Monday, April 6, 2009

Sean Miller to Arizona - its official. But why was it so hard for Arizona to find a coach?

(UPDATE: Memphis has promoted former assistant Josh Pastner to head coach. If the name sounds familiar, it should. He was the guy that Arizona wanted to be the interim coach this season.)

Last night, the talk of the town was that another high-profile coach had turned down the Arizona coaching gig. Sean Miller of Xavier had told Jim Livengood that he did not what to take the job, but around noon today, he informed Xavier that he would, in fact, be leaving Xavier.

This raises a bigger question. Why was it so hard for Arizona (and still is hard for Memphis - they were just spurned by Baylor's Scott Drew) to find a new coach?

Let's face it. The Wildcats have been a top 10 program in the country the last 25 or so years. It is a basketball school with great fans and an administration dedicated to winning.

But the issue lies in who will be replaced. Lute Olson is a living legend. While I have knocked his coaching ability at times (I wrote something along the lines of "rolling the ball out and letting five Mickey D's play does not a Bobby Knight make"), there is no mistaking that the guy put Arizona on the map as a basketball institution. It is so tough to replace a legend (see Mike Davis at Indiana or Matt Doherty/Bill Gutheridge at UNC) at a school with a basketball tradition.

It makes it even more difficult when that team is going to have to be built from scratch. Memphis loses Tyreke Evans, Shawn Taggart, Robert Dozier, and basically their entire recruiting class. Arizona will more than likely lose all or part of their trio Chase Budinger, Nic Wise, and Jordan Hill. You combine what is left at these two schools, and I doubt that team makes the tournament.

With the expectations and the pressures that will come at both of these schools, would you want to be the guy expected to rebuild the program from the ground up?

I don't think I would.

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