Posted on: November 17, 2011 11:27 am
CBSSports.com's Jeff Goodman caught up with Arizona coach Sean Miller to get his thoughts on the upcoming college basketball season and much more.
Posted on: November 9, 2011 12:23 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett.
Three of the elite big men in the entire country, all headed to the same place.
A decade or so ago, this would hardly be newsworthy. Lute Olson was doing this sort of thing all the time, plucking the best of the best - especially on the west coast.
But Arizona hasn't been, Arizona, for a while now.
That's set to change with Ashley, Tarczewski and Jerrett - in addition to consensus Top 50 guard Gabe York - all signing with Sean Miller's Arizona Wildcats.
Ashley checks in at No. 3 overall in our rankings, Tarczewski is at No. 5 while Jerrett (No. 23) is also a legitimate McDonald's All-American candidate.
This is a class that stands at numero uno right now - without any question or hesitation - and it's also one that no one expected out of Miller when took the job a couple years ago.
Miller was an east coast guy who had virtually no recruiting ties west of the Mississippi, but he's been able to make inroads in California - and that's a state that has been primed to invade lately with the inability of Ben Howland to secure elite local talent and the hesitation of Kevin O'Neill to go after (or secure) potential one-and-done guys.
Sure, Miller was fortunate that USC let Derrick Williams out of his letter of intent and ended up in Tucson. He was lucky that he was able to persuade former Xavier signee Kevin Parrom to come with him to Arizona.
But this was a program with as much instability as any in the nation a few years ago.
It appeared to be in the same realm as Indiana, a major rebuilding process that could take years for it to be nationally relevant again.
Now Miller, just two years removed, is beating Kentucky and Phil Knight, I mean Oregon, for studs like Ashley. He got John Calipari twice this year and also nabbed Tarczewski over Kansas and North Carolina.
However, the most shocking aspect of his current class is that the 7-foot Tarczewski committed with Ashley and Jerrett already in the fold. This could be the most talented trio of big men in the country in any one spot a year from now - and we haven't even touched on current Arizona freshmen Angelo Chol or Sidiki Johnson - both big men who cracked the Top 100 in the previous recruiting class.
With this group that will ink in the early signing period, Miller has put Arizona back where Olson had it in his heyday.
Just imagine a starting unit of sophomore guards Josiah Turner and Nick Johnson in the backcourt with a healthy Parrom or Solomon Hill (both will be seniors) on the wing and some combination of Ashley, Tarczewski and Jerrett up front. Then you'll have guys like Johnson, Chol and York coming off the bench.
That's a team that can compete for a league - and likely even a national - championship.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: November 8, 2011 9:19 am
Edited on: November 8, 2011 9:57 am
By Jeff Goodman
Nick Johnson knows it'll take time.
Not just for him, but for the entire Arizona team.
Arizona's talented freshman may have said the words "one day and one game at a time" four or five different occasions last night following the Wildcats season-opening 73-64 victory against Valparaiso.
This will obviously be a completely different team without Derrick Williams.
"Anyone can be the leading scorer or rebounder," Johnson said.
"We understand we'll go through growing pains," he added. "We've already gone through some with the exhibition loss, but luckily it didn't count on our record. However, it definitely counted in our minds."
Johnson finished with 14 points and six assists in his debut - and Arizona was led by senior Kyle Fogg, who went for 16 points.
Jesse Perry went for a double-double (14 points, 10 boards), Solomon Hill had eight points and freshman point guard Josiah Turner struggled and finished with seven points.
"He was a highly ranked guy coming in," Johnson said of Turner. "Point guard it the most difficult position on the floor. He has to know everyone's spots and also be a leader. He has a big weight on his shoulders, but it'll click for him soon."
Turner isn't the only player with an adjustment. Virtually the entire team is in a different role - and after a somewhat lackluster first half against Valpo, Arizona's defense clamped down the first 10 or 15 minutes of the second half.
"We locked down," Johnson said. "Until the last four minutes or so - when we gave up a few 3's."
Johnson maintained the same philosophy that his coach has been preaching in the preseason. This team may not look the same in the middle of Pac-12 play as it does right now.
Arizona is hopeful that Kevin Parrom will be back on the court sometime next month - and also that Turner will make major strides. However, in the meantime, it's Jordin Mayes that gives this Wildcats team the best opportunity to win.
At least for right now.
And down the road? Who knows.
"Last year they clicked at the right time," Johnson said. "We're hoping maybe we can do something like that."
Posted on: October 31, 2011 9:25 am
Edited on: October 31, 2011 9:43 am
By Jeff Goodman
The place not to be this weekend? McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona.
That's where Arizona coach Sean Miller crushed his players after a loss to Division 2 Seattle Pacific on Thursday night.
However, a few days after the somewhat embarrassing setback, Miller gained some perspective.
"No one wanted to lose, but in a funny way I think it'll help us," Miller said on Sunday night. "We've got to earn it all over."
"Guys are in different roles," he added.
Without Derrick Williams, this is a completely different team - and while the Wildcats did welcome in a stellar freshman class, it'll likely take time for most of them to adjust. Despite their preseason ranking, this is not a Top 25 team right now. Not this early - and not without Kevin Parrom.
The only one who stood out in his debut was athletic guard Nick Johnson.
"He was the bright spot," Miller said of Johnson.
Fellow freshman guard Josiah Turner - the most highly touted of the frosh - struggled. Miller said that could be the case early because Turner had a rough senior season in high school in which he switched schools.
