- Elena Bergeron
Insider knows you're hot for hoops during the summer, so we bring you a closer look at five programs on the rise, five on the way down and five at a crossroads. Thursday, we continue this week's look at five schools that are down from a year ago by checking in with Arizona.
21-14 (NCAA Sweet Sixteen)
Can't blame the Wildcats faithful for finally breathing a sigh of relief. After two years of interim coaches operating with the shadow of the legendary Lute Olson (in many cases literally) hovering over the program, things are finally mellowing out. Of course, out of all that unrest, last year the 'Cats squeaked in on Selection Sunday then plowed through to the Sweet 16, despite the fact that the team had all the stability of a one-legged drunk in a hula hoop contest.
So when new hire Sean Miller arrived in Tucson, Ariz., his first task was steadying the ship. "My first priority was dealing with the current players, letting them know that there would be some sort of consistency, that everything would be alright," Miller said. To that end, he flew directly to senior PG Nic Wise's house in Houston to try to talk Wise out of bolting via transfer or the NBA draft.
"If he left Arizona, I wanted it to be because it was in his best interest, not because it was unstable," Miller said. Wise returned, bringing with him the leadership and scoring (15.7 points per game) that propelled the 'Cats in March. He will be the key to a diapered 2009-10 team. As soothing as Miller has been, his next job will be talking down boosters expecting another deep tourney run this year.
To read how Miller plans to put Arizona back atop the Pac-10, get the gritty on the new recruits and see who should step up to help Wise, you must be an ESPN Insider.
The CBB Summer Buzz series goes West to Arizona, where Sean Miller has finally stabilized a chaotic program. But he's not inheriting much talent, meaning duplicating last year's Sweet Sixteen run will be a daunting challenge.