This one defining play made Arizona basketball's Elite Eight run. There's always one of them; a ball that had it bounced one way would have sent one team home dejected and the other team into tears of glee. Generally, game and season-defining plays are results of bold, ballsy moves.
I'm seriously not trying to beat a dead horse (or bull), but for the Wildcats in 2011, that moment came on defense, a five second (maybe) inbound play against the Texas Longhorns in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Remember that? It's what gave the Wildcats two more rounds of basketball and sent the Longhorns, as usual, home dissatisfied with the outcome after higher expectations fizzled overhead, out of reach.
Credit Sean Miller. OK, so the referee kind of, sort of (yeah, he did), jumped the gun and called a 5-second count on the inbounder about a second too soon. But like I said after the craziness ensued and after UA and Derrick Williams got the ball back with 14 seconds and scored an And 1 to put the Wildcats ahead with nine seconds remaining, bad luck is aided by bad decisions.
That sequence was also a credit to Arizona's defense and Miller's play-calling. It was bold and it was beautiful.
Watch above as Miller's players switch every screen. That's all he told them in the huddle before the time-warp of an official call, I wrote for the Daily Wildcat in March. But Miller's decision-making went further than that. It was his trust in his players that make him a great coach.
That's why Jordin Mayes, a back-up freshman point guard scored 14 big points as starter Momo Jones struggled throughout. Senior Jamelle Horne, always one to raise an eyebrow, was benched (and to those in Tulsa, yelled at quite a bit) by Miller for dummy-headed mistakes through the first 30 minutes.
But guess who was in on the biggest play of the postseason? Both Jones and Horne, the latter acting as a long-armed, obtrusive ball-denier. Miller didn't make the mistake to keep in a freshman and out a leader in Jones. And he wasn't going to make the mistake of thinking that Horne's faults (yeah, the two fouls from the Kevin O'Neill year that made fans put their palm in their face or throw their chips and dip at the TV) would be the deciding factor despite his history.
It's all about trust. And because of it, the Wildcats went to the Elite Eight instead of getting bounced in the second round. Bold moves? Risky? For sure.
Look where it got them, though.