Arizona’s Sean Miller is ranked by Sports Illustrated writer and CBS analyst Seth Davis as No. 13 among this year’s coach of the year selections.
Miller is two spots behind Oregon’s Dana Altman as the highest rated Pac-12 coach, according to Davis. Miami’s Jim Larranaga, whose team lost to Arizona 69-50 in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu on Dec. 23, is Davis’ top choice. The Hurricanes are 12-1, and unbeaten in the ACC with an 11-0 record, since that loss to Arizona.
Of Miller’s accomplishment this season — the Wildcats are 20-3 overall and ranked No. 9 — Davis writes: “This is a program vote as well as an endorsement of what Miller has done with this team. Few coaches are as good at loading up players — and then coaching them up — as Miller. The relationship he forged as Xavier’s coach while recruiting Mark Lyons proved invaluable when Lyons transferred to Tucson last spring. Miller’s teams defend hard, and when they can get out on the break and score, they’re as dangerous as any team in America.”
I agree with Davis’ assessment that the Pac-12 coach of the year balloting will be Altman as the winner and Miller the runner-up, if the season ended today.
An argument for Miller winning the Pac-12 coach of the year honor is how he has pieced together three new starters — Lyons, a Xavier transfer, and freshman bigs Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski – with the Wildcats’ top returners (Solomon Hill, Nick Johnson and Kevin Parrom). Freshman forward Grant Jerrett has also played extensively (18.4 minutes per game).
Lyons, Ashley, Tarczewski and Jerrett were not around last year and they have played 44.7 percent of Arizona’s available minutes. They have scored 45.5 percent of Arizona’s points.
Miller has Arizona 20-3 despite Lyons playing out of position as the point guard (instead of his customary shooting guard position) and three freshmen frontcourt players playing extensively. The Wildcats also go only seven deep with UA’s coaches hoping No. 8 player Jordin Mayes becomes more of a reliable backup at the guard position with March Madness approaching.
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner