New-look Wildcats ready to open Miller Era
Almost everything about the
“It’s really a brand-new fresh canvas,” coach Sean Miller said.
One thing hasn’t changed: expectations.
In the long run, Miller is charged with returning the Wildcats to the national prominence they enjoyed during Hall of Famer Lute Olson’s 24 seasons in the desert, which brought four Final Four trips and a national title in 1997.
This year, the goal is simpler, but perhaps every bit as daunting.
Miller and his youthful squad are under pressure to extend
The long tourney run is a powerful recruiting tool. But Miller has warned that it could also be a burden to an inexperienced group.
” ‘The Streak’ is ‘The Streak’ and you can’t get past that,” freshman point guard Lamont ‘MoMo’ Jones said.
The Wildcats were picked fourth in a preseason poll of
March seemed a long way off when the Wildcats opened preseason drills. They spent much of the fall being introduced to each other.
The players on this year’s team accounted for only 32.9 of
Wise wavered on returning for his senior season. But with no guarantees that he’d be drafted last summer, Wise came back and will play for his fourth coach in as many years.
“It’s going to be a big load for me, Jamelle and Fogg, but feels good to finally have a coach,” said Wise.
Wise averaged 15.7 points per game last season, second to
Wise is the latest in a long line of star
“You want to be the big man,” Wise said. “I’ve just got to live up to the role.”
Wise is generously listed at 5-foot-10, but he’ll be asked to shoulder most of the leadership responsibility, at least early on.
“He certainly has the most at stake, coming back for his senior year, and I certainly wouldn’t trade him with any point guard,” Miller said.
Wise will provide leadership for a flood of new signees, including 6-foot-6 swingman
Miller won’t project a starting lineup, and it’s very likely it will change as the season progresses.
Two years ago, Olson took a personal leave of absence before the season tipped off, turning the team over to interim coach Kevin O’Neill. Back on the job last fall, Olson spoke enthusiastically about the upcoming season at media day, then resigned two days later.
Interim coach Russ Pennell replaced Olson and guided
After flirting with former
Miller will take up residence on the sideline of a refurbished McKale Center court, which will have a different look this season. The school’s trademark block “A” can be found at center court, and the “Lute and Bobbi Olson Court” tribute has moved to the front of the
“We certainly look forward to the challenge of improvement,” Miller said, “and at the end of the year, if things line up right, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we’re a very good team, and a very dangerous team that has improved a lot.”