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Arizona basketball: Sean Miller deserves to win NCAA Coach of the Year

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It shouldn’t even be close.

NCAA Basketball: Washington State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Ya da ya da I’m a homer. Ya da ya da I’m an alum. So be it.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way and thrown to the side, let’s talk business.

Yesterday, Sean Miller was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year.

Now, Miller should be the NCAA Coach of the Year.

On Friday, March 3, the Naismith committee announced their 10 semifinalists, and Miller was rightfully included. On March 16, another six will be knocked off the list with the winner being announced sometime after that.

Semifinalists for Naismith Coach of the Year

Adversity. Adversity. Adversity.

No other coach on that list has had to deal with the type of adversity Sean Miller has undergone in the past ten months.

Let’s recap shall we?

  • He lost arguably his best shooter and five-star prospect Terrance Ferguson to an Australian professional team over the summer.
  • Grad-transfer Talbott Denny tore his ACL at the rec before the season began.
  • Ray Smith tore his ACL for the third time in the team’s first preseason game, ending his career.
  • Allonzo Trier didn’t suit up for a game until two weeks into the year 2017.
  • Arizona lost its Athletic Director midway through the season.
  • Miller’s only true point guard missed over a month with an ankle sprain.

Cape Horn even thinks that those were rocky waters to navigate.

But 31 games into the season, Miller and company have rattled off 27 wins.

Twenty. Seven. Wins.

And the team has been at “full” strength for maybe 13 of them? Their four losses have all come to ranked teams and all teams currently projected to be a four-seed or better. On top of that, half of the Wildcats’ losses came without leading scorer Allonzo Trier.

Whatever happens in the Pac-12 Tournament and in the NCAA Tournament, Sean Miller’s ability to rally the troops was phenomenal.

He had to continuously deflect questions about Trier, make sure that Smith’s injury didn’t depress the team, figure out how to get three freshmen adjusted into the starting line up without it affecting older players, locking in one of the top 2017 recruiting classes in the nation, and still scouting future opponents.

Talk about a monumental task, yet he and his staff somehow came out of it unscathed.

At one point in the season, the team had only seven scholarship players available –- a number so minuscule for a Power-5 team it is mind-blowing. But somehow, someway, Sean Miller has this team standing 27-4 and Co-Pac-12 Conference Champions.

Now, I have nothing against Bill Self and another Big-12 Championship, or Jay Wright leading Villanova to a likely one-seed and Big East title, or Mark Few losing just once, or Chris Collins getting Northwestern to their first NCAA Tournament. Those are all great accomplishments.

But seriously, none of those things compare to what Sean Miller has done in Tucson.

He lost two potential starters before the season even began, had another starter not suit up until January, and still said ‘bring it, we’re not going to let this stop us.’

And he didn’t.

So, NCAA, don’t mess this up. Hand the award to Sean Miller. He’s deserved it and there’s no reason he shouldn’t get it.


You can follow Alec on Twitter: @UofAlec