SALT LAKE CITY – The way they spoke about it, Arizona players are taking their usual even-keeled approach to their NCAA Tournament opener today.
Even-keeled at a high level, that is.
“A sense of urgency every day,” Parker Jackson-Cartwright said Wednesday of UA coach Sean Miller’s style.
But there is a little something extra added to Miller’s toolbox: The Wildcats’ 65-55 loss to Wichita State in the first round of last season’s NCAA Tournament, only the second time Miller has ever lost to a worse-seeded team (the first was when No. 1 UA lost to No. 2 Wisconsin in the 2014 Elite Eight).
“Wichita State last year, they made our program better, they really did,” Miller said during his podium interview Wednesday. “It's not just that we lost in the first round. Sometimes that happens, as much as nobody ever wants to have that first-round exit, this isn't a seven-game series tournament. This is you have to be at your best in that first 40 minutes or the next 40 may never come.
“But Wichita State a year ago, they were bigger, stronger, they were better coached. They were more ready. They were tougher. In the first eight minutes of that game it was over. And just because you're from the Pac-12 or in our case maybe that we had gone deep in this tournament in previous years doesn't mean that it's going to happen again. Each year is different. So I think that we had quite a few players that experienced both, a deep run almost to a Final Four and a first-round exit.
“So I don't really have to remind them a lot of it. I will tell you that there's a lot of different things that game taught us. And hopefully the lessons learned from a year ago will help us tomorrow night.”
Now that Cuonzo Martin finally made the kind of move he was expected to last spring -- by taking off from Cal for Missouri -- UA associate head coach Joe Pasternack's name is likely to surface again as it was before Martin was hired in 2014.
First, though, Bennett will be trying to steer the Gaels' defense over VCU in a first round game today in which the winner will face Arizona or North Dakota on Saturday.
Was it time for Lorenzo Romar to go? The Seattle Times' Matt Calkins says it was, even though Romar was a well-liked figure in Seattle (and elsewhere, really).
Another player in the Huskies' 2017 class is Seattle guard Daejon Davis, who was an Arizona recruiting target.
Nevada's Eric Musselman may be among the names Washington will now look at (and he'll be a popular choice for any high-major openings to come).
Romar's departure makes Miller, BTW, the new dean of Pac-12 coaches. Since Miller was hired in 2009, the Pac-10 became the Pac-12 and signed a $3 billon media rights deal, which allowed more resources to be built and more money for coaches to be paid but also put more pressure on everybody...
Lots of national attention given to the Wildcats in USA Today. Nicole Auerbach, who was in Tucson late last month, wrote about Lauri Markkanen's growth into a more complete player and about Amy Miller's widow handle. Dan Wolken, who is here in Salt Lake, says the West appears likely to launch either Sean Miller or Mark Few into his first Final Four.
Our daily advance coverage is attached, while there's a special section in the print edition and a ton of stuff on our sports page.
Been asked a few times if I root for anyone in the NCAA Tournament and the answer has been that I don't during Arizona games because the job requires objectivity and I didn't need to in any others because I ... went to Northwestern.
That changes today, so I'm heading over early to Vivent Smart Home Arena.