fellow Pac 10 power UCLA, but also plebeian programs like Washington, Arizona announced to the basketball world on Thursday that it was back. With two important victories, Sean Miller's program made clear that Arizona basketball is ready to once again own basketball on the West Coast.

First came the commitment of 2011 Top 50 prospect Angelo Chol. The forward prospect is a nice player that any program would love to add, but what made the decision more important than usual is the way in which Sean Miller was able to bring Choi into the fold. Every year, a couple of players wait until late in the game to make their decision and then when power programs see openings in their roster, these late deciders become the basketball equivalent of the pair of 6s hanging out at the bar at closing time. Such was the case with Choi, who initially was recruited by Arizona and second-tier BCS schools like Alabama. Then as powerhouses like Kansas and North Carolina realized they would have an open slot, Choi became a priority, making his commitment a much tougher prize to win.

But that didn't faze Sean Miller. Determined to take Arizona back to its rightful place as the king of West Coast recruiting, Miller kept after Choi and was able to land the commitment of the hottest prospect left in the 2011 class. Choi will certainly help Arizona on the court immediately, but his greatest legacy may actually take place off the hardwood. For Choi represents a recruiting battle won against programs that rarely lose such competitions. When North Carolina, Kansas, Duke or Kentucky want a player, they are usually nabbed and only rarely will they fall to a school outside of the chosen group. Arizona used to be in the West Coast representative in that recruiting royalty class, but had fallen out in recent years, replaced on the West Coast by UCLA. Now with Choi's commitment, Sean Miller has served notice that Arizona is back in the fight, with no player outside of its reach.

The same type of success is now also present on the court as tonight Arizona continued its hot streak with its 7th straight victory. The Wildcats took out Washington State 79-70 in Tucson and set up a three game stretch upcoming that will determine the Pac 10 championship. Led by Derrick Williams's 26 points, Arizona held off a late Cougar rally to get its 14th straight home win and remain one game ahead in the top-heavy Pac 10.

The win allows Arizona to focus on its three game run that is likely the most important of the Sean Miller era. The Wildcats host Washington on Saturday before hitting the road to play USC and UCLA. The Huskies and Bruins are both within striking distance in the conference race and a sweep over the twosome would likely mean a regular season conference title. But maybe even more importantly, those two wins could re-establish Arizona's dominance on the court going forward in both the Pac 10 and over the West Coast more generally. If Arizona can win a Pac 10 title only one year after missing the NCAA Tournament, then conference rivals should be very nervous about what is to happen when all of his recruits end up in Tuscon in the coming seasons.

So in one day, Sean Miller defeats two of the four best recruiting powers in America for a Top 50 recruit and sets up a scenario in which Arizona could over the next 10 days win the Pac 10 title, and reclaim superiority of the left side of the college basketball nation. For Arizona fans, I would guess it is safe to say, Thursday was a good day.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Arizona

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: February 18, 2011 7:10 pm

It's a good night to be an Arizona Wildcat

You evidently can't read... I never said anything about UW being a dominant program... 'Cause I'm not as arrogant as you.  That was the whole point, actually!  If you can't even beat us (UW) how can you be the most dominant team on the West coast...  (Best case scenario, you split the series with us this year...) I think BYU, SDSU, and Gonzaga are laughing too.  In the past 5 years you guys are 6-5, with two Sweet 16 or better appearances, while we're 7-4 with three Sweet 16 appearances...  Not bad for some Plebes...  And as for Romar being overrated-- how do you figure, he consistently takes lesser recruits and gets them as far if not further in the Tourney than Arizona, and that make him overrated?  Okay.  I actually wasn't dissing on you guys, either, and think it's great that you hauled in a big catch-- just saying it doesn't mean anything yet.  And doesn't warrant the cockiness in the article.  I guess you disagree, and think it warrants a little strutting around.  That's fine, but looks  a little silly to the rest of us.  That's all.

Since: Feb 18, 2011
Posted on: February 18, 2011 4:56 pm

"true fan"

You would think that someone so excited about landing a top prospect would at least take the time to make sure they spelled his name right....

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: February 18, 2011 4:52 pm

It's a good night to be an Arizona Wildcat

Is it too much to ask that UW actually do something in the postseason before assuming the title of anything related to dominant west coast program? You have had a nice couple of teams under Romar, and the program is better than it ever has been, but AZ only suffered through down years in the two seasons Olson wasn't coaching because of health and Miller's first year. This year they are first in the PAC 10. The program can't count its PAC 10 titles on two hands. The only threat to Miller and Arizona in the future is UCLA. BTW, Romar can recruit when there's adversity, and he can develop some players to a certain point, but he'll never win the big one because he's really overrated as a coach. And once UW stops getting so many calls and non-calls the teams are going to fade fast. Had your chance. Blew it. Stick to football.

Since: Jan 24, 2011
Posted on: February 18, 2011 3:32 pm

It's a good night to be an Arizona Wildcat

Since: Mar 11, 2009
Posted on: February 18, 2011 1:34 pm

Its a good night to be an Arizona Wildcat

Since: Mar 2, 2008
Posted on: February 18, 2011 11:40 am

Its a good night to be an Arizona Wildcat

Bear Down Arizona.  Were not back yet, but we are on OUR WAY.

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: February 18, 2011 10:29 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Mar 13, 2009
Posted on: February 18, 2011 9:23 am

Its a good night to be an Arizona Wildcat

Being an Arizona Wildcat fan I'm as excited as the next fan about our CATS returning to be "one" of the Best in the West but the work and the season is not over. Finish first or second in the PAC10 and make it to the Sweet 16 this year and I'll beat that drum as loud as anyone. BEAR DOWN Arizona

Since: Dec 2, 2007
Posted on: February 18, 2011 6:28 am

Its a good night to be an Arizona Wildcat

Is it too much to ask that you wait until you beat the "Plebians" you haven't beaten yet this year (UW) before you sound the horn of "we're the dominant West Coast team" again?  I'm glad you're feeling good about yourselves, but it's AFTER you win the Pac 10 that you should start bragging, not while you dream about it.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: February 18, 2011 2:23 am

Its a good night to be an Arizona Wildcat

You're right, SDSU, after its first good season and with its big wins against New Mexico and UNLV, is ready to take the title of best west coast program.

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