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Monday, April 06, 2009

Miller over Pastner…did U of A do the right thing?

Miller over Pastner…did U of A do the right thing?

By Vince Marotta, April 6th, 2009 5:17 PM

Jim Livengood, in the eyes of many, has rebounded and redeemed himself. The Arizona A.D. locked up Xavier’s Sean Miller on a 7-year deal (or however long Miller wants to stay, because we all know college coaching contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on).

It’s a good hire. Miller is one of the up-and-comers in the college ranks. He’s guided Xavier to four straight NCAA Tournaments, one Elite 8 appearance, and one Sweet 16. In 2007, he was at the helm of the Musketeers’ team that nearly knocked off top-seeded Ohio State, who went on to the National Championship game against Florida.

After all of the venom spewed his way when he failed to land Rick Pitino, or John Calipari or Tim Floyd, for that matter, is forgotten, in my opinion. Miller can coach, and should have success at Arizona in the future.

But, after the news that came out of Memphis today, you have to at least wonder if Arizona made the right hire.

The University of Memphis, in the wake of Calipari bolting to Lexington to take the Kentucky job, announced that assistant Josh Pastner would get the job. It’s interesting because Pastner was only at Memphis for a season. And it’s even more interesting because Pastner coached under Lute Olson for five seasons and played for Lute for four years. Yet, his name only came up when mentioned by former U of A players who endorsed Pastner.

Sean Miller received a 7-year contract worth $19 million from the U of A. Pastner, will undoubtedly receive a fraction of that, seeing as how he’s only 31 years old, and this will be his first head coaching job anywhere.

Memphis reportedly went after Miller, but settled on Pastner. And one can definitely make the argument that Memphis basketball is in much better shape right now than the Arizona program is. And Pastner has familiarity with recruiting in the Pac-10, a claim that Miller can’t make. Pastner was known as a tireless recruiter while an assistant in Tucson.

Did Livengood and the U of A do the right thing? We’ll find out.

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