SAN JOSE, Calif. – After the Arizona Wildcats ended their season short of the Final Four again, Allonzo Trier was asked what he thought about the questioning Sean Miller might receive ahead.
He seemed puzzled, even as somebody appeared to be updating Sean Miller’s postseason record on Wikipedia at about the same time.
“Um. Questioning a guy who had a 32-5 basketball team?” Trier said. “They probably don’t know much if they’re questioning him from that standpoint. Coach did what he thought was best for us to put us in the best position to win the game, and we’re going to go out there and try to execute as well as we can as a basketball team. I totally have faith in my coach that he’s knows what he’s doing, not somebody else who doesn’t.”
The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy also offered some perspective about Miller’s track record.
FWIW, my Twitter notifications in the immediate few hours after the game included a "Fire Miller," "his teams are predictable," "team's intelligence level unacceptable," "what's up with his poor timeout management" and "Miller will never reach a Final Four."
Miller actually put a lot of the blame on himself during his podium interviews after Thursday’s game. Miller spoke of the Wildcats’ inability to defend well, especially down the stretch, and their lack of confidence against the zone, and talked about his role in it all.
“Equally disappointed in myself,” Miller said. “You know, our team never really ever established great confidence against the zone. And I think in some ways that was the reason, defensively, that we weren’t as good as we usually are, because the game never really felt good, and that’s on me.
“Your job when you get to this area, when you get to this level of college basketball, your best players have to be confident. We have to get them shots. I don’t care what defense they’re playing – 1-3-1, 2-3, man-to-man – I don’t feel we did that tonight. And that’s the worst feeling you can have as a coach.”
Sounded like Miller had a pretty uplifting postgame locker room talk, with virtually all of the players repeating his reminder that they did, after all, win the Pac-12 Tournament and (tie for) the Pac-12 regular season title, while winning 32 games.
“We had a great year,” Rawle Alkins said. “We had an historical year.”
Lauri Markkanen sat looking downbeat but tried to keep that in mind, too.
“We went through a lot this year, so of course we have to think about all the good things we did,” Markkanen said. “It’s just sad the season ended so we can’t go to Phoenix.”
Allonzo Trier discussed that point at more length.
“We had a great year, a tremendous year,” Trier said. “A year that will have a lot of memorabilia and history that will be in McKale, on the walls and in the locker rom. It’s just tough because we all had our sights on the Final Four.
“That was what we talked about and we believed it. We knew it was something we could do and then our journey kind of got cut short. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We weren’t going to walk there. Nobody was going to let us go to a Final Four just because it’s in Phoenix. It doesn’t work like that.”
Markkanen and UA's other players who are considered potential early departures this spring all declined to comment on their plans or decision processes ahead. UA players are normally off-limits for the most part in the offseason so face immediate questioning after their last game.
Our full coverage is attached to this post as are the box score and final stats.
Thanks again for reading this season. The news isn't going to slow down for a while this spring, so please stick around ...