"He didn't come off a good situation, but did the best he could," Miller said. "Don't be surprised if Josiah struggles early in the season and plays his best basketball later in the year."
Not only is Arizona without Williams, but the Wildcats are also without Parrom - who is recovering from being shot in the leg.
"I'd be surprised if Kevin's back in November," Miller said. "It's probably realistic that he returns in December. He's getting more and more movement and has been doing as well as anyone could expect after the loss of his mother."
Miller said that fans will need to be patient with other two freshmen - big men Sikidi Johnson and Angelo Chol. Veteran big man Alex Jacobson, who would likely play minutes right now due to the inexperience of Johnson and Chol, is also out with an injury.
Posted on: October 12, 2011 4:18 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Kevin Parrom's status for this season remains up in the air.
Arizona's junior wing, expected to be one of the Wildcats top players this season following the departure of Derrick Williams to the NBA, was shot while back home in New York last month.
Miller said there is no timetable for his return.
"We are cautiously optimistic based on his progress," Miller told CBSSports.com on Wednesday. "But we don't know when he'll be back - if at all this season."
Miller said that Parrom returned to Tucson with no feeling below his right knee.
"He's going to run under water this weekend," Miller said.
Miller reiterated that the plan is to continue to monitor Parrom's progress before making a decision.
He also said that he won't place Parrom and his long-term future in jeopardy.
"We've already talked about the possibility of redshirting," Miller said. "But it depends on the progress he continues to make."
"Again, we're optimistic he'll be able to play this season," he added. "But we honestly don't know right now. He could be back for the first game, for league play or not at all."
Posted on: August 29, 2011 5:04 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 7:37 am
By Jeff Goodman
My fellow Arizona alums didn't want me anywhere near campus last year. I was the skeptic, the one who had the Wildcats ranked lower than any other AP voter, the one who just never believed in the cast surrounding Derrick Williams.
Now it's time to attempt to get back on the good side of my fellow alums.
Arizona will contend for the national title in 2012.
With the recent news that elite forward Brandon Ashley decided to commit to Arizona over Oregon and Kentucky on Monday, Miller has done the unthinkable.
He's taken Arizona from one of the most unstable programs in the nation just a few years ago back to where it's again a legitimate national power.
Check out this potential core group in 2012:
Point Guard - Josiah Turner, Jordin Mayes
Shooting Guard - Nick Johnson, Gabe York
Small Forward - Kevin Parrom, Solomon Hill
Power Forward - Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett
Center - Angelo Chol, Sidiki Johnson
And if Arizona can somehow beat out Kansas for 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski, the Wildcats could be the favorites to win it all in 2012.
Even without Tarczewski, this will be a team capable of cutting down the nets. However, with him, they could be like the Wildcats of the old days, the ones that were loaded with future NBA'ers.
What Miller - who had absolutely no recruiting ties to the west coast - has done in his two years in Tucson has truly been remarkable. Not only is he a proven coach from his days at Xavier, but he showed he can get the most of his talent with the Elite Eight run a year ago.
He's also showcasing he can be an elite recruiter.
Miller's buddy, John Calipari, dug in on Ashley and came up short. Oregon has Nike backing and lost out to Arizona.
I was a skeptic a year ago.
That's no longer the case.
Posted on: July 14, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 4:48 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Arizona point guard Jordin Mayes had surgery on his foot, but Wildcats coach Sean Miller expects him to be at full-strength for the start of practice.
The 6-foot-2 Mayes, who averaged 4.9 points as a freshman last season, first experienced pain in his foot in the NCAA tournament.
An X-Ray disclosed he had a stress fracture in his foot and he was shut down after the season with his foot in a protective boot.
Then, according to Miller, he experienced pain in the summer league game and had surgery a couple weeks ago.
"The good news is he did it in the summer," Miller said. "He’s 2 1/2-weeks into it and should be fine for when we really need him, but we’re being cautious and taking it slow."
Mayes, with the departure of Lamont Jones to Iona, will likely back-up talented freshman Josiah Turner at the point guard spot this season.
Posted on: May 7, 2011 6:44 pm
Edited on: May 7, 2011 8:40 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
As fan bases in Tucson, College Park, and several cities in-between wait nervously to hear any news of Sean Miller's rumored meeting with Maryland about the open coaching job there, the Arizona Daily Star has finally mentioned the infamous "L" word.
As in, Tucson's a nice place, and the Wildcats have a pretty luminous basketball history. Could it be that Miller is just using the Maryland opening to wring some money out of his employers in tough economic times?
That sounds selfish, but read what the Daily Star's Bruce Pascoe has to say about it before you judge:
Looking out for his assistants is a noble goal. It's also (hey, we have to be realistic here), a perfect excuse to jet if his demands aren't met. This way, it's not a selfish decision if he leaves, he did it for his homeboys.
Goulston was apparently sought out by the newspaper because he coaches incoming big man Angelo Chol, and knows Miller in that capacity. "I talked to him last night but I think there's all kind of reasons to stay at the end of the day," Goulston told Pascoe. "Sometimes these coaches use these situations for leverage."
If he gets what he wants from Maryland, he slides into one of the better jobs in the ACC, where he will be instantly loved for his fiery intensity, which will bring back (slightly less sweaty) visions of Gary Williams, who retired this past week after 22 years at the school.
Sean Miller is on top of the world right now. That's a mighty big plank, resting on a rock-solid fulcrum.
Photo: US Presswire