In T.J. McConnell’s final moments with the Arizona Wildcats, he hugged Sean Miller and apologized for not leading him to his first Final Four.
“That guy right there is like my dad, so I just felt down that I couldn't get him there,” McConnell said at the time, with tears in his eyes.
The Wildcats were been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by the Wisconsin Badgers in the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season — twice falling one win shy of the Final Four.
Still, McConnell’s tenure at Arizona was anything but a failure. The Wildcats went 67-9 in two seasons with him at point guard, and won two Pac-12 titles.
Yet, those things are secondary for McConnell.
“The only thing I think about is just not being able to get to a Final Four for Coach, for the fans, for the school, and for my teammates,” McConnell recently told 1580 The Fanatic. “That’s the only thing that still haunts me to this day.”
Now entering his 14th year as a head coach and ninth season at Arizona, Miller is still searching for that first Final Four appearance.
And he may not ever have a team that’s better than those led by McConnell. After all, the 2013-14 and 2014-15 squads were the best two teams UA has had in the KenPom era (2002-present).
Which is why, all the accolades and all, McConnell still can’t shake those losses to Wisconsin.
“You kinda look back to everything we’ve accomplished in the two years — we won back-to-back regular season championships and then we won one my senior year, so we were a pretty good team in those two years,” he said. “The thing that haunts not just me, but everyone, is the two Final Fours.”
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire