Arizona Basketball

Despite popular belief Arizona Wildcats coach Miller not best coach without Final 4 appearance



Sean Miller's four trips to the Elite Eight at only 46 is an impressive feat in itself (ESPN screen shot)

Sean Miller’s four trips to the Elite Eight at only 46 is an impressive feat in itself (ESPN screen shot)

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It’s a popular catch phrase of studio hosts on TV and with some in this new era of social media:

Sean Miller is the best coach to not reach a Final Four.”

Miller, only 46, tried for the fourth time to win an Elite Eight game Saturday, three times with Arizona in only his sixth year in Tucson, but came up short again, this time to a hot-shooting Wisconsin team.

The 0-4 record in the Elite Eight is frustrating for Miller, but it does not qualify him as the best coach to not reach a Final Four. Perhaps as an opinion that flies. But as a fact, considering the overall careers of a few other coaches, it’s not the case. ran a blog yesterday titled: “Generation Hex: How Can 3 Regional Finals in 5 Years Be Deemed Failure?”

“Sean Miller has won more than two-thirds of his NCAA playoff games (17-8 mark) … How in the world can Miller already be considered the best coach never to reach a Final Four while Notre Dame’s Mike Brey is given a pass despite participating in 50% more tourneys and compiling a losing playoff record?” Mike Douchant of asks.

“Ditto Gonzaga’s Mark Few, who has appeared in twice as many NCAA tourneys as Miller. … Miller doesn’t even meet the minimum standards to be on such a list and is justified in telling any critics where they can go.”

Miller did just that after the 85-78 loss to the Badgers on Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“I’m not going to apologize for being 34-4, and I’m not going to apologize for not making the Final Four, and neither should these guys,” Miller said referring to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and T.J. McConnell sitting next to him in the postgame press conference.

“There are a couple of them, and I’ll just use these two as an example, that have won 69 games in two years, have won back-to-back conference championships, have been in the top 10 for every day that they’ve dribbled a ball at Arizona, and we lost to Wisconsin in two hard-fought battles in the Elite Eight. And if that’s a problem, I think you know what you can do.”

Miller also went to Twitter to address critics:


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Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:

Noted Hall of Fame college basketball coaches with their age when they first advanced to Final Four. Arizona’s Sean Miller is 46:
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A list of prominent coaches without a Final Four berth on their resume despite more than 10 NCAA Tournament appearances. Note: Arizona’s Sean Miller has eight appearances in 11 years with Xavier and Arizona (Source:

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Douchant, who served as basketball editor for The Sporting News and helped create Lindy’s Basketball Yearbooks, brings some sense to the claim Miller leads a list of top coaches who have not reached the Final Four.

“Have misguided observers addressing such a topic ever heard of all-time great coaches such as John Chaney, Lefty Driesell, Gene Keady and Norm Stewart?” Douchant writes. “None of these four luminaries advanced to the national semifinals in a total of 64 NCAA Tournament appearances.”

Driesell, who once claimed Maryland was the UCLA of the East, made 11 NCAA playoff appearances with Davidson and the Terps from 1966 through 1986. He was 0-4 in the Elite Eight.

“I always wanted to get to the Final Four, but not as much as some people think,” Driesell is quoted as saying by Douchant. “I’m not obsessed with it.”


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[/ezcol_1half_end] publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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