They're set up for success. Next year will be the Arizona Wildcats' Golden Year, the one they're supposed to return to glory as one of the nation's elite superpowers.
Sean Miller has the facilities and the wild uniforms that can be thrown up against any other program in the nation. That's attracted the motherload of all recruiting classes to follow up three classes that have built the foundation. And of course, add that to Miller's coaching prowess, and 2012-13 is the year.
He's got another trick up his sleeve now. Miller has been holding out on taking his team to a preseason tournament, and Bruce Pascoe reports that the Wildcats wi'll likely take a foreign exhibition trip to the Bahamas, giving a roster of combined veteran leadership, depth and youth a chance to gel for the season that eyes are already -- probably unfairly to this year's team -- cocked upon.The 2013 NCAA tournament has the makings of being magical for Arizona.
First of all, we assume the Wildcats will make the Big Dance considering this year's squad is still clinging to the bubble despite a number of mishaps.
While injuries, setbacks, learning curves and pure luck could leave the Wildcats disappointed, Miller's willingness to hang to that bonding experience of a foreign trip tells you that he's built his program to succeed in Year 4 at the helm.
Per the Arizona Daily Star:
"We were waiting for the right time," said Ryan Reynolds, UA's director of basketball operations. "Our first year definitely wasn't the right time and last year we kind of had a our feet under us a little bit more but we were still trying to make up so much ground."
So 2012-13 it is. It makes sense, too.
Miller's first recruiting class, one that theoretically should have included Derrick Williams and Momo Jones, will be in their senior seasons. While the NBA defection, the transfer and Kyryl Natyazhko's development have been at the Wildcats' expense, Solomon Hill and a healthy Kevin Parrom will be the leaders and teachers for a team still on the learning curve about Miller's ideals on toughness and togetherness.
It's also the perfect year for the classes that followed up his first. Though that includes only Jordin Mayes from the 2011 class, it's during Nick Johnson, Angelo Chol and Josiah Turner's sophomore seasons, a point early enough in their careers where they haven't jumped ship to the NBA should it become an option.
Then, you've got the obvious talent level in the 2012 recruiting class, with McDonald's All-Americans in Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett leading the way.
Barring any surprise transfers, this year's bubble team -- a young one at that -- gains the best recruiting class and a year's of experience that could catapult the Wildcats deep into the NCAA tournament in 2013. Although the losses of Kyle Fogg, Jesse Perry and Brendon Lavender will be larger than people expect, the talent-level will arguably be the highest of any Sean Miller-coached team.
Miller knows it's his Golden Year, the one where he can make a splash should he play all his cards right. The hold-out
of a fun vacation of a team-uniting trip in the Bahamas is a tell, however.
It's a tell that getting the team chemistry perfect, as early as possible, is more important next year than any other season he's coached at Arizona.