2015-16 Countdown

Arizona Wildcats hoops countdown slideshow: We’re only four days and counting to tipoff


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The above Twitter sequence involving longtime Tucson sports journalist Anthony Gimino and fan Chris Voelker prompted me to research the composition of Lute Olson and Sean Miller starting lineups.

Miller started last night four seniors in the 90-54 exhibition victory over Chico State at McKale Center. If Miller sticks to seniors Kaleb Tarczewski, Ryan Anderson, Mark Tollefsen and Gabe York in the starting lineup this season, it will be the most since Olson started mostly four seniors in the 1995-96 season: Ben Davis, Corey Williams or Joseph Blair, Joe McLean and Reggie Geary.

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Williams shared the starting role at one frontcourt position with Blair and McLean started earlier that season before sophomore Michael Dickerson was inserted in the lineup during the conference season.

The only other time four seniors started during the Olson era was the hall of fame coach’s second year in Tucson, 1984-85. Eddie Smith, Pete Williams and Brunk Brunkhorst were mainstays in the lineup while fellow senior Morgan Taylor shared starting duties with Arizona’s first McDonald’s All-American, shooting guard Craig McMillan, a freshman that season.

Never has Olson or Miller started five seniors predominantly in a season.

Olson started three seniors four times in his 24 years: 2002-03 with Luke Walton, Rick Anderson and Jason Gardner; 1997-98 with Simon, Dickerson and Bennett Davison; 1988-89 with Sean Elliott, Anthony Cook and Ken Lofton and 1987-88 with Steve Kerr, Tom Tolbert and McMillan.

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Three senior starters have occurred once in the Miller years: 2012-13 with Mark Lyons, Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom. Brandon Ashley, a freshman that year, shared the starting assignment at power forward with Parrom.

In the Olson years, on six occasions no seniors started in 2003-04, 2001-02, 1999-2000, 1996-97, 1986-87 and his first season of 1983-84. The Wildcats, of course, won the national title in 1996-97 with juniors Simon, Dickerson and Davison, sophomore A.J. Bramlett and freshman Mike Bibby.

In Miller’s six previous seasons, no senior starters for the most part has happened twice: 2013-14 and 2010-11. In both of those seasons, the Wildcats reached the Elite Eight.

More starting lineup data during the Olson and Miller eras (Note: Numbers include the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons when Olson was on leave of absence but interim staffs used his recruits).:

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LUTE OLSON STARTERS COMPOSITION

Grade No. Pct.
Seniors 41 30.4
Juniors 42 31.1
Sophomores 33 24.4
Freshmen 19 14.1

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SEAN MILLER STARTERS COMPOSITION

Grade No. Pct.
Seniors 7 21.9
Juniors 8 25.0
Sophomores 8 25.0
Freshmen 9 28.1

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Interesting to note that Miller in six years has used more freshmen starters than any other class while freshmen starters were far less utilized during the Olson years. That’s the generation of one-and-dones we live in.

Miller’s composition of starters will swing to mostly seniors after this season, but then again, Anderson and Tollefsen are one-year-eligible transfers without previous experience in the program.

I want to thank the Arizona media relations department for providing data through the years that I researched as well as Voelker’s tweet to Gimino for prompting me to do the research.

Please continue in the slideshow to see all of the starting lineups during the Olson and Miller years and our daily countdown toward the season.




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