Jordin Mayes had more downs than ups on offense this season, but developed a taste for defending that will come in handy Thursday.


In the end, Sean Miller's search for an Arizona Wildcats assistant coach may have actually been more of a sales pitch.

Miller's long journey to find a replacement for brother Archie Miller ended Thursday when Joe Pasternack left his head coaching position at University of New Orleans to join the Wildcats.

Leaving New Orleans was not a surprise, since the Privateers are dropping from Division I to Division II next season because of budgetary issues in the wake of Hurricane Katrina - and Pasternack faced a resulting pay cut from his $156,000 salary. But leaving his job for Arizona might have been, even though Pasternack likely will earn at least $200,000 on the UA staff.

Pasternack, 34, is a well-regarded former Cal assistant who could have left for other top coaching jobs this spring. His wife, Lindsay, is an Arizona graduate and the sister of Cal play-by-play announcer Roxy Bernstein.

"There have been other situations that have come along my way and even head coaching situations," Pasternack said. "But me and my family sorted through some different options and ultimately chose Arizona. The tradition of Arizona is one of the elite programs in America.

"Mostly it was about Sean. Coach Miller is one of the top coaches in America, the total package. And it was important that I work for somebody like that."

Miller and Pasternack had no history of working together, though they have many common connections. Among them is Rice coach Ben Braun, who had Pasternack on his Cal staff for eight years and spoke highly about his work ethic, scouting, recruiting and defensive acumen on Thursday.

"His work ethic is second to none," Braun said. "He's going to outwork you, and he's very thorough, very detailed. That not only manifests itself in game preparation but also in recruiting because he was so tireless. He just wears you down.

"He was very instrumental in our recruiting classes. A lot of kids we had - Ryan Anderson and that class that ended up winning the Pac-10 (in 2010) he had a lot to do with recruiting all of them."

Miller and Pasternack spent two days in Tucson earlier this week while finalizing the decision, which fills the void left when Archie Miller became Dayton's head coach in early April.

"To be able to get someone on our staff with head coaching experience and who has recruited extensively in the West is a tremendous benefit to us," Miller said in a UA statement.

In addition, Miller said Pasternack did an "excellent job under very difficult circumstances" at New Orleans. In a span of two years, plans for the Privateer program ranged from a complete shutdown, to Division III, and finally, after a final effort last month to keep the program at Division I, a move to Division II was finalized for next season.

The upheaval resulted in Pasternack losing nearly all of his key players last summer, including Charles Carmouche to Memphis and Carl Blair to Oklahoma. Still the Privateers managed to go 16-6 against a mostly non-Division I schedule, and Pasternack left UNO with a four-year career record of 54-60.

"We learned how to face adversity each year," Pasternack said. "Each year, it's been something different. My wife and I are very fortunate to come to Tucson and work for Sean Miller, helping Arizona win a national championship."