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Monday, April 06, 2009

Bleacher Report - Arizona's Coach of the Future: Not Who You Think

Arizona's Coach of the Future: Not Who You Think

by JJ Askvig (Contributor)
April 06, 2009

Well, it's official: Arizona will return to the national-powerhouse status that the people of Tucson have come to expect.

Yes, the Wildcats hired Sean Miller today, but honestly, I don't think he will have that large of an impact on the future.

You may have read my last article, in which I stated that Arizona needed to hire for the future, and though the name that everyone's paying attention to isn't ideal for long-term success, the Cats still struck gold today.

Just not with Miller. It's with Josh Pastner that I'm talking about

Yep, Josh Pastner, the former Arizona assistant, got his big break today. He was promoted by Memphis from assistant to head coach. And that bodes well for the Wildcats because...?

Well, first and foremost, Pastner was always the coach-in-waiting when he was at Arizona, but he needed to prove himself as a head coach. Now he has his chance, and it's a beautiful opportunity he's got with a talented Tigers team.

Yes, Calipari took most of his recruits with him to Kentucky, but the cupboard is not bare in Memphis, especially considering the competition they face in Conference USA.

What many do not realize is that the recruiting pipeline of Arizona is Pastner's work. The guy signs stars like crazy and is well-liked by players.

Memphis has had the national stage the last two years. Sure, they haven't quite reached the mountaintop yet, but people know who they are.

And know this: Pastner can coach. Much of the success at Memphis in the last two years is (arguably) because of Pastner, as he brought that aforementioned recruting prowess East when he arrived in '08.

Besides, anyone who watched the tourney could see that Coach Cal was already letting Pastner do a lot of the coaching, so he's already got a start.

So what does all of this have to do with Arizona?

Well, if Pastner proves himself at Memphis, which I firmly believe he will, the Wildcats will be after him like crazy. And unless Miller makes a deep run into the tourney (read: at least to the Elite Eight) in his first three years, Pastner will practically be in.

The only reason Arizona did not call Pastner this time was they did not want to hand over the reins of a top-tier program to a coach without head coaching experience (obviously, their hiring of an interim coach on short notice does not count).

Anyways, seems to me that if Miller has any success at Arizona and a job on the East Coast opens up, he will be gone.

The future for Arizona looks much brighter today. They just got one step closer to getting their real coach of the future.

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