Arizona is Standing by Its Statements

Posted by Adam Butler on October 17th, 2017

Arizona head coach Sean Miller will stick by his statement. He is, after all, a man of principle as we understand him. He’ll rarely deviate from his defensive schemes, controls his narrative, and would consider himself a teacher. “This is about the kids,” he noted when addressing questions last Thursday afternoon at Pac-12 Media Day in San Francisco. As it pertained to the ongoing investigation into his and other programs, Miller noted that he’d be sticking to his statement. Twelve times in less-than 15 minutes he’d reference that document and its words. There is an investigation, of course, that Miller is supporting while his bosses (athletic director Dave Heeke and school president Robert C. Robbins) support him. That support, by the way, meant “the world” to Miller.

Sean Miller Takes Only Certain Questions (USA Today Images)

Naturally, this kept us away from the important stuff such as:

QUESTION: Do you think you have the best team in the country?

SEAN MILLER: I appreciate the question. I don’t think we are right now. You know, Rawle Alkins getting hurt, I haven’t had an opportunity, and we haven’t had our collection of players together. Part of what I think makes our team this year potentially good, special, we’re not there yet, obviously at the beginning stages.

He’d go on, as I saw in person but as quantified by transcript, for 254 more words about how he just might have the best team in the country. He’d revel in the athleticism of his prized recruit, Deandre Ayton. There were allusions to past Arizona greats such as Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson, and referencing their athletic prowess. Ayton, however, has touched the top of the backboard. Miller had never seen that before. Neither have I. Have you?

It was, perhaps, his only opportunity to talk about the prospects of what many believe to be the best team he’s ever coached. Consequently, this was Miller’s longest response to any of the questions posed at Media Day. And consider, Miller has a roster that includes a senior point guard, a National Player of the Year candidate, returns three double-figure scorers, and introduces what could be (as he noted) the best class he’s brought to Tucson.

Unfortunately or realistically, however, we’re not staring at an unfamiliar duality: the talented team and its trailing controversy. The reigning National Champion 3,000 miles east just escaped punishment in the wake of an elongated investigation into its academic coursework. In summary, the NCAA found that the years of wrongdoing was outside its jurisdiction and could therefore take no action. Conversely, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has far broader boundaries. For a college athletic program, it’s unprecedented.

Alas, the Wildcats were picked by the media to finish first in the Pac-12. It was not unanimous, however, as one media member felt the distractions around the Wildcats’ program might plummet them to fourth. After all, we’re dealing with unprecedented pressures, a federal investigation and jail time – not banner removal – as stakes. And while such lends itself to the unknown, what we do know is that this group of Wildcats could very well be the best Sean Miller has ever had. A different crumble of precedence as it pertains to this discussion.

And on Friday, the Wildcats will make their first basketball playing appearance of the year, their annual Red-Blue game. The critical pieces – less the recently injured Alkins – will be put on display to show off their talents and excite the fan base; to make a statement as one of the top teams in the country. The kind of statement Sean Miller would like to stick to.

Adam Butler (26 Posts)


